Fleet managers face plenty of obstacles every day just managing the day-to-day tasks involved in the complex world of commercial transport. In addition to the logistics of the job, they also must find ways to meet fleet management challenges that can impact the safety and efficiency of their operation.
These fleet management challenges come in many forms, including driver training that reduces poor behind-the-wheel habits such as drowsy driving, managing fuel costs, route optimization, reducing the risk of accidents, vehicle maintenance and regulatory compliance.
It’s a complicated list. That’s why fleet managers increasingly turn to innovative technology to help them solve problems, reduce risk and make fleets run much more efficiently.
Five Areas Of Fleet Manager Challenges
Any fleet manager can create a long list of issues they face every day. However, many of them fall into the following five categories. Overcoming these challenges requires practicing consistent fleet risk management. That involves minimizing the chance of incidents that put drivers in danger and/or lead to huge costs for a fleet, including fines, vehicle repairs and even lawsuits.
Driver Behavior and Training
Even as applicants for driver positions leveled off years ago, demand for freight transport has increased. Some expert projections call for the shortage of drivers to reach 250,000 by the end of 2022. With the supply of drivers low, fleet managers want to maximize the productivity of the drivers they have. That includes monitoring behind-the-wheel performance and offering effective driver training.
Technology provides strong support in these areas. In-cab cameras monitor driver behavior, ensuring that those who follow best practices for safety and efficiency are recognized for their efforts. They also help managers identify areas that need improvement for individual drivers and focus their training accordingly.
One of the biggest fleet management challenges involves keeping vehicles on the road. Breakdowns on the road mean blown delivery times and costly repairs. Routine repairs, servicing and parts replacement is key to a safe fleet.
Telematics systems can automate this task in two ways. Using connected devices, systems can monitor an engine while it’s in service, detecting issues and providing a warning before they turn into a full-blown problem. They also keep track of routine maintenance needs, giving managers more time to schedule service without disrupting operations.
Reducing Risk of Crashes
The nation’s roads are more unsafe than ever in recent years, with crash rates increasing in the latest government reports. In addition to driver training on issues such a distracted driving and unsafe driving habits, telematics can support better outcomes and reduced risk by providing automated crash avoidance systems that monitor blind spots and provide forward collision and lane departure warnings.
This is another headache for fleet managers. The amount of paperwork involved with regulatory compliance has only grown in recent years. But telematics systems can automate much of the work involved with collecting and filing reports with government agencies. This includes electronic logging devices that ensure compliance with DOT, FMCSA and FDA regulations, as well as the required reports for the International Fuel tax.
Fuel costs have soared in the past year. At one point in the summer of 2022, diesel fuel costs were 68 percent higher than the level in 2021. While prices dropped, they remain higher than the previous year, adding to the burden that fuel costs always place on fleets. Telematics solutions that can help with fuel costs include fuel cards that give managers control over when and where fuel is purchased. Also, systems that monitor driver behavior can provide them real-time warnings when they engage in behavior that leads to higher rates of burning fuel, such as excessive idling or abrupt braking.
Using telematics in these areas can help managers get a handle on fleet management challenges that increase risk and lower productivity and profitability. They give fleet managers an edge that keeps them out in front in a competitive market.