Let’s Fix It: Why Traditional Fleet Tracking Isn’t Working for You Anymore
Running a fleet of vehicles – lorries, trucks, cars, motorbikes, or anything else – can get expensive. First, the act of buying and replacing both vehicles and their parts require a huge investment. Then there is the time and money needed to operate and maintain them.
To help contain costs, a dizzying number of fleet tracking systems has flooded the market. At the top of the spectrum are comprehensive top-end management solutions that automate manual tasks, reduce errors, improve efficiencies, predict routes and customer requests – in short, do pretty much anything you need to leave your competition in the dust.
However, a good many companies still opt for the most basic, inefficient, and error-prone systems; relying on spreadsheets and whiteboards to keep track of vehicle health and schedules. If they adopt more advanced technology, it tends to be piecemeal programmes – software that helps in one small area, such as logging hours or routing. Unsurprisingly, what these do for the overall process is negligible.
‘Invisible’ problems hiding in plain sight
Traditional systems are fraught with inherent problems. It was simply easier to ignore them until, as has happened in recent years, it became too costly to turn a blind eye.
This article intends to break the ‘it ain’t broken’ myth by examining three of their most severe drawbacks: Lack of visibility, slow reaction times, and the racking up unnecessary expenses.
Lack of visibility
While almost too obvious to mention, you simply can’t take care of what you can’t see. For decades, chalkboards, then whiteboards, proved useful in providing a central location where the day’s schedules and assignments could be listed. However, there were – and are – two major shortfalls. First, in order to access the information, it is necessary to physically stand in front of the whiteboard, wherever it may be. Second, the information is only as current as its most recent update. Drivers on the road have no way of knowing when schedules have been changed unless your office staff contacts them individually.
Spreadsheets make it easier to share updated data, but there are still limits in who can access and understand it. In addition, when sheets are shared and updated by different people, it is far too easy to lose track of the correct version.
Neither whiteboards nor spreadsheets let you know where your vehicles are at any given time – unless they are parked at your depot. Piecemeal GPS tracking lets you find vehicles, but only if you look for them individually. Therefore, most of the routes for most of your vehicles are dark. In this day and age, that is simply not good enough.
Do you know how much unnecessary expenses are accrued every month by your fleet?
Slow reaction times
Information is only useful when it can be applied in a practical manner. This means it has to be gathered, interpreted, and presented in such a way that the right people can identify problems and move to solve them.
Carrying out these steps manually is extremely slow, especially if your fleet manager is already busy with day-to-day tasks such as checking timesheets, scheduling, etc.
By the time an issue is identified, it may be too late for action. For example, you might find out about a driver’s dangerous road habits on social media before you are alerted to it at work. Worse, in the time that it takes for you to discover a problem, the event may have recurred, causing great damage to your company’s bottom line and reputation.
Consider the advantages of reports that allow you to look forward rather than backward. There is a limit to the usefulness of manually gathered information that can do little more than highlighting the areas where you lost money. How about a system that empowers your team to be proactive in solving issues in real-time, or before they even occur?
Racking up unnecessary expenses
Cumbersome, outdated planning systems accrue time, expenses, and errors. They also fail to alert you of more serious issues which could result in summons or even accidents. Furthermore, they keep your most experienced people too busy to explore new money-making opportunities.
Imagine for a minute that you could release your employees from the burden of complicated and time-consuming manual tasks. For one thing, your drivers would have more time to do additional routes, deliveries, and jobs. In addition, your team is free to explore business invigorating questions such as:
- How can we reduce fuel costs?
- How can we extend the life and health of our existing vehicles?
- How can we improve customer satisfaction and loyalty?
- How can we use existing resources to make significantly more deliveries or service calls?
- What can we do to significantly lower our insurance premiums?
There is a better way
Even before the imposition of MCO, logistics, manufacturing, and service companies were dealing with unprecedented competition, customer demand, and driver issues. Now, the uncertainty brought about by Covid-19 has provided numerous challenges – as well as opportunities – for any company that relies on its vehicles to do business. The rest of this series will deal with how to quickly and easily implement new systems that pay for themselves as well as provide that competitive advantage to thrive in the long-term.