A transportation management system is a must-have that can transform your logistics operations. It integrates a wide range of capabilities covering different logistics stages. Fleet management is one of those essential components that can encompass many factors. Regardless of your business type, you must have the following fleet management features in your TMS.
The most fundamental factor that your TMS should consider is to differentiate between trucks and cars. If you have both vehicles in your fleet, you may need separate fleet management options for each. That’s because these vehicles are different and have distinct purposes, features, and management requirements. As a result, you can’t follow the same maintenance steps for both vehicles.
Depending on your company’s operations, one of these vehicle groups may work harder than the other. In addition, trucks have heavier and more specialized workloads, creating unique maintenance requirements for them.
In addition, you may have allocated different budgets for each vehicle type. Based on the data provided by the fleet management system, you should decide whether to buy or rent these vehicles.
This decision hinges on different considerations, most importantly, the type of vehicle you will use more often. As a result, your fleet management system should consider the budget in every aspect, including vehicle positioning and maintenance measures.
Another essential part of fleet management is fleet tracking. The TMS may use fleet telematics to keep track of the vehicle and driver behavior. Telematics data show the speeds at which the vehicle is moving in real-time and whether a vehicle is idling.
It also tracks the driver’s braking, accelerating, or turning behaviors and generates actionable reports to improve their performance. This information gives fleet managers more visibility over the fleet and assets and positions them more strategically.
The fleet tracking software also uses GPS, which is the most common type of telematics, to keep track of your fleet activities. These can encompass trucks, cars, equipment, drivers, etc. Knowing where each vehicle is in the delivery cycle can help manage them more easily.
Proper vehicle use is another essential factor that a fleet tracking system should have. Vehicles must comply with the regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). For example, these regulations state how many hours trucks and drivers can work daily under the Hours of Service (HOS) rules.
The driver behaviors tracked by the fleet management software also include their break times. That’s another factor covered by HOS rules. Commercial vehicle drivers have the maximum working hours allowed by FMCSA, with a mandatory break after this period. While these factors were logged through manual paperwork, a fleet management software tool can make it more efficient by tracking driver behavior through telematics.
Finally, you can manage fuel costs by tracking driver behaviors throughout the delivery cycle. You can detect the behaviors that increase fuel consumption and train your drivers to avoid them. Also, you can prevent fraud by keeping track of the amount of fuel used for each trip and comparing it with the amounts recorded by the driver for reimbursement.
Predictive maintenance is one of the primary functions of TMS software. Having many vehicles in your fleet means the fleet manager must inspect the vehicle daily to ensure every vehicle is working properly. A wide range of factors need to be checked, and some of them can slip out of your hand if you don’t have a robust maintenance schedule.
Automating these maintenance tasks is one of the most significant advantages of a TMS platform. That’s why you should ensure the tool has a fleet maintenance capability to monitor the essential maintenance factors. The sensors used in the vehicle’s diagnostic board check factors such as fuel consumption to send maintenance alerts.
In addition, the fleet monitoring software plans a maintenance schedule based on the vehicle’s conditions. Sticking to this maintenance schedule helps ensure your vehicles are in tip-top shape and avoid downtime due to sudden failures. It also lengthens your vehicle’s lifespan by taking preemptive measures and replacing parts when required.
The software also helps you decide whether to perform in-house maintenance measures or outsource. It calculates how much these measures will cost and how you can save money.
Another key area is fleet dispatching, which can be challenging without fleet management software. You’ll miss out on critical automation opportunities if your TMS doesn’t have an integrated fleet-dispatching software component.
Fleet dispatching is crucial in offering on-time delivery and achieving customer satisfaction. If you were to dispatch vehicles manually, you’d have to consider many parameters. For example, the last time the vehicle and driver were on the road, the pickup time, the assigned road, the delivery time, etc., affect your dispatching decisions. These factors can be overwhelming and make your job challenging.
Fleet dispatch software can access real-time data to pick the right driver and vehicle for the assigned job. It maintains proper communication between the driver and other parties to ensure they perform their pickup and drop-off duties correctly.
Sometimes, route planning and optimization also fall under the fleet dispatch software’s duties. It has to find and adjust the best route based on traffic and weather conditions.
A significant part of supply chain activities happens outside offices and on the road. Drivers need a way to stay connected, access real-time data, and communicate with others. As a result, the TMS tool must have a mobile application to integrate the fleet management software and help drivers perform their tasks seamlessly.
In addition, the tracking activities mentioned above can be accomplished through GPS capabilities integrated into the mobile application.
The mobile application enables the driver to navigate roads in real-time, adjust their routes to prevent problematic roads, and see which part of their journey they’re on. In addition, they must communicate with the warehouse, dispatcher, fleet manager, or other related parties. These communications should happen on a centralized platform to prevent confusion and ensure speed.
The mobile app makes the driver’s job easier by creating a detailed workflow and telling them what to do during their workday. They have all the required legal paperwork on the app and sign them with digital signatures. They can also receive maintenance alerts on the mobile app to avoid failure and downtime.
Fleet management is an essential part of any supply chain and logistics company. Fleet managers face various challenges that a TMS with effective fleet management capabilities can address. Whether you achieve these goals manually and through a human fleet manager or use fleet management software, it can have the following benefits.
Businesses tend to focus on customer satisfaction so much that they may lose sight of their staff. However, you can’t deliver high-quality customer service without employee satisfaction. As a result, one of the primary tasks of a fleet management tool should be focusing on driver satisfaction.
An effective fleet management software tool can optimize the workflow for drivers so that they don’t experience burnout or other work-related issues. Optimized work and break schedules mean they don’t need to sit in their vehicles waiting for the next assignment.
They also don’t need to worry about maintenance issues because the company takes care of everything. In addition, the fleet management software also ensures driver safety through fleet tracking systems.
The route optimization capabilities in the TMS can make their job much easier by giving them the best and safest routes. They get notifications about closures, detours, weight and height limits, and weather conditions to drive safely and arrive at their destination faster.
When drivers have full visibility over their workflow and can perform their tasks smoothly, their job satisfaction improves. The higher their job satisfaction, the higher the driver retention.
In addition, when you track their behaviors through the fleet management system, you can train them to become better drivers and encourage them by providing incentives. These will give them a sense of worth and constant improvement.
Running a fleet of vehicles is costly, with all the fuel and maintenance bills pouring in daily. If people are in charge of handling these expenses, they can easily get overwhelmed and may make errors while calculating.
Although you may use automated solutions, such as fleet fuel cards, consolidating expenses still requires manual work. Fleet management systems can take the guesswork out of the process and manage all these costs and reimbursement processes.
One of the primary goals of task automation through TMS and fleet management software is reducing operational costs. Maintenance measures, route optimization, and asset tracking can reduce expenses directly or indirectly.
These actions will lower fuel consumption, premature failure, and regulatory fines due to violating laws or taking prohibited roads. In addition, the data gathered by AI and IoT devices help make strategic decisions that cut expenses.
When you cut expenses and increase efficiency, you can make your company more profitable even if your income doesn’t increase.
If you have a large fleet with interstate travel, you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of regulations you should comply with. In addition, regulations are constantly changing, so you should always be up-to-date to avoid getting fined. There are also tolls with different payment methods and processes.
Fleet management software takes care of all these details by keeping a record of everything you should pay for and track. For example, it records licensing, fuel tax filings, accident reports, and mileage permits and applies all changes depending on the state and new regulations. You don’t need different employees and experts to handle these matters, as the software will streamline all these processes.
Fleet management, apart from being an essential part of running a business, can offer great insights into the productivity and efficiency of your operations. Using the massive amount of data generated by software and IoT devices, you can use transportation analytics to get an accurate picture of your processes.
Business intelligence methods can create actionable reports using data gathered from different parts of the fleet management system. You can share these reports with staff, managers, and even customers to reach your goals and address issues.
Your fleet manager should monitor and analyze data regularly to plan strategically. For example, if you use third-party carriers, do the data show their efficiency or whether you have to ditch them? Do your fuel consumption patterns pose a challenge to your budget planning? What can you do to reduce costs? These are the benefits that a TMS platform offers, but you can get more granular data over its fleet management capabilities.
The fleet management capabilities in a TMS platform can address most challenges faced by fleet managers. They automize many fleet-related processes and minimize human errors. However, there are still some fleet management duties that a TMS can’t automate fully.
Hiring new drivers is one of the prominent challenges that fleet managers must overcome. According to the American Transportation Research Institute, driver shortage is fleet management’s number one concern. To make matters worse, hiring new drivers isn’t something you can do only by relying on your transportation management software.
Fleet managers may be able to automate the job application process, but some processes have to be completed in person. Deciding on the final candidates based on their capabilities requires a profound knowledge of the organization and its fleet requirements.
While vehicle maintenance is one of the main functions of a fleet management system, purchasing new vehicles requires processes that can’t be fully automated. The fleet manager needs to review all the viable options, compare prices, and negotiate with different companies.
Your TMS may be able to integrate vehicle acquisition software that incorporates all the options from manufacturers, their prices, and the online ordering process. Still, fleet managers may need to step in and review the options manually because vehicle acquisition can greatly impact the company’s profits and expenses.
What’s more, if the company has specific vehicle requirements, the fleet manager should oversee the upfitting process to make the vehicles fit their purposes.