The advent of the connected car has been rapid. According to one forecast, there will be more than 380 million connected cars on the road by 2021. In recent years, the connected car has been the third fastest-growing technological device, behind the smartphone and tablet. This robust growth is only likely to continue over the coming decade, as new features and opportunities present themselves. This poses challenges to fleet managers, but these are greatly outweighed by the possibilities that connected car technology offers.
Fleet managers are already reaping the rewards of fleet tracking technology, which has gone a long way to becoming an industry standard since the turn of the millennium. In conjunction with the wider adoption of connected car technology, we can expect to gain new insights into various aspects of fleet management – including individual driver conduct as well as insight into managing total vehicle ownership costs. This holds out the possibility of major advances not just in fleet efficiency but safety as well.
Increased connectivity allows for significant improvements to vehicle efficiency. It provides fleet managers with a wide range of vehicle data, offering them unprecedented information about the condition and performance of individual vehicles. GPS tracking data has been used for many years to instantly locate fleet vehicles, vastly reducing the amount of time it takes to locate remote employees. But more businesses are now integrating GPS data with maintenance schedules to help reduce un-planned vehicle maintenance through more effective planning. Keeping a fleet at full capacity can have a dramatic impact on business efficiency.
GPS fleet tracking is also starting to make the lives of staff and field employee’s easier, facilitating enhanced communication between the two and integrating the office and the field more effectively. This improved integration allows more information to be shared, quicker. It also delivers more robust, standardised communication structures so that everyone has more confidence in the information provided to them.
In the office clear information on vehicle location and status ensures customer queries can be answered swiftly, and plans changed as and when they need to be. Field employees meanwhile, have access to the information they need, clear instructions, simplified operational procedures such as vehicle safety checks, and access to customer details – helping them to do their job effectively. In addition, remote lone workers are always connected to the office ensuring they can be quickly reached in an emergency.
The fleet tracking safety revolution
GPS fleet tracking software has driven dramatic improvements in our understanding of road safety and in devising strategies. It has helped fleet managers to understand driver behaviour far better than they could have done previously, with the ability to analyse behavioural patterns and identify high-risk drivers. Fleet managers are now equipped with the information they need to shape training and development programmes tailored to drivers' individual needs.
Instances of aggressive acceleration, harsh cornering and heavy braking are all evidenced by fleet tracking data. This enables fleet managers to address these issues better than they could before, with hard evidence at their disposal. This data makes for a very powerful de-briefing tool, as fleet managers can show drivers exactly what behaviours they need to focus on – enabling for training and development schemes to be targeted at these specific needs.
Fleet tracking systems also make it possible to engage drivers in the training and development process far more effectively. This can be achieved in a number of ways - for instance, through the provision of in-vehicle feedback, ongoing investment in driver development and the creation of incentives schemes to give drivers something to aim for. Safety league tables could also be introduced to create a healthy degree of competition between drivers.
The use of GPS fleet tracking systems integrated with technologies such as dashboard cameras is also very effective at building a robust safety culture across the whole organisation. It creates a psychological commitment to safety among the workforce, as drivers see the commitment from the business to road safety.
The rise of mobile enterprise management
The continued popularity of smartphone and tablet apps will have implications for fleet management. Mobile enterprise management (MEM) looks set to be the next frontier in GPS fleet tracking, providing outstanding flexibility and taking fleet management out into the field for the first time. MEM will provide fleet managers with fleet tracking data in real time wherever they are, allowing them to perform a vast array of functions while on the move.
This should in turn ensure that further improvements in fleet efficiency and road safety are delivered. Fleet operators must make sure, however, that their chosen fleet tracking system provider is sufficiently up to speed with the ongoing evolution of the technology so they can continue to benefit from the improvements offered by the latest generation of devices and apps.