"Time is money." When I think of the logistics industry, this saying comes to my mind. Fleet managers are faced with a real challenge: How can I make the necessary transports in the shortest possible time at the lowest possible cost and satisfy my customers? This applies to the transport of goods, machines as well as service staff, for example. With the help of new digital technologies, the comparatively personnel-intensive industry can coordinate its considerable organizational effort much more efficiently. Here are six examples.
A Lünendonk study shows that fleet management systems can save more than 60 percent of fleet costs. The biggest item here is fuel savings. This is up to 30 percent of the costs. But there is still further potential: reducing unladen transports to a minimum, covering fewer kilometers per journey through route planning and navigation. This not only makes sense ecologically, but also reduces vehicle wear, decreases maintenance costs and increases service life. It may also lead to lower insurance premiums.
The Internet of Things allows connected processes. Thanks to optimal connectivity, cloud computing, big data and security, machines, devices and sensors can develop their full potential and provide the fleet manager with the key to transparency: he knows the location of the vehicles, fuel and maintenance costs and private use. He has an overview of the operating times and availability of the drivers. He can calculate fleet performance. Want a few examples?
- The special order: The customer urgently wants a service employee to come.
In the case of spontaneous customer enquiries, the dispatcher used to previously call all vehicles. Then he knew their location. He planned the route using an online map. According to incoming orders and customer requirements. Vehicles drove from A to F, then back to B.
Now GPS tracking supports him with a user-friendly online portal for various evaluations. Dongles in the vehicles send the GPS data of the vehicle via the integrated SIM card. All tracking data flow into a convenient graphic display. They can be easily evaluated and further used, for example with instruments for better route planning. If a customer asks when the service employee arrives, he can get information directly on the phone. For special orders, the planner can ask a close-by employee for assistance. The service employees waste less travel time. This reduces wage costs and fuel consumption.
- Compare competitors: The customer wants offers in advance.
A valid offer covers above all the company's own costs. With GPS tracking, the dispatcher can see all the vehicles on the site or at other points in the online portal. He knows their estimated operating and standing times.
This allows him to conveniently plan optimized routes. On the basis of this planning, he can also estimate the required working time of the teams more precisely. This helps with the preliminary calculation of orders.
- Safety: Excessive speed may cause accidents and costs more fuel.
The company has a justifiable interest in drivers following the traffic rules. An intelligent black box displays the location, movement and driving time of a vehicle in the online portal. Sensors record vehicle condition, battery voltage, engine data and more. From the data, the platform generates detailed analysis reports on speeding violations, braking behavior or acceleration. Immediate notification is possible if a vehicle is involved in an accident. And safety can also be trained: Driver coaching helps prevent traffic violations and accidents. Premiums can be saved if corresponding agreements are made with the insurance company.
- Investment: New technology does not automatically mean new fleet.
Replace the entire fleet for digitization? This is not necessary. The dongles for GPS tracking can be easily and quickly attached to the OBD-II interfaces (on-board diagnostics) in the vehicles with no need to go to the repair shop. Also in leasing vehicles. The dispatcher has access to the entire solution via the online portal in the cloud using smartphone, tablet or computers. Thanks to automatic updates, the software is always on the latest level and the data is protected against unauthorized access.
- Attractive employer: the industry is fighting for drivers.
Customer wishes, delivery reliability and keeping to the deadlines have top priority for the companies. For this, you need good people. Being allowed to use a company car for private purposes brings companies in a better position in the competition for qualified personnel. In German tax regulations, a driver's logbook can bring greater tax advantages for the private use of company cars than the so-called one-percent rule. However, it’s better to use an electronic logbook version: Thanks to GPS, all important information such as date and time, starting point, destination and the distance travelled in kilometers are automatically recorded. Then reworking is very easy.
- The certain extra: having the eyes everywhere.
The customer is concerned about his valuable machines during transport. Here too, digital technologies can provide security: GPS positioning and alarms protect against misuse and theft. They help to prevent unauthorised activities such as door openings, fuel theft or power diversion.
Fleet outages hit both the company and the customer hard. Sensors help to prevent such failures. They record engine activity at the most important data points and report maintenance requirements in good time.
Fleet management solutions are available for every customer requirement and every company size. From dongle and built-in trackers to tacho solutions. Searching for information on the Internet certainly is the first step. A conversation with experts helps. Then it's time to start. Small steps instead of theoretical concepts. This is also recommended by the Bundesvereinigung Logistik (BVL) in its position paper on logistics.