Are you interested in investing in a fleet tracking system for your organization? If so, you aren't alone. Fleet tracking – or vehicle tracking as some call it – is as popular as ever. It allows businesses in a variety of industries to keep track of their employees and assets in a convenient and cost-effective manner. But if you're considering fleet tracking, you have to also think about some of the important responsibilities that come along with it.
In 2017, when data is king, this means carefully collecting, storing, organizing and using the data that you gather.
The challenges of fleet management
As you're well aware, fleet management is challenging and, at times, frustrating. Not only are you responsible for tracking vehicles and knowing where they are at all times, but you also have to think about things like efficiency, driver safety, expenses and profitability.
When you consider some of the following challenges it's easy to get overwhelmed.
1. Driver safety
There's nothing more important to a fleet manager than driver safety. As a fleet manager, your biggest focus is eliminating preventable accidents. Not only does accident prevention keep drivers safe and healthy, but it also prevents lawsuits, bolsters your reputation, and mitigates expenses related to repairs and downtime.
2. Keeping costs down
Over the years, costs have naturally gone up. While new tools and resources have offset some of these costs, it’s more expensive than ever to manage a fleet. And when you throw unpredictability into the equation (at the hands of volatile fuel prices), there's a lot of stress on the economic side of things.
3. Proper asset utilization
In big organizations, there's always the risk that assets – such as vehicles – go unnoticed and unused. This results in a huge loss of productivity and significant losses in terms of capital investments.
4. Dispersed teams
One of the more challenging aspects of managing a fleet is trying to keep everyone on the same page when people and assets are spread all over the country. Managing a remote team where people are constantly on the move is difficult and requires a lot of focus.
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How fleet tracking helps
It's easy to get frustrated by the challenges that you face, but the good news is that fleet tracking systems tend to solve most of these issues. These systems – while each proprietary to their respective software vendor – tend to combine sophisticated GPS tracking technology with advanced mapping and reporting software. Little devices are installed on vehicles which then transmit locational and diagnostic data to the system.
An advanced fleet tracking system addresses each of the four previously mentioned challenges. It improves driver safety by ensuring drivers don't drive more than they should in a given day and by providing weather updates. It keeps costs down by ensuring vehicles always take the most efficient routes.
A fleet tracking system ensures your company knows where every single vehicle in the fleet is at all times, which allows you to maximize all of your assets. And finally, this visibility makes it far easier to efficiently manage drivers who are spread out all over the country.
But the ironic thing is that fleet tracking – for all of the value that it provides and all of the issues it alleviates – creates an entirely new set of issues. It introduces vast amounts of data into your organization. And you have to be prepared for how your organization is going to manage and act on this data.
3 tips for maximizing the data you collect
"A fleet of thousands generates a huge amount of data for fleet managers to review. The larger the fleet, the more information that’s generated," points out Telogis, a provider of fleet tracking software. "Consider that GPS devices are generally set to update their position every two minutes. That's 30 updates every hour. 720 every day."
Using those numbers, you can quickly do the math. If you have a fleet of 500 vehicles, that's 360,000 packets of data you’re receiving every single day – or more than 2.5 million per week. How do you possibly interpret and use all of this information? Here are some tips to consider:
1. Simplify what you collect
“It is important to realize that although GPS tracking systems are capable of capturing an unlimited amount of fleet data, it doesn’t mean that you should be receiving it all just because you can,” says Jenny Malcolm of GPS Insight. “Data overload is a common challenge expressed by fleet managers and typically occurs when too much information is being monitored.”
In order to simplify what you collect, you have to begin by setting specific objectives. These goals will keep you grounded and tell you when it's appropriate to track something versus when it's irrelevant.
2. Have a plan for measuring data
Most businesses have goals set when they decide to adopt a fleet tracking system. In most cases, the problem is that they don't have a plan for measuring the data. They assume that the data will tell them what to do, when it's up to the user to interpret the results. If you don't have the ability to measure and interpret data, be sure that there's someone on your staff who does.
3. Act as soon as possible
The final piece of advice is to take action. The longer you sit on data, the more likely it is that it will get lost in a sea of other information that regularly pours into your business. As soon as you measure data and discover an actionable takeaway, get started. There's no place for idleness.
Maximize your fleet tracking system
Interest in fleet tracking systems is at an all-time high. This is partly due to the fact that the technology has finally improved to a point that it's cost-effective and highly functional. (The scalable nature of the cloud doesn't hurt, either.) But most fleet managers desire a better solution.
While there's nothing wrong with being anxious to integrate a fleet tracking system into your organization, just make sure you're prepared to handle the data that comes with it.