Fleet Manager Challenges

The 5 Biggest Fleet Management Challenges

Fleet managers are often required to juggle multiple priorities while also reducing costs and increasing productivity. Successful fleet management depends on creative solutions in order to tackle the myriad details that unfold daily. When managers are organized and armed with multiple tools, it is easier to keep all stakeholders — including drivers and customers — happy and satisfied. 

Each fleet manager’s job is different and duties can largely depend on the industry and business size. However, there are some fleet management challenges that are universally shared by the majority of fleet managers everywhere. And most of those burdens can be overcome through telematics and workflow automation. Universal challenges:

1. Managing growth with fewer drivers

Over the last decade, any industry relying on trucks was faced with an unprecedented shortage of drivers and there isn’t an end in sight. As demands for freight transport continue to escalate, more has to be done to attract new drivers. As it stands now, the number of people entering the trucking profession is nowhere close to meeting the demand. Experts at the American Trucking Associations (ATA) predict the shortage of delivery drivers could top 160,000 by 2028. A recent ATA report indicates that 1.1 million new drivers have to be hired over the next decade to meet demand.

In the meantime, fleet managers are striving to ensure the drivers they do have are happy, safe and well-trained. Dash cam footage can help make fleet management easier by providing insight into their drivers’ habits and behaviors. Video can also be used to create meaningful educational materials to better train less experienced drivers. This helps alleviate the risk of a costly break-in period and reduces the likelihood of multiple replacements. Footage can also be used to point out and reward superior driving habits and justify increased compensation for more experienced drivers. 

2. Improving driver safety

One of the biggest fleet management challenges faced by fleet managers today is keeping their drivers safe. Driver education is one of the most important aspects when it comes to preventing accidents. Smart fleet managers are being proactive by turning to technology to track driver habits and enforce best practices. Armed with data, managers can create safety education action plans designed for accident prevention.

Most accidents are caused by distracted driving, driver fatigue and/or long periods of time on the road. One way to combat these problems is for fleet managers to utilize a system that helps minimize risks, such as ensuring drivers take mandated breaks. By tapping dash cam technology, managers will know if drivers are distracted by texting, eating or smoking. With detailed footage and pre-determined alerts, managers can keep an eye out for red flags, such as hard braking, fast turns and sudden slowdowns in speed. 

3. Controlling expenses and reducing overhead

No matter what the industry is or what the economy is doing, part of the fleet management responsibility is to increase productivity while lowering expenses. One of the easiest ways to do that is to take advantage of forecasting tools. This means keeping abreast of both industry and economic trends. It is also important to track driver data for insight into eliminating idle time and improving route efficiency.

Another big money saver can come from creating a program to reduce fuel costs. A fleet’s fuel costs can account for as much as 60% of its operating budget. Staying on top of fuel usage reports can help managers stay alert to trends. The key is being able to track, store and record all vehicle data.

A GPS tracking system is a vital component in fleet management, especially when it comes to cost control. It is an important tool in monitoring fuel consumption and finding ways to reduce overhead. Data analysis and video footage can lead to improved policies and smoother operations. Further, having set policies in place can help define driver expectations and set the stage for best practices. This will enable managers to resolve known issues swiftly and limit unnecessary downtime. 

4. Increasing driver productivity

A driver’s time is a fleet manager’s most important asset — and biggest expense. One of the main ways to advance performance is to find ways to reduce or even eliminate wasted time. Technology can help streamline key fleet management operations such as mapping better routes and efficiently allocating assets. Just replacing manual processes with automation will help fleet managers save time.

Unexpected downtime for maintenance and repairs can largely be avoided with fleet management tools like dash cams. A GPS tracking system also provides managers with data analysis and video footage that can be used to enhance productivity by improving driver training. Well-trained drivers are less likely to waste time with excessive idling, incorrect shifting, or unauthorized side trips.

Calculating the most efficient routes is also a big determining factor in delivery times and productivity. Software created specifically for dispatch technicians, such as GPS tracking systems, can become an essential tool in this regard. GPS camera systems can track vehicle location, calculate the quickest routes and assist in determining the best vehicle to dispatch. By monitoring highway conditions you can help drivers avoid slowdowns caused by construction, accidents or weather. 

5. Dealing with changing times

Change is the only constant in fleet management and in the past few years, change has been rapid. It’s impossible to be prepared for everything — the COVID-19 pandemic caught every industry off guard — however fleets that are well-managed are more likely to benefit from new technologies, developments and even regulations. Being prepared for inevitable change can lead to a profitable future.

Extreme climatic events have proven to be a catalyst for change as environmental concerns increasingly started grabbing headlines. The result has been stricter standards and tighter environmental legislation. Fleet managers who stay aware of changing laws can more easily formulate smart strategies, like exploring the use of electric and autonomous vehicles. It is predicted that half of all vehicles sold will be powered by electricity between 2035 and 2040.