03 Feb
Can fleet managers streamline their operations with big data?

Should fleet managers be leveraging big data?

There are few jobs left out there that haven't been touched by technology in one way or another. Despite the trends, many industries and the positions within them have remained relatively steady in the face of growing digital disruption.

Fleet managers, for example, can of course rely on technology in myriad ways. There are telematics systems to consider, and even vehicles themselves can be high-tech pieces of kit. However, much of their day job is centred on liaising with drivers, and keeping operations running smoothly without a pronounced digital helping hand.

Going forward, will this remain the case, or will the next generation of fleet managers become reliant on a constant stream of ones and zeros? Well, while there's no way of predicting the future, it goes without saying that knowledge is power – and that's a mantra that the fleet managers of tomorrow will simply have to live by.

Fleet managers that leverage data in the here and now will be able to better deal with challenges in the future.

Big data and fleet management

The sheer amount of information collated by even modestly sized enterprises is growing by the day, with the concept of this influx known as 'big data' in the business world. How will this be applicable to fleet managers?

Simply, those that can leverage information to better understand the needs of drivers, customers, and their organisation at large will be equipped to deal with challenges and change.

In fact, SmartDataCollective contributor Ryan Kidman explained that there are very few facets of any fleet management operation that won't be improved by more data in the near future. Three of the most prominent areas are:

1. More thorough, scheduled maintenance

Naturally, this relates to the data generated by vehicles themselves, but it goes without saying that the telematics solution of tomorrow will provide even more in-depth, real-time data. The old method of servicing cars, vans and trucks centred on pre-determined dates in the calendar or the amount of mileage the vehicle may have done could well be numbered.

In the future, garnering more accurate information about specific parts may be possible, with the cost and efficiency benefits of carrying out maintenance work at the most opportune time incredibly pronounced.

2. Better routing

It's possible to equip today's drivers with complex mapping technologies, but many fleet managers don't leverage the data that such systems produce. Those that do going forward will be able to significantly streamline their operations.

Specifically, it will be possible to assess everything including rush hour traffic patterns, speed limits, roadworks etc in real time, and ensure that the business' vehicles are on the right track more consistently.

Will tomorrow's fleet managers be able to better optimise the routes that drivers take?Will tomorrow's fleet managers be able to better optimise the routes that drivers take?

3. Operation efficiency and cost savings

One of the biggest ongoing expenditures for fleet managers is fuel. If the company owns and operates a vast number of vehicles, the monthly costs of petrol and diesel can easily spiral into tens of thousands of dollars.

Consequently, another data set that fleet managers need to have a broad understanding of is efficiency statistics. In keeping an eye on how much each vehicle is costing from an economy perspective, it will be much easier to assess the overarching value of any fuel cards, as well as garner whether the fleet as a whole is performing efficiently.

A growing trend

"Big data will drive decisions for all aspects of fleet management, including vehicle selection, maintenance management, and driver safety planning,"  said Becky Langmandel, director, strategic modelling & analytics at LeasePlan USA, as quoted by Automotive Fleet.

"With the continued use of fleet analytics and accessibility to greater amounts of data, fleets will become more efficient, operate with fewer resources, and show an increase in productivity," she concluded.

While Ms Langmandel assessment is relatively encompassing, there appears to be no denying that fleet managers who utilise data going forward will have a better chance of finding success, as after all, knowledge really is power in today's business world.