The transport sector has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time when it comes to fleet management. The digital age has ensured that vehicle health, performance and location are optimised, leading to reduced downtime and improved efficiency. But with the ability to measure more parameters, operators now face the decision of which software package – or software packages – to use and how to get the best out of each one.
Key elements include jobs from sales order processing, telematics and tracking, vehicle engineering data and tachograph details. These are often handled by different parts of a business, so does it make sense to go with a software package that does everything, or different ones that have been designed from the outset to control and monitor a specific area of the business?
Regan Greeff comes from 13 years working in the automotive telematics sector, and is the recently appointed technology solutions manager at truck supplier Fraikin (some of whose recent contracts are depicted). He has a good idea of what might work and what might not for transport operators of all sizes.
“The question of what the holy grail is for fleet management systems – which best suits an operator – is often typical of what we have when we fill in tender requirements,” he says. “At Fraikin, we work in a consultative manner with customers, from understanding the requirements to fit their business needs – and providing detailed specifications for OEMs and bodybuilders. Once the truck is delivered, that’s when the hard work starts.”
Fraikin manages its own fleet as well as those of its customers, which gives it a good understanding of the same pain points they are experiencing that come with managing a large fleet in the most efficient and effective way, he says. “We understand the economies of scale to drive ROI for customers and we also have partnerships with OEMs and a vast network of suppliers, which allows us to deliver the level of service that customers expect.”
From a telematics and vehicle data perspective, Greeff says that Fraikin’s solutions can process data in real time and understand if any faults are present. “That allows us to inform both scheduled and predictive maintenance teams, which, in turn, leads to reduced vehicle downtime. We can also then deliver accurate mileage reporting and timing notifications of dashboard warning lights to identify faults before the vehicle goes out on to the road. Awareness of fleet utilisation also allows us to identify areas of improvement with respect to the optimisation and also optimal use of fleet. So understanding how the vehicles are used, mileage driven and CO2 emissions, we can then help them to drive cost-cutting and other savings.”
Greeff maintains that getting the right understanding of what the fleet solutions are designed to do is an integral part of getting the most out of them. “In some cases, customers who have introduced telematics into their fleet management were either not shown how to use the system or they were not engaged at the start,” he contends.
“As a result, they were not able to drive the ROI or measure return improvements, driver safety, etc. But because Fraikin already has a relationship with those customers on long-term contract hire or short-term truck rental, we can then use our existing telematics platform to embed their business processes within the platform. So not only can we use the telematics to provide us in our internal systems with predictive maintenance, but also show our customers how they can use it for their own fleet management.”
There have been situations, Greeff says, where customers would buy a telematics box, have it fitted and think that after that their problems would be solved and it would deliver fuel savings. But, as he stresses, it’s an ongoing conversation that needs to be had between all parties. “Normally, if a driver knows the box has been fitted, they will start to drive a bit better for the first week or two, but then either become complacent, or will forget that it is there. It is the aftersales engagement – not only from the transport manager’s office, but also the drivers themselves – using technology to be safer on the road. Not only does that benefit public safety, but it also helps reduce fuel consumption, emissions and insurance premiums.”
Fraikin describes its fleet management system as an all-in-one solution that can make a difference to all parts of the business. However, Greeff can see the reasons why some people might prefer to look at adopting separate technologies for telematics and tracking, tachograph data and vehicle engineering.
“One of the advantages with using that kind of fragmented system, is that you’re not putting all your eggs into one basket,” he reasons. “If you choose to use someone else after you’ve had a bad experience in one area, you’re free to do that. And, obviously, if you have one system supplying all those areas, it’s more difficult to move. However, you are then faced with having multiple systems that you have to log into to get the critical information – as well as a longer list of people to complain to when something goes wrong!”
Another important factor when it comes to all-encompassing fleet management solutions is the environmental aspect. Although this was not something that would have been a high priority for operators a generation ago, it is now at the forefront of lots of decisions. As such, Greeff says that promoting environmental responsibility targets and the road to net zero is now important.
“What we find is that a number of different operators are not aware of what their current fleet usage really is,” he explains. “Fleet managers will know which trucks they have in their fleet – and that they are spending a certain amount on fuel – but what they often don’t have is an understanding of which ones are using the most fuel and which are the least fuel efficient. And, therefore, if they are not sure how to capture the CO2 emissions, they won’t know how to measure the improvements. We can advise on those sort of areas to make sure [of] which ones are suitable for changeover from the existing diesels to EV or any other alternative fuel vehicles, based on utilisation.”
A waste management specialist says the roll-out of a 4G telematics camera system is proving invaluable when it comes to protecting its truck drivers and its reputation. Recycling and resource recovery firm Enva uses Durite cameras in its 130-strong HGV fleet in Scotland. The company started with single forward-facing cameras, upgraded to a multi-camera digital video recording (DVR) system, then progressed even further by installing Durite Live systems. Alan Jackson, Enva’s fleet maintenance supervisor with responsibility for Scotland, said: “We decided to move to Durite Live to provide quicker access to that footage and even better protection for our drivers. It has proved invaluable to us. This could be a collision or even something as simple as providing proof to a client that we had visited their site on a specific date and time to collect waste.” Durite Live enables fleet managers to manage their vehicles more effectively by live streaming footage from any camera on any truck. Users can also remotely download footage immediately after a road traffic incident.
Meanwhile, TruTac, along with its parent Microlise, has released a series of new features across various products, enabling simultaneous product access and smooth data integration. Customers can now view Microlise’s tracking system within TruTac’s TruControl tachograph analysis and reporting software. Following a major new release and product update, users can see their vehicles’ location and associated information within the platform, giving them an instant overview of all their fleet’s data in one place.