Managing the safety of vehicle assets is a critical process for many organisations.
Companies in the automotive, food and beverage, and retail sectors have to provide their vehicles with regular maintenance and alterations to suit the changing needs of their businesses.
Fleet-intensive industries such as shipping, aviation, and construction also need successful fleet management to ensure smooth business operations with minimal downtime.
In this article, we’re going to explore everything about fleet management, from definitions and legal obligations to the benefits of vehicle management, its common challenges, and current market solutions to improve vehicle fleet management.
A vehicle is defined in the dictionary as “a thing used for transporting people or goods” and described legally as “an instrument of conveyance to transport passengers or things by land, water, or air.”
Vehicle fleet management is the process of monitoring, managing, and maintaining vehicles in an organisation’s fleet and is overseen by fleet managers.
According to the HSE, vehicles at work continue to be a major cause of fatal and major injuries. Over 5,000 incidents in the UK involve transport every year, where about one-third of road accidents involve someone working at the time and around 50 are fatal.
Under HSE laws, every employer is obliged to ensure their vehicles are maintained in an efficient state and working order through regular inspections and preventive maintenance. This means employers are also obliged to control all the risks associated with vehicles, namely:
To achieve this, HSE’s guidelines further states that every employer in the UK is legally obligated to:
The benefits of vehicle fleet management can be seen in the improved efficiency, safety and sustainability.
When vehicles are well-maintained, it optimises efficiency in several ways. First, it ensures vehicles are as fuel-efficient as they can be. Reduced fuel consumption helps to improve the bottom line.
Second, well-maintained vehicles have less risk of breaking down. Not only does this reduce repair costs, but it also makes it possible for companies to maintain their vehicle stock at peak performance levels all year round regardless of seasonal demand spikes or slowdowns.
Vehicles in tip-top condition have a lower risk of being involved with incidents. Fewer incidents involving vehicles mean:
The combined benefits of vehicle efficiency and safety contribute toward business sustainability.
Cutting down on fuel expenditures, vehicle repairs, and vehicle replacements gives an organisation higher profits, cash flow, and capital to grow the company.
Optimal vehicle maintenance and lower rates of vehicle incidents can help a company benefit from lower insurance premiums and cut down vehicle depreciation rates, further boosting the bottom line.
Companies will also achieve a better business reputation when there are fewer missed orders or disruptions to service caused by vehicle incidents. Clients and customers alike will trust the reliability of an organisation that has a solid reputation for minimal delays or service disruptions.
A good business reputation doesn’t just keep clients and customers happy. It keeps your employees happy too. When drivers feel their safety is cared for by a reputable company, they are more likely to be more productive and loyal. This can boost business growth while reducing expensive turnover at the same time.
A vehicle fleet manager oversees this process to maximise efficiency, improve safety, and minimise costs. Fleet managers are responsible for a diverse range of duties.
When it comes to health and safety, fleet managers are responsible for keeping drivers and vehicles safe. This means they’re accountable for scheduling vehicle maintenance and repairs, handling any vehicle issues, and monitoring their drivers’ safety when they are out on the road.
This can be challenging because there are two distinctly different safety aspects to handle: employees and vehicles. Each element intersects with other health and safety processes, creating a mind field of tasks and checks for fleet managers to navigate.
Adding to the challenge, fleet managers are often also in charge of other operational duties such as hiring drivers, assigning vehicles to drivers, managing schedules, determining delivery schedules and routes, and monitoring vehicle mileage usage or fuel-efficiency.
That’s a lot for fleet managers to handle!
The following section will look at some common solutions available on the market to help fleet managers streamline their work and remove stress.
Here are some standard fleet management solutions that can streamline operations and increase efficiency.
Vehicle inspection software is a game-changer. It saves time, money and effort by eliminating paper forms and databases. Drivers can complete inspections in minutes, saving you time and money on each vehicle inspection.
Vehicle inspection software that is cloud-based and mobile-friendly also makes it incredibly easy for drivers to complete their safety inspections before every shift. Being cloud-based, supervisors have better visibility of inspections submitted in real-time.
This means they can be alerted of any possible issues in real-time and respond with the appropriate corrective action or emergency response in a more timely manner.
Whether it’s reporting an accident, a near-miss, or a hazard, cloud-based incident reporting systems make it easier for fleet managers to get a real-time pulse on the health of their fleet safety.
Legacy manual inspection reporting systems, on the other hand, can cause two types of problems. The first is lack of mobility. It can be cumbersome to carry and fill out physical incident report forms while drivers are in transit.
The second problem with physical inspection forms is that if they are kept at a central location, reporting will be delayed as it can only be done when the drivers return to their main base. Furthermore, any incidents reported in this manner may also not be as accurate due to human memory error after a time-lapse.
Cloud-based incident reporting systems solve both these issues by simplifying reporting incidents from wherever the drivers are through their mobile devices.
Pen-and-paper inspection forms and incident reports make it challenging to keep track of discussions and any corrective and preventive measures. Thankfully, some vehicle inspection software and cloud-based incident reporting systems come with an integrated digital task management feature.
Amongst some of the capabilities, this feature offers threaded comments and media uploading. This makes it easy for employees and their managers to discuss an inspection, incident, or hazard to determine the best corrective or preventive action.
The task management and tagging features make it easy for managers to follow up on any preventive or corrective tasks, creating a faster and more streamlined path to vehicle fleet management.
While there are many advantages to having digital vehicle fleet management solutions, they can be challenging to implement. Change in any organisation is often met with resistance.
Here are a few tips you can use to create a smooth transition into digital vehicle fleet management solutions.
Vehicle fleet management is a challenging responsibility with many moving parts. However, with the right digital solutions, you can shave off a significant amount of manual coordination and stress when upholding safety for vehicles and drivers.
If you’re interested in the most efficient way to implement digital vehicle fleet management solutions, find out how Workflows can help your employees streamline how they do vehicle inspections, safety checks, and risk assessments to stay safe on the road.
Sign up for a free 14-day trial of Workflows to experience a visually intuitive way to streamline vehicle fleet management.