At a Glance
- Managing a fleet requires a multi-faceted approach, with three focus areas: fleet availability, utilisation, and reliability.
- Fleet management is important because it improves operational efficiency, delivery time and customer satisfaction, and reduces overhead expenditures.
- To improve fleet efficiency, implement effective planning and scheduling, dispatch/movement management, workforce planning and labour productivity, fuel management, and maintenance management.
Fleet refers to the vehicles a company uses to deliver its services, and can include a wide range of vehicles, from cars and buses to trains, aircraft and ships. Regardless of the industry, fleet maintenance is an essential aspect for achieving operational excellence.
Managing a fleet requires a multi-faceted approach, with three focus areas: fleet availability, utilisation, and reliability. Addressing the challenges and opportunities in each of these areas can improve overall operations, resulting in increased profitability.
Fleet management and its importance
Many companies face various fleet management challenges. Let’s briefly discuss each aspect of fleet management:
- Fleet availability. Availability refers to the amount of time a fleet is in service and able to perform its primary function. Maximising fleet availability means having vehicles in top condition, ready to serve customers at all times.
- Fleet utilisation. This refers to the effective use of the available fleet. High fleet utilisation is the goal as it enables companies to perform as many revenue-generating activities as possible.
- Fleet reliability. The reliability of a company’s fleet determines how often they need to be serviced and ultimately affects the number of assets available. Key factors affecting reliability are preventive and corrective maintenance, availability of spare parts and the efficiency with which maintenance activities can be carried out.
Fleet management is important because it:
- Improves operational efficiency. Data from The Fleets Technology Trends Report shows that 45% of 1,200 US fleet managers saw a positive return on investment (ROI) in less than 11 months when using fleet management solutions, an increase of 18.4% from the previous year
- Improves delivery time and customer satisfaction. Through effective fleet planning, you can significantly improve vehicle reliability, ensuring on-time delivery or arrivals and improving customer satisfaction.
- Reduces overhead costs. According to the same report, the implementation of a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking software in vehicles has resulted in a 9% reduction in fuel costs, a 12% reduction in labour costs, and a significant 17% reduction in accident-related expenditures. The software keeps track of various fleet-related aspects, including the vehicles’ route history, historical events, and vehicle maintenance schedule, all of which help improve accident response times and overall fleet operational efficiency.
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What you can do to improve fleet efficiency
Fleet management becomes more challenging as companies grow, and their fleets grow with them. Here are some ways to support your growing fleet.
1. Planning and scheduling
Effective fleet management starts with careful planning and scheduling. Well-designed routes lead to efficient journeys and better coverage. A well-planned route minimises idle time and reduces fuel consumption. It also increases fleet utilisation.
2. Workforce planning and labour productivity
Trucks, tractors and buses require drivers with specific skills and experience, so managers need to ensure that each vehicle has a qualified driver. Managers also need to organise their workforce to ensure the smooth movement of containers, couriers and baggage. This requires regular analysis of data on staffing levels, vehicle performance, and labour productivity, and the use of this information to improve operations.
3. Fuel management
Managing fuel consumption and leakage can help logistics companies save costs and improve service delivery. Fuel can be the largest expense for some fleet-centric companies. To optimise fuel consumption, managers need to plan the best routes and delivery times based on road conditions, delivery priorities, and other factors.
4. Maintenance management
Maintenance is one of the most common areas for improvement in the logistics and transport industry. Many companies lack standard maintenance schedules, planning guidelines, or productivity measurement tools for their maintenance teams. The turnaround time of an asset under maintenance depends on effective planning to ensure that a vehicle isn’t out of service longer than it should be. Vehicle maintenance can also save fuel costs by keeping the fleet in optimum condition.
A case study in productivity improvement through fleet management
Renoir worked with a state-owned bus operator to transform its operations and maintenance processes. The project delivered remarkable results, including a significant 32% increase in productivity following implementation within the existing Management Control System (MCS).
Several tools such as productivity key performance indicators (KPIs), Standard Repair Times, and a Skills Matrix were implemented, resulting in optimised resource deployment, increased efficiency, and productivity. These improvements helped to increase fleet availability to meet the needs of the operations.
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