Leveraging the power of connected data, a smart fleet management platform can truly transform how your fleet makes critical business decisions by uncovering hidden costs and efficiencies, tracking and securing assets (and children in transit), and monitoring driver performance and safety.
However, implementing a fleet management solution across your entire fleet is a major investment. Beyond the up-front costs, the office and drivers on the ground must receive education and training and hardware and software may need to be installed on each vehicle. With the fleet management platform provider responsible for many of these processes, research and evaluation of providers’ key features and services is a critical first step. Below are three ways you can be certain that the fleet management platform provider you’ve chosen has your continued success in mind.
Safeguards Your Budget (and Your Compliance)
Your budget is important, but so is the service and support you receive. Strong providers know this and will have defenses in place to protect you from any significant financial or compliance-related surprises, maximizing your uptime.
At the minimum, these measures should include the development of tried-and-tested quality devices, with each device backed by 24/7/365 support. Managed tablets and their functionality should also be covered, ideally as part of the solution’s offering. The platform servicing those devices should also have a host of capabilities—third-party applications from the provider’s partnerships with other companies, for example, should be built in at no additional cost.
Strong providers ensure that their solutions are fully compliant with applicable regulations, while also being prepared for inevitable industry changes. Look for providers with dedicated compliance teams and safety experts on board who are knowledgeable on the latest safety measures for operators and riders alike.
Includes Indispensable Features and Tools
There are certain fleet management solutions that are, at this point, essential. To stay competitive and make the best use of your fleet’s resources, you’ll need to constellate a range of tools proven to streamline operations and make processes more efficient. The best smart fleet management platforms will weave those features together for your ease of use.
Predictive maintenance tools should be among the insights you receive in the dashboard of your chosen fleet management platform. Remote monitoring of vehicle health and diagnostics can identify minor problems early, allowing operators to make decisions about the most optimal times to perform maintenance, rather than just relying on routine maintenance to address otherwise unforeseeable issues. Being able to identify those issues in a timely manner not only keeps riders off the side of the road, but it prevents progressive engine damage, prolonging the life and health of your fleet and compounding your return on investment.
With fuel prices consistently at a high, route optimization and fuel efficiency tools must also be considered indispensable, as they can uncover hidden costs and identify the best ways to use fleet assets. Some solutions can even demonstrate the best threshold to input, based on what your individual operation identifies as unnecessary fuel burn—such as excessive idling and speeding.
Clear communication with dispatch is a must, and mobile app tracking is useful for operators when it comes to understanding the timing of routes. In pupil transportation, these technologies have even greater implications, offering parents much-desired transparency and allowing them to track their child’s bus ride as they would the delivery of a pizza. Districts can even use the back end to communicate clearly with parents, minimizing the number of inbound, concerned phone calls.
Prioritizes SaaS with Minimum Downtime
Cloud-based reporting and data access can be prone to unplanned downtime if providers aren’t diligent about keeping those disruptions to a minimum. A quality smart fleet management solution will integrate its software as a service (SaaS) solution with other line-of-business applications to prevent against interrupted service.
Deep SaaS integration will make your smart fleet management solution more likely to fit with your fleet’s existing applications, as well as more flexible when it comes to eventual expansion. When choosing a provider that integrates with other applications, look for one with a publicly available application programming interface (open API) and range of developer partners. This type of platform enables the provider’s customers and developer partners to access data such as engine diagnostics, maintenance data and other fleet information.
The needs of every fleet are different—a good smart fleet management platform provider understands this. The best providers tailor their solutions to adapt, enabling you to make timely, informed decisions based on data specific to your operation. After all, informed decisions have a higher return on investment than guesswork.
H. Kevin Mest is senior vice president and GM of passenger services, Zonar Systems. Visit www.zonarsystems.com for more information.