Fleet management is the process of organizing, tracking and maintaining a vehicle fleet, using a fleet management system (FMS). Typically, these commercial fleets will consist of cars, trucks and vans. Fleet management can also help businesses care for drivers' health and safety, and make sure that they're obeying the law.
A fleet management system will normally have a hardware element — such as GPS trackers fitted to the vehicles — and a software element. The software element allows drivers to keep their records up to date, and gives bosses an easy way to see, at a glance, where their fleet is and how well they're performing. Fleet management systems can also be used to dispatch drivers, provide routing and traffic information, monitor fuel, and much more.
If your business uses a fleet of vehicles, it's well worth investing in a service — especially now the ELD Mandate has come into force. If you'd like to get an idea of the costs involved, you can get no obligation quotes from the top fleet management system providers using our simple fleet management quotes form.
What is a Fleet Management System?
A fleet management system is a bundled combination of hardware and software that includes three elements:
- The Fleet Management Software device. Hardware sensors and an interface are installed or plugged into every vehicle in the fleet
- The vehicle software. This collects data like engine status and vehicle location from each vehicle
- The management interface software. Software that the fleet manager uses to receive and interpret data from all the vehicles.
Different fleet management software record different data. Those with sensors installed into a vehicle’s engine will receive more comprehensive data about the engine status than plug-and-go dashboard devices.
Some operations do only or mostly “less than truckload” (LTL) shipping, meaning that a single truck is delivering goods to multiple clients. These fleets should look for LTL-friendly fleet management software, which includes a specialized load optimization service not offered by TL-oriented fleet management software.
The best fleet management software come with active data trackers rather passive ones. This means the data sent by an fleet management system might refresh as often as every few seconds or as rarely as every ten minutes. A passive tracker collects data on the go but only transfers it to the software later. Near-real-time data updates are essential for a truly effective fleet management software, so fleet managers can react quickly to important updates, such as late deliveries, or vehicle faults. Some fleet management software may even be operated using smartphone apps, making it even easier for managers to respond to situations.
Advanced fleet management solutions may also offer accessories such as in-cab driver coaching devices.
Fleet Management Video Guide
For a better understanding of how a fleet management system can transform a business, it's helpful to look towards a case study.
Verizon Connect is one of the top fleet management providers around – click the video for a closer look at how this system can work.
Why Use Fleet Management?
There are plenty of benefits to using a fleet management system. It can reduce costs and risks while also helping you improve efficiency.
It's also the law. The ELD Mandate made it essential for businesses to track their drivers' working hours using some sort of electronic logging device — a fleet management system will help you do this.
A good fleet management system will also help you with:
- Dispatch management — route planning and communication with drivers
- Tracking and diagnostics — live data on vehicle location and status
- Fuel management — data on how quickly fuel is used
- Vehicle maintenance — customizable maintenance alerts can be set
- Financing — data on the wear and tear vehicles undergo
- Health management — data on the duration of drivers’ work hours and breaks
- Safety management — data on vehicles’ driving and cornering speed can identify high-risk drivers
A typical fleet management system collects this data while plugged into or installed in a vehicle’s dashboard. It then sends the data via a GPS to a fleet manager’s central hub.
How Much Does Fleet Management Cost?
There is no standard price for a Fleet Management System as they are tailored to each business’ requirements, with several cost-influencing variations. The size of the fleet which needs tracking, and the categories of data you want to track are the main price-influencing factors. Some fleet management software providers may include a one-time installation fee as a separate charge.
Another financial component that can be hidden if a fleet manager doesn’t know to ask about it, is a subscription fee. A monthly fleet management software subscription is common, as a fleet management software company’s maintenance and tech support costs are ongoing. However, the quotes these companies offer may not make it clear that they’ll expect an ongoing fee in addition to their quote for the hardware and software itself.
Fleets that lease their vehicles rather than own them may want to opt for a pluggable fleet management system rather than upgrade motor vehicles that they don’t own, for long-term cost effectiveness.
Your best option when combing through the varying costs of fleet management software is getting price quotes from a range of fleet management software companies, all tailored to your operation. Tell Tech.co what you’re looking for and we can do this for you for free. Our simple form takes less than thirty seconds and can put you in touch with the best deals offered by a range of industry-leading suppliers who match your needs. And using Tech.co’s price comparison tool puts you under no obligation to buy.
Read More: Fleet Management Cost Guide
Fleet Management Benefits
Sure, you know that fleet management systems are designed to streamline the management of a fleet. But here are the main reasons businesses rely on them, broken down into their component parts.
This is a huge benefit, as any fleet management software offering full telemetrics will provide more than one way to save money:
- Fuel economy — Fuel expenses are a major chunk of a fleet’s daily budget, and fleet management software reports can help to reduce these by as much as 30%.
- Fewer harsh braking incidents — Harsh braking can be tracked by most fleet management systems, letting fleet managers identify the drivers at fault and prevent any wear and tear in the future.
- Less engine idling time — If the engine status is active but the vehicle is at rest, the fleet management software will know the engine is idling. The fleet manager can discuss excessive and frequent idling with their drivers to reduce future wasted time.
- Reduced overtime — Similarly, overtime hours are tracked by fleet management software, ensuring fleet managers will be able to address a situation in real-time rather than learning about a driver’s overtime hours after the fact.
- Better efficiency — Location tracking means that any wayward vehicles can be course-corrected faster, saving time and money. Also, over time the quickest routes can be identified by the system's reports, for future efficiency increases.
A fleet management system will also make your business compliant with the ELD mandate. Since December 2017, it's been the law in the US that businesses using commercial vehicles must track drivers' work hours with an electronic logging device.
This might seem like the government is forcing your business to invest in a service it might not actually need. However, if you get a good fleet management system, your business will likely save money as you'll be able to run your business more efficiently.
Getting an ELD-compliant fleet management system isn't just a good idea, then. It's the law.
Finally, a fleet management software benefits a fleet operation through a few measures that may not result in immediate savings, but can prevent potential catastrophes down the (metaphorical) road.
- Anti-theft — Sure, managers can purchase separate anti-theft trackers, but if a fleet management software is on board, it will track a vehicle’s location at no extra charge.
- Vehicular control — Some fleet management systems don’t merely track data, but are given a measure of control over the engine, allowing managers to remotely limit speeds or slow and stop vehicles when necessary, preventing mistakes or collisions.
Fleet Management Best Practice
As with any management software, fleet management software opens fleet managers up to a few vulnerabilities if not used responsibly. Here are the downsides to fleet management systems that you should be aware of.
Don’t Intrude on Privacy
A fleet management software isn’t exactly designed to respect a vehicle drivers’ privacy. It records their speeding habits, their location, and how quickly they take a 90-degree turn, after all. This is perfectly legal during working hours, though employees should be made aware of what’s being tracked and why. However, if a fleet operator’s vehicles are ever used privately by employees, the operator should take care to disable the fleet management software for these trips.
Manage Drivers’ Expectations
Speaking of privacy, drivers in a fleet may be upset at switching to a fleet management software and away from a passive GPS tracker or a paper logging system. Having their driving habits and overtime tracked may make them uncomfortable. The best approach to introducing a fleet management system is transparency and open communication. Depending on the fleet management software provider, driver training courses may be provided to ease them into the new process.
Some businesses also choose to alleviate any negative feelings employees might have around tracking by providing rewards based on the new data. For example by offering bonuses to the most fuel-efficient drivers or those with the lowest records of harsh braking. These awards can be allocated easily using the driver scorecard reports offered by many fleet management systems.
The typical lowest starting price. The lowest price available for your business will depend on your needs.
Who is this provider most suitable for?
Free Trial or Demo
US Fleet Tracking
Pricing not available
Pricing not available
Best for the transportation industry
Best for data-hungry companies
Best low cost option
Best value solution
Best mid-range option
Best for reliability
Best for location tracking only
Best for customizable route planning
Best for ease of use
Free online demo
30-day free trial; hardware and software
Free online demo
14-day free trial
Free online demo
Free live demo
Verizon Connect is one of the top fleet management companies you can choose. Its system is easy to use, and simple to get your head around. Verizon Connect also has loads of features including engine diagnostics, and fuel efficiency monitoring. What's more, it has best-in-class customer support.
- Granular functionality for alerts
- Good 24/7 customer service
- Highly personalizable dashboards
- Can be integrated with many other Verizon Connect services
- Long contract periods
- Expensive compared to similar services
- Learning curve can be steep
Samsara is a relatively new fleet management company, having only been set up in 2015. However, it offers a very complete fleet management service with all the core features — driver safety, fuel tracking, routing and dispatch, for example — while also benefitting from a simple installation process and strong support options. Samsara also has strong customer support and employee training options, making it ideal for growing companies.
- Easy learning curve
- Best driver messaging features
- Strong 24/7 support options
- Contracts are 3-5 years long
- Must install system yourself
- No option for hardwired units
Telectrac Navman is one of the biggest fleet management companies in the world, with service coverage extending to the US, Canada, and Mexico along with the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Teletrac Navman's fleet management sustem offers GPS vehicle tracking, two-way messaging, safety alerts, and in-depth vehicle diagnostics at very reasonable rates.
- Highly customizable report data
- Instant video replay, if dash cams are integrated
- Good 24/7 customer service
- Features are more limited under cheaper plans
- 30-day notice needed to prevent annual contract autorenewal
- No engine temperature monitoring option
US Fleet Tracking
US Fleet Tracking doesn't offer a full fleet management system. Instead, the company focusses on selling GPS trackers for vehicles. This means you don't get as many features with one of US Fleet Tracking's services, but it can be a good value option. For example, you won't be able to monitor fuel efficiency, but you'll be able to see where every vehicle in your fleet is in real time. You'll also be able to review fleet movements, and it's ELD compliant.
- Fast GPS data
- Easy to use
- Historical data
- Limited features
- Not a full FMS
Fleetio is a software-only company, meaning that drivers and fleet managers use apps for communication and tracking. This makes Fleetio cheaper than much of its competition — although without a hardware component, it isn't ELD compliant. Despite it being software-only, Fleetio has a decent range of features. For example, you can set up driver scheduling, and keep an eye on vehicle maintenance. If you're after ELD compliance with Fleetio, you can install a tracker from one of its hardware partners.
- Intuitive interface
- Limited functionality
- Not ELD compatible
Get Started with Fleet Management Today
If you want to improve the management of your commercial fleet, a fleet management system is a great place to start — whether you're running a business with five pizza delivery vehicles, or thousands of semis. You'll be more efficient with planning driver routes, managing the upkeep of your vehicles, and monitoring driver workloads. What's more, your business will be fully compliant with the ELD mandate.
So if you're looking to get started with a fleet management system, you can get quotes from the leading providers quickly and easily by filling out our free online form.
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