Collecting the right fleet data…
From vehicle expenses to financial details about external services, parts and suppliers, there’s a huge range of fleet information you could be collecting but what do you actually need?
Advances in technology mean it’s likely that there is more data available about your fleet and assets than ever before. If you’re able to gather and analyse this fleet data effectively, it can be an incredibly useful tool. Having thorough knowledge of your assets will help you make the best, informed decisions to support a wide range of operational improvements.
Fleets using richer, bigger data more frequently will drive improvements in areas of compliance and road safety, according to the Association for Driving Licence Verification (ADLV).
How data management helps fleets
To start, let’s look at why fleet-related data management is so useful to help you run an efficient operation.
Gathering appropriate information and analysing it for benchmarking and improvement purposes is an incredibly useful practice that can help you build a constructive understanding of how your vehicles, equipment, other assets and employees operate. It can also help you identify inefficiencies and support better operational decisions in areas such as:
Better vehicle utilisation:
Accurate, real-time knowledge of what vehicles you have in your fleet (and how they are being allocated, used and disposed of) can help you ensure ongoing utilisation improvements
Improved driver oversight and profiling:
Information about your drivers can help you create training and risk profiles, for example, to help reduce accidents and insurance premiums
Enhanced parts management:
Knowledge of your parts and stock availability can help you eliminate overstock situations, increase staff/workshop productivity and reduce downtime
Reduced fuel comsumption and emissions:
Details of fuel costs, purchases and consumption and emissions can be useful when it comes to analysing performances and ensuring compliance with legislative and other requirements
Maintenance and repair activities:
Details such as repair times and workshop productivity can help you assess how well your maintenance and repair operations are being run – and where improvements could be made. A well-run maintenance department can provide many benefits including reduced costs and downtime
And much, much more.
What fleet data do I need?
There is a huge range of fleet-related information that could prove useful for you, and it’s likely to be generated both internally to your organisation (for example, via job cards and work rotas) as well as externally (e.g., from GPS or telematics systems). But chances are you don’t need everything that’s available. Trying to capture every bit of information you can but be inefficient and unnecessary.
The following table demonstrates some of elements of data you may need to collect for different areas when managing your fleet:
|Category||Area to be managed||Items to be considered …|
|Vehicles:||Selection||Vehicle make, model, capacity, fuel type, taxes and duties, engine type/transmission, taxes and incentives, driver requests, ‘extras’ eg alloy wheels or upgraded interiors, organisational policy, organisational image, incentives/charges|
|Ordering||Daily rentals/leasing/purchase, suppliers, warranties, volume related bonuses/specific support|
|Allocation||Staff grades, staff contracts, salary sacrifice, grey fleet, expected vehicle usage, mileage|
|Utilisation||Routes and areas of operation, telematics data, odometer readings, car sharing, car pooling, roadside/breakdown options|
|Disposal||Reallocation, depreciation, sales channels|
|Emissions||MPG, idling, legislation, incentives (current and future)|
|Finance:||Budgets, expenses, invoicing, purchase orders, payment methods, overheads, fees|
|Fuel:||Purchasing/costs||Fuel prices, fuel transactions, purchase options (eg fuel cards, bunkering) currency fluctuations, exchange rates|
|Consumption||Real-world MPG performance, claimed MPG performance, driver behaviour, fuel fraud|
|Maintenance:||Safety & Compliance||Defects, auditing, alerts, daily checks, fault codes, warranties|
|Productivity||Rosters, job cards, schedules|
|Stock and parts||Availability, right sizing, procurement, ordering, invoicing, delivery, allocation, warranties|
|Drivers and operators||Misconduct||Unauthorised vehicle use, fuel fraud, speeding, mobile use, other driving offenses|
|Driver behaviour and risk||Driver health, driver history, driving style and performance (eg hard braking/acceleration, idling) mileage, offenses, training and qualifications, driver licences|
|Accidents and incidents||Vehicle condition, maintenance, vehicle history, claims documents, 3rd party contractual information, legal fees, insurance, replacement vehicle options (eg courtesy cars), repair options|
|Fines||Parking penalties, tolls…|
Overloaded and overwhelmed: A common problem
Ultimately if your operation doesn’t understand and have solid control of its data, you’ll find that work is made harder – with consequences potentially including stressed staff, costly mistakes and unnecessary spending.
However as you can see there’s a huge variety of things to consider: In fact, the massive volume of information available can sometimes make it feel like you are sifting through virtual mountains of details.
Recent research shows that four out of five business decision-makers have carried out tasks outside of working hours in order to catch up on their workload – with 88% saying that administration tasks cause them unnecessary stress.
One important fact to consider is that just because you have a lot of data at your disposal, it doesn’t mean that you have to assess it all. Some items may simply not be relevant to help you meet your goals.
Gathering useful fleet data
When it comes to gathering useful data that could be used to help manage your fleet, here’s three important steps to consider:
1. Assess what data you have available: Fleet data could be held in spreadsheets or existing fleet management systems. It could also be available via software systems such as your GPS or telematics, fueling systems, accounting finance software or service, parts or account providers. You could even be able to use information from vehicle specifications databases or databases containing information on licences.
It’s important to make sure that all your existing data is being used effectively – and the first step to achieving this is gaining full awareness of what data you have available and how to find it quickly and easily.
2. Determine how your fleet data can help improve your operation: When it comes to understanding what data could be useful for you, our recommendation is that it’s probably best to start with your central needs (the actual areas where effective data management can be crucial for your business).
One useful strategy is to identify your problem points and then work to fix them: Asking yourself questions such as “What are my fleet’s highest cost categories?” and “Which vehicles, systems or components are utilised most?” can help you identify areas that require focus. Then, consider what data could be beneficial when used for benchmarking and improvement.
For example, if your fuel costs are causing you concern, the ability to gather and analyse telematics data could help you identify drivers with a tendancy for hard braking, acceleration or speeding. The ability to act on and monitor such behaviour could help you reap significant rewards.
Our own data, for example, shows that the difference between the best and worse drivers can mean 25% variance in fleet costs.
3. Bring your relevant data together: Time is money – so it’s important to have quick access to your data and be able to interpret it quickly. Instead of using a system that requires you to look around for the data you need – for example, a series of spreadsheets or paper-based filing systems – opt for a system that enables you to easily access all your data from a single location, and create instant comparisons and reports that boost your understanding of what is happening in your fleet, and what could be improved.
Following this process will provide you with a solid start in understanding what data you have, what data you need and how it could be used to support positive changes.