Globally, the supply chain is reliant on freight trucking to connect manufacturers and producers with consumers. This is the reason why the freight trucking industry is often referred to as the backbone of the U.S economy owing to the complementary shipping services that the industry provides. Their growth is attributable to the expanding eCommerce sector, together with the supply of food, clothing, and other necessities used in everyday life.
With this growth, the American Truck Association estimates that by 2028, the freight trucking industry’s volume will exceed 23.73 billion tons. Further, the industry’s worth is expected to hit USD 220.76 billion by 2021.
Technology Modernizing Fleet Management
The growth in the industry, however, breeds new challenges, particularly in fleet operation. These range from fluctuating fuel prices, shortage of truck drivers, limited capacity of trucks, and the ever-increasing trucking rates. These obstacles inhibit the effectiveness of the industry and its further growth.
To overcome them, the trucking industry has accommodated the use of technology for fleet management. Embracing technology in the management of fleet helps freight companies improve the efficiency of their everyday operations, thus minimizing costs, maximizing profits, and scale up operations.
How Fleet Management Technology works
Fleet management technology and ELDs allows companies to track data on every vehicle in their fleet, including their speed, temperature, fuel level, fuel consumption, geographical location, and route, among others. The manager can track the data in real-time, thus able to manage eventualities as soon as they occur.
More specifically, the manager will have a record of all vehicles in your organization in the fleet management software. The record will include its specifications, the driver assigned to it, the maintenance details, the histories of its service and parts, its compliance documents including tax, licenses, and insurance, and it’s operating expenses including fuel transactions.
By integrating the details of every truck in the system, including its GPS data, you can easily track all the activities related to a particular vehicle in your fleet. Incorporating GIS allows you to optimize the routes for your fleet, thus making it possible to determine the best route the vehicle should take, and thus enable you to know precisely when the vehicle will arrive at its destinations. The route dedication also helps you manage and respond to unforeseen eventualities quickly.
Key Fleet Management Features
A telematics device in the fleet management system is used to collect data used by the routing module. The system provides the manager with information on the location of every vehicle, the distance covered, and any other critical information.
The geofencing feature is particularly helpful in location management. The feature provides the fleet manager with a notification when a vehicle departs from its defined route or if it is operating when it is off-duty. This feature complements the route planning and optimization feature that allows you to predefine routes for your fleet based on the time required for delivery, fuel consumption, and vehicle capacity, among other variables.
With trucks consuming a lot of fuel to cover vast distances, a fuel management module comes in handy to ensure efficient fuel management for your fleet. The module monitors the fuel tank of every vehicle in the system and generates reports of the same. This helps minimize fuel expenses. Some of the key data the system collects include engine idling, fuel cards, and monitoring the fuel tank using the Engine Control Module – a module that aggregates data on the vehicle condition. Additionally, the fuel management module also collects fleet emissions data, which is helpful for carbon reporting and promoting eco-driving.
The vehicle maintenance module provides alerts for all diagnostic needs of the fleet. These include aggregating data on vehicle performance, Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports, maintenance alerts, and a record of the service history for all vehicles in the fleet.
Managing the behavior and effectiveness of truck drivers affects the overall efficiency of fleet operations. The fleet management system allows you to have a profile of all the drivers with up-to-date information, a behavior monitoring system, and E-logs for the drivers’ Hours of Service.
The shipment management module allows you to manage your workflow/deliveries efficiently. Some of the key capabilities of this module include scheduling and dispatching of deliveries, keeping track of all compliance documents for the deliveries, management of carrier rates and quotes, cost analysis, inventory management, etc. A unique feature in this module is the cargo optimization feature that enables you to use cargo space efficiently. This module is particularly helpful when scaling up operations.
Safety and Security Features
These features ensure that your vehicles and drivers make the delivered safely. The tool provides functions such as vehicle theft alerts, remote vehicle monitoring, and emergency roadside assistance. For instance, the remote control feature allows you to reduce the speed and manage some functions of vehicles remotely. The dashcam helps take videos and photos in case of an unexpected incident.
A myriad of features exists in this technology, with more innovations developed every so often. Increasingly, companies providing freight services are adopting technologies that provide customized solutions for their unique needs.
Mounting Investor Interest in Fleet Management
With the promising future of the trucking industry, complemented by the incorporation of technology in fleet management, there has been mounting interest by investors in the sector. This is evident from the increased investment and funding from Venture Capitalists and other Private Equity firms in the fleet management technology. Mostly they target small start-up with innovative solutions and strategies for improving business models in the sector and maximizing profits.
Most recently, Allos Ventures, together with Hearst Venture, Great Oaks Venture Capital, and Riverfront Ventures, injected $7 million into Maven Machines – a Fleet Management Software provider. The funds are aimed at scaling up Maven Machines’ operations across all departments with the goal of tripling the size of the firm by the end of 2020.
As long as the trucking business has a promising future, it is expected that the interest of investors will keep mounting, and more funds will be injected towards improving Fleet Management Technology. The expanding trucking industry also translates to more tech start-ups venturing into fleet management with more innovative solutions for the players in the industry.