A string of new technology-based features have been launched by Fleet Service Great Britain (FSGB) designed to save customers time and money in managing their company car and commercial vehicle operations and ensure legislative compliance.
FSGB launched in spring 2015 and, offering a comprehensive range of in-life vehicle management services underpinned by cutting-edge IT solutions and with a customer-centric focus, has expanded to currently manage almost 7,000 cars and commercial vehicles.
The latest IT initiatives, developed at the request of and in partnership with customers include: Event Scheduler, Bespoke Categorisation, Proactive Service, Maintenance and Repair and Rental Check Sheets (see details of each below).
FSGB head of sales Marcus Bray said: "FSGB's IT solutions come from working hand-in-hand with customers and listening to the issues and problems that they face on a daily basis. Using the experience and knowledge of our employees gained over many years of working in the fleet management sector we can identify, develop and deliver solutions.
"FSGB works on the frontline with customers - effectively as an extension of their own in-house fleet team. Very few companies listen to their customers and then deliver what is requested. FSGB is using technology to make life easier for clients."
He continued: "Fleet management continues to evolve with technological advances for managing vehicles, drivers and journeys, but ultimately success continues to be built on listening to clients.
"Businesses that lose touch with their customers and become disconnected, very soon lose those clients and that attitude is reflected by the contracts that FSGB continues to win."
While industry-leading technology is business-critical for FSGB, the unique co-ownership company also understands that it is simply a tool - the big ingredient being people.
Mr Bray concluded: "Companies that uncouple relationships and de-personalise service and rely on technology to do the fleet management job soon find out the error of their ways. FSGB will always be face-to-face and personal - but discussions with customers and the application of technology are powerful forces as demonstrated by FSGB's business success to date."
Event Scheduler provides customers with an online overview of 'planned events' - for example servicing and MoT scheduled dates, oil change and cam belt replacement - during the fleet life of any vehicle and associated spend. Developed in partnership with customer Stannah, the UK's leading independent supplier of lift products supplying goods as diverse as loading systems, service lifts, platform lifts, homelifts and stairlifts, the solution is designed to assist with reducing vehicle off-road time and aid vehicle disposal planning.
Vehicle off-road time is a huge cost burden for many fleets and Event Scheduler provides a graphic view of vehicles with intervals due by month and looks to forecast events based on time/mileage. When an event falls due within an agreed tolerance, future events are analysed to see if they can be merged into a single same-day 'job' based on the cost of work being undertaken early and a vehicle off road cost for customers.
The feature's dashboard view provides fleet operators with a scheduled vehicle disposal date, according to company policy. Built-in rule sets allow Event Scheduler to base 'planned events' around that date, which, for example, could be brought forward to avoid additional service or MoT costs or see a vehicle moved to a company's pool fleet replacing an existing vehicle on that fleet. The dashboard also highlights a summary of decisions made based on a disposal review and the system has the ability to reset a disposal date based on a review.
Martin Carter, Stannah's group information systems director, who manages the company's fleet of more than 700 company cars and vans, said: "We were looking for something that worked along the line of a master production schedule that showed all activities over a planning horizon. With Event Scheduler we can now plan six months ahead for vehicle disposal and replacement rather than respond to events and can group demand to reduce off road time. As a graphical representation, it's simple to use and we look forward to it developing further as we gain real world experience."
Sarah Clifford, FSGB's head of service delivery, said: "Event Scheduler is a great tool for customers to see at a glance an overview of their fleet's position. Alongside each vehicle is highlighted spend to date and projected spend to point of disposal. Such data can influence both replacement cycles and future fleet acquisition strategies."
FSGB is continuing to develop Event Scheduler with the addition of more known or projected events based on customer requirements analysis of fleet data, which, for example, include the regular collection of tyre tread depth readings to enable tyre replacement forecasts to be made.
Bespoke Categorisation enables FSGB customers to easily identify all vehicles that perform a certain operational function or have a customised feature. As a result, FSGB has created a series of standardised categories that are applied to every managed asset enabling customers to split out management information based on their own requirements. Current categories are: Body type, feature (e.g. 4x4 vehicle, vehicle with tail lift etc), fleet type (pool vehicle, hire vehicle, 'grey fleet' vehicle etc), number of seats and vehicle type (car derived van, pickup van, utility vehicle etc). Additionally, customers have the ability to create further categories bespoke to individual requirements. The feature is now being rolled out to each client with many already utilising the tool to personalise asset data.
Proactive Service, Maintenance and Repair (SMR) is designed to assist customers and their company car and commercial vehicle drivers in complying with critically important manufacturer service schedules and MoT demands. Proactive SMR is an enhancement that uses FSGB's vehicle management system's 'due item' data to alert drivers as early as possible. The feature identifies a forthcoming service, MoT or additional inspection based on time or mileage and starts the pre-booking set up. A job will be initiated and where FSGB records identify a vehicle's driver - a separate tool assists clients in keeping vehicle/driver allocations accurate - an SMS, email and other notifications are sent via FSGB's cutting-edge Driver App. A driver's depot/line manager is also alerted to the requirement as a defined stage within the process.
Ms Clifford said: "FSGB has the capability to customise how far in advance the Proactive SMR process is started; how frequently reminders are sent; and if, and at what point, cost centre managers are involved not only customer-by-customer but item-by-item.
"Should we not receive contact from a driver within a defined period prior to due date FSGB's system alerts the team and tasks us to make contact with the driver via telephone. The process assists both FSGB and customers in terms of compliance with legislation and with the correct preventative maintenance recommendations for their fleet."
Rental Check Sheets is an enhancement to FSGB's Driver App which will enable the completion of a check sheet for any vehicle hired to a driver. The key objectives are:
- To alert a driver that a Rental Check Sheet requires completion at the start and end of a booking
- The Rental Check Sheet to provide key information as well as querying vehicle condition
- The Rental Check Sheet to be stored against the rental reservation - but also stored against the driver should a rental have been arranged outside of the FSGB system.
Ms Clifford said: "Vehicle damage charges at the end of a rental are often very contentious and many customers are on the receiving end at the conclusion of a rental period as well as facing costs related to refueling and other ad-hoc charges.
"The aim with the development of Rental Check Sheets is to alert a driver via the Driver App prior to the rental reservation to complete a vehicle check to identify any existing damage and note the vehicle condition on delivery or as soon as possible subsequently.
"Frequently drivers are not always available to walk around the vehicle at point of delivery and so the aim is to ensure that when they do pick up the keys that they record any damage, taking images using the built in image upload feature and check for any mechanical issues.
It is also an opportunity for FSGB to remind drivers to note the level of fuel that the vehicle was delivered with and draw their attention to key information relevant to the rental booking. That includes taking responsibility for the payment of any road and bridge tolls or London Congestion Charge and ensuring the vehicle is available for collection at an appropriate location.
"At the point of termination the Driver App will also alert drivers to complete an end of hire check. Capturing any change in vehicle condition and prompting them to ensure that the vehicle is refueled etc. will minimise fleets' exposure to end of rental charges."