Why businesses need to understand their fleet data.

By Masternaut.

Understanding how your business works is one of the critical elements to building a successful business, regardless of the industry you work in.

Running a business requires you to operate in a variety of different areas and deal with a vast number of challenges. Being able to make use of the tools available to you, which help you run your business, is vital. One of the most important tools all business owners have at their disposal in today’s world is data. 

There are hardly any aspects of modern businesses which do not produce some form of data. Some businesses will produce more data than others, but it is all important. Having access to this data, and then being able to understand it is equally important, as this can give you a greater insight into multiple areas of your business, and where you may find improvement. 

If we look at a business which runs a commercial fleet, there are several key areas where data is produced and can be analysed. By doing this, those who own and run the business can gain a better and more detailed understanding of their fleet. In this article, we are going to look at three key areas where businesses who operate a commercial fleet must understand the data being produced. 

Fuel usage 

Any business which operates a commercial fleet will understand that fuel usage is a crucial concern for a variety of reasons. It is more important than ever that businesses are aware of their environmental impact and are taking steps to reduce that impact. For businesses with a large commercial fleet, there is a very clear area where their environmental impact can be improved, and that is in the amount of fuel they use. This is also important to businesses due to the cost impact of fuel. As fuel is a necessity for businesses who operate a commercial fleet, the cost is unavoidable and out of the control of businesses as they are subject to the price fluctuating. 

So, how can fleet tracking data help businesses when it comes to fuel usage? When taking the time to analyse fuel usage data, which is produced by each vehicle within a fleet, fleet managers will be able to see several different things. Firstly, there will be drivers who use more fuel than others. What is important is to understand why this is. There could be a simple answer, such as some vehicles have travelled further one day than others, however, there can be more complicated answers. 

Driving style can play a large factor in the amount of fuel a vehicle will use. By installing vehicle tracking technology, not only can fleet managers see how much fuel each vehicle is using, and how far they are going but also the way the vehicle is being driven. By analysing this data, a better picture can be generated to understand fuel usage and where it can be improved. This could be simply highlighting the fact to them that a driver is using more fuel than necessary or developing a training program to help encourage and teach driving techniques which reduce fuel usage, such as limiting engine idling. 

By having access to and understanding this data, companies who operate a commercial fleet could see significant savings in their fuel costs, along with a reduced environmental impact, both of which are highly beneficial. 

Route planning 

Another aspect which plays into fuel-saving and several other key areas are the routes commercial vehicles take each day. Route planning is an area which can be heavily influenced by data analysis and bring about tangible benefits. By recording the live location of vehicles within a fleet, businesses can analyse the routes they have taken. Depending on how long vehicles have been equipped with tracking technology, this analysis can look at a specific period or the entire history of the tracking data. 

This allows fleet managers to identify areas where vehicles have come across problems such as congestion. They can then alter the routes their drivers take to improve efficiency and productivity, which can benefit both the business and their clients. If we look at a delivery company, for example, who may be operating a large commercial fleet, having the most time-efficient routes planned each day will allow their drivers to get to clients quicker and serve more clients each day. This improves customer satisfaction and also enables the business to take on more orders and deliver them quickly. 

The other benefit of having access to live location data is that fleet managers can always see exactly where the vehicles within a fleet are. For service companies who may have to respond to a job urgently, this can be invaluable. Rather than speaking with multiple drivers to find out where they are and if they could attend an urgent callout, a fleet manager can quickly look at a map and find the vehicle closest to the issues. The schedule for the day can then be adjusted to fit this new task in, and problems can be sorted out sooner. 

Driver safety 

Keeping drivers safe when carrying out their work should be a priority for any company operating a commercial fleet. While it may seem challenging to do as they are out on the road all day, through the use of technology, it is possible. Systems have been developed to allow fleet managers to track the driving behaviour of those in their fleet. In-cab coaching devices not only track driving actions which could be dangerous, such as harsh acceleration and braking, but also alert drivers to these actions in real-time. 

A study has shown that by alerting drivers to these actions, they are significantly reduced when compared to drivers who are not being alerted. Furthermore, as with fuel usage, fleet managers have access to the data produced by these devices. By analysing the data produced, they can identify drivers who may have a higher-than-normal number of these dangerous actions. Fleet managers can then develop training programs to help these drivers and improve their safety. 

This not only improves the safety of drivers working for the business but also that of all road users. Commercial vehicles can often be very large and if they are involved in an accident, either on their own or with other vehicles on the road, the outcome can be disastrous. 

Overall, the importance of data to businesses who are involved with fleet management is significant. By using the data produced by their vehicles, businesses can make meaningful changes which benefit a variety of people. Data analysis can also help them understand their business in ways which may not have been possible otherwise. 

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