8 helpful tips for essential services fleet operators in uncertain times

V3 Smart Technologies Pte Ltd.

For fleet operators who are transporting essential goods or services on the road, navigating the new challenges following Covid-19 can be daunting, especially when times are so uncertain.

We are seeing a surge in online shopping which adds pressure to delivery services. Schedule changes are more erratic, while strict hygiene measures need to be taken seriously. As a result, fleet managers need to minimise vehicle downtime so there is no delay in services. Additionally, they should monitor reckless driving behaviour, seeing as speeding may occur when drivers rush to meet tight schedules.

In times like these, fleet telematics play an important role by making sure your fleet is always ready to go, your costs are within budget, and your drivers’ performance and safety still maintain priority. Below are some tips on how you can sustainably manage your fleet with the help of fleet telematics and precautionary measures.

1. Protect your drivers’ health

Even if your drivers’ trip schedules are packed back-to-back, they should not forget to practice good hygiene by using masks and hand sanitisers, and getting a clean change of clothes after long shift hours.

Have drivers avoid unnecessary travel and check that they are given proper breaks to rest so they will not be overtired and be more susceptible to road accidents or falling sick. Sanitizing your vehicles, in high-contact areas such as the steering wheel, dashboard and seats, should be done after every shift or when switching drivers.

2. Keep communication open

The world is chaotic enough with Covid-19, so having clear communications within your team and with your customers is even more crucial right now. Fleet managers should actively stay in touch with drivers as traveling protocols and work orders can change on the fly during the pandemic.

Fleet management technology such as location-based tracking can be used to give your customers an accurate estimated time of arrival. Additionally, using a centralised communications platform will make things significantly easier for your back-end staff and drivers.

3. Digitalise your documents

With the need to budget manpower and resources despite increasing customer demands, the key to maintaining productivity begins with digitalisation and automation of tasks. The future of business operations can no longer rely on managing tasks on paper.

Instead, fleet managers should look to digitalising work or delivery order forms using task management software, which will enable task completion at much faster rates with minimal inaccuracies. Not only does this increase work productivity, you can also remotely monitor task completion, thereby enabling safe distancing through decreased face-to-face meetings.

4. Improve fleet visibility

Using GPS location tracking technology, you can easily track your drivers’ location, where they are heading next, and respond to unprecedented changes without wasted time. This offers visibility into your fleet operations, helps to check if drivers will be on time, and lets you monitor driving hours so you can balance workloads for drivers on busy days.

5. Plan the most efficient routes

Efficient route planning can help fleet managers achieve better fuel savings and prevent missed appointments. With fleet management software, you can easily plan routes based on live traffic updates and find the fastest available routes to reach a destination. It lets you set pre-defined geofence zones and routes, and will alert you if drivers are taking unauthorised detours.

6. Be proactive about maintenance

Whether your scheduled trips have increased or decreased due to the pandemic, fleet maintenance should remain a priority. This is so you can be sure your fleet will function without trouble once business starts resuming back to normal post-Covid-19.

Fleet managers can make use of automated vehicle maintenance reminders in fleet management software so they do not have to manually keep track of important servicing due dates. Through preventive maintenance measures, you can avoid unnecessary repair costs down the road and not have to worry about sudden vehicle downtime due to breakdowns.

7. Monitor driving behaviour and fleet performance

No matter how short on time your drivers are, road safety should still be prioritised. During the pandemic, the last thing any fleet manager will want to deal with is insurance and repair costs in addition to endangering their workforce and creating vehicle downtime.

Fortunately, with the help of IoT sensors, you can track reckless driving behaviour such as speeding and aggressive braking on the road. Besides monitoring driving behaviour to improve driver safety, the use of fleet telematics can also be extended to fleet performance charts which are highly useful for informed decision making during uncertain times.

8. Manage your fleet inventory carefully

With Covid-19 affecting manufacturers of cars and car parts, vehicle prices are now on the rise. To avoid purchasing new vehicles, fleet operators should seek to extend vehicle lease agreements where possible. Use your surplus vehicles before ordering new ones, and check if fleet management companies (FMCs) have temporary lease vehicles.

If you are considering a long-term lease, remember to evaluate carefully before committing. Overall, you will want to budget vehicle upkeep but still ensure your fleet is ready to operate with minimal downtime post-Covid-19.

In recent times, Covid-19 has brought about challenges such as reduced manpower, unprecedented schedule changes, new hygiene protocols, high customer demands and the need to regulate fleet costs. However, with properly thought-out strategies and technology as an aid, fleet operators can continue to sustain and even improve their fleet performance.

Our team is experienced in the field of developing workforce and fleet management technologies. We have seen its importance during Covid-19 and recognise how such technologies will remain critical post pandemic. Because we understand this, we want to help fleet operators navigate the uncertain times ahead confidently.

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