What is Fleet Management?

Written by Integrated Skills

Sep 8, 2014

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fleet management

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In its widest possible sense the term “fleet management” refers to any organisations commercial vehicle fleet, which also includes ships and aircraft. The term commercial vehicle applies to cars, vans or trucks, as well as combinations thereof. In the 21st century it is unthinkable that a commercial vehicle fleet would not operate with some kind of delivery route planning software, irrespective of the organisations core business. In transportation and logistics, fleet management is concerned with reducing the financial burden of maintaining and using the vehicles. Fleet management is a huge industry in its own right. As of 2014 it is estimated that there are over four million commercial road vehicles in Europe alone. All of these vehicles must comply with EU-wide legislation ranging from emissions standards to speed limits, whilst businesses themselves are seeking to remain as competitive as possible. One method by which this competitive edge is maintained is by investing in appropriate vehicle routing software.
Fleet vehicle tracking systems
Effective delivery route planning and organisation is arguably the most important component of any fleet management regime. The GPS components and all other data streams are fed directly into the fleet management software. In scenarios where delivery is to many destinations it may be necessary to have specific multi-drop route planning software installed, which may additionally require a satellite link up if any of the delivery points are in geographically remote locations. The whole point is that both drivers and operators can respond to externalities and events as they occur. The software itself must be able to provide as a minimum, a detailed picture of the location of all vehicles that are in operation at any given time. Any fleet management system is in essence an information gathering and processing system. Therefore, the more vehicles an organisation has, the more advanced their vehicle route planning software needs to be. The framework is such that the system needs to accommodate every conceivable process pertaining to the vehicles.
Warehouse operations
All route planning software must accommodate time spent in yards, depots and warehouses. Management of the resources contained within these facilities is just as important as ensuring that the delivery vehicle arrives on time. All operations, such as loading, unloading and order picking must be coordinated to the arrival and departure of scheduled vehicles. This means making sure that empty vehicles can be adequately loaded, and delivery vehicles unloaded with the minimum of turnaround time. Flexibility can be brought about in multi-drop route planning software because either yard operations can be reorganised or the vehicle itself be directed to an alternative depot or distribution centre. The technology employed by the logistics company should be able to exceed the theoretical maximum number of loading and unloading operations to prevent a backlog within its network.
Fleet management is concerned with establishing the optimum balance between resources allocated to a delivery and those allocated to transportation. This is known as capacity planning and takes into account variables such as seasonality and the variations in demand for different goods it causes.  Vehicle route planning needs precisely to evaluate the number of vehicles required and configure these numbers with the warehouse operations mentioned above. A fully integrated fleet management system ensures that all operational parameters function well within the constraints of the day to day business operations.

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