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Mileage is an important an item to track and although recent reductions in fuels costs are welcome, mileage is still a significant cost that directly affects the bottom line of a business, Also, today’s HMRC regulations for mileage are tougher than ever, and so it’s important to choose a system that can capture mileage effectively.
Having some sort of route planning software in place also helps as users can forward plan mileage costs, as well as plan optimal routes that minimise mileage whilst ensuring all location constraints are met (delivery times windows, vehicle size, etc.).
Online mileage capture is offered by any number of independent providers, including leasing and fuel card companies. The driver goes online and logs into the system, where they then verify details about their vehicle, as well as the reason for the trips they made and any postcodes associated with those destinations. Drivers can also record their vehicle’s odometer reading. The fees for online systems can be charged in flat or monthly amounts.
Whilst online systems are far superior to manual methods, the fact remains that drivers do have to manually enter in information, and this can be prone to error through forgetfulness.
The most basic way to record mileage information, the handwritten logbook remains in use today, even with the availability of electronic mileage monitoring methods. The driver writes in the information about their journey, which is later passed onto others to review and calculate. Whilst it may be old-fashioned, this approach is still preferred by many companies, as it is the most cost-effective and basic option for dedicated mileage capture.
Of course, inaccuracy is a great risk of this particular method. As well, the logbook may not offer drivers enough space with which to record in detail. It is also not possible to take information directly from a logbook and create a report, as is possible with many electronic methods.
Another offline method is the spreadsheet. Although more sophisticated method than the logbook, the spreadsheet is still an offline method, although it is an electronic one. But this method also has its disadvantages, because the larger a fleet becomes, the more time-consuming it is to keep all of the spreadsheets current.
Expense System Entry
Some companies have a system whereby drivers can enter information about their travels directly into the expense system used by their company. This certainly is more convenient, as the information requires placement only one time. As well, the fact that’s its electronic only adds to its convenience, eliminating admin frustration.
Entering mileage in this way doesn’t allow reports to be run directly, however. As well, mileage data can prove difficult to extract from the other data contained within the system.
Automated Mileage Data Capture Solution
A system designed for automated mileage capture is similar to a telematics system in that it reads the odometer automatically collating the mileage whilst also recording the location via a GPS fix (which enables the software to recognise the customer site). Some systems will also automatically compare this to the planned route (provided by the route optimisation software) for planned versus actual analysis. Such functionality is very useful for companies as it enables instant cost analysis.
Some companies view the integrated systems as cost prohibitive. However, in many cases the administration savings made far outweigh the initial software costs. And the ease at which management data relating to direct costs can be made available to decision makers must not be forgotten.
Which to Choose?
At the end of the day, the right mileage capture system is the one that meets the needs of the company, whilst also providing a discernible return on investment.