The pandemic underscored the importance of commercial vehicle fleets, amid mobility restrictions and limited supplies of essentials. It also highlighted the need for technology solutions to manage goods movement efficiently. Fortune Business Insights says global fleet management software market will grow 3.7X between 2022 and 2029, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.3%. Fleet-tech is no more about achieving efficiency alone, but leveraging the power of Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
At the core of commercial fleets are the drivers, their “khalaasis” (navigators), the fleet managers and fleet owners. Drivers work day and night covering treacherous routes facing dangerous threats such as hijack attempts. But for a vehicle equipped with the right fleet -tech, the story is completely different.
Developed markets are already reaping the benefits of fleet tech built on intuitive, next-gen technologies, while emerging markets are still slow to unlock this opportunity because they see the combination of “device-data-dashboard” as an additional cost. How do we help them see it as a long-term investment?
Better bottom lines in a competitive landscape:
Emerging nations still depend on rudimentary fleet management methods. Further, access to modern technology is limited owing to prohibitive pricing of new-age products built in developed markets that demand premium hardware for the high-end software, coupled with data/network issues. Add to that fluctuating fuel costs and fewer drivers. However, fleet technology offers ways to not protect the bottom line and improve it.
For instance, AI-powered fleet management solutions empower managers to automate administrative tasks and eliminate human error, enabling accurate insight into the business. Commercial vehicles are a significant investment for every fleet owner.
At a very basic level, fleet-tech helps continuously protect this vital asset from theft by giving consistent visibility of the vehicle’s location and helping in recovery if stolen. And with the right IoT device, fleet managers can even immobilize the vehicle remotely when parked. Underutilization of the commercial vehicle is like leaving money on the table, and latest fleet management technologies help optimize routes and schedules, enabling owners and managers to re-allocate resources quickly to fully utilize their capacity.
Gaining complete real-time visibility into operations allows fleet operators to mitigate the influence of outside disruptions and maximize cost-saving potential. A case in point is the logistics arm of a food and beverage firm that has been able to save ₹400,000 per annum per vehicle for a fleet size of 170 vehicles, just by smartly using fleet tech – that is almost ₹7 crore a year.
Safeguarding the driver community:
Fleet safety is important for the health of the business and that of the entire ecosystem within which it operates. Given the nature of the industry, vehicle assets, and drivers themselves are at an inherent risk. Modern devices and software provision for the safety of the assets and the lives of drivers by helping them manage complex situations like sudden natural disasters, unpredictable weather and road conditions, forward collisions, vehicle or cargo hijacking attempts.
Putting safety at the core saves lives and helps businesses drive greater efficiency. Visibility integrated with advanced telematics creates a complete profile of a driver’s activity. Managers can harness these metrics to issue alerts, warnings, resolve problems, allocate or reallocate resources quickly in real time. Data is stored and accessible on a single platform enabling managers to flag missteps and coach drivers in safer on-road practices. Leading with technology to make fleets safer also solves for rising insurance premiums and driver attrition issues. Solutions such as document management system, SOS alerts, e-locks, fuel rods and comprehensive Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) secure drivers from penalties, driving through dangerous territories, pilferage and overall on-road security.
Today’s environment offers a strong potential for fleets to put their operations in high gear and make a sustainable positive impact on the lives of drivers. With such far-reaching benefits for business profit and to its primary stakeholder, it is incumbent upon the fleet ecosystem to fast track technological adoption.
Vidit Jain is co-founder LocoNav, a tech-enabled fleet management company.