Mobile Applications to Increase Fleet Efficiency
Smartphones and other mobile devices have changed the way people go about their daily lives. Likewise, mobile apps have made it easier for businesses to operate. Companies can track orders, shipments and deliveries with the help of mobile apps.
Whether they are delivery companies, HVAC businesses or landscaping companies, businesses that operate a fleet can use mobile apps to manage their fleet. If you want to know where your drivers are, how they are getting from point A to point B, and whether they are driving safely, a fleet tracking app will help.
The Importance of Fleet Management
Fleet management lets you know where your company's vehicles are at all times. It also allows you to see how your driving team handles your trucks and other vehicles. Fleet management has two components. One component lets you examine and evaluate the performance of your vehicles on the road. The other lets you develop a maintenance plan for your vehicles to keep costs as low as possible and extend the lives of the trucks, vans or cars your company operates.
Aspects of fleet management include the following elements.
Monitoring Fuel Usage
Your vehicles need fuel to get where they are going. How efficiently those vehicles use fuel depends on various factors. The length of a trip and the driver's habits can reduce fuel economy, for example. Aggressive driving, including hard braking, quick acceleration and speeding, can reduce fuel economy by up to 30% on the highway and up to 40% in stop-and-go traffic.
Idling for extended periods, carrying overly heavy loads and making short trips also reduce fuel economy. Fleet management allows you to plan ways to reduce idling and make the most of your driver's trips. A fleet management software program can also alert you to habits that increase your company's fuel costs.
Evaluating Driver Safety
Fleet management allows you to monitor your driver's habits, letting you intervene when you notice unsafe habits, including speeding. Unsafe driving can affect your business's bottom line in several ways. First, it increases wear-and-tear on your fleet, meaning you need to schedule more frequent maintenance and repairs. Second, it increases fuel costs. Additionally, unsafe driving can affect your company's insurance coverage.
If your drivers have many accidents, your insurance provider might pull coverage or increase your premiums dramatically. Screening your drivers before hiring them and conducting regular identity and driving record checks can help protect your fleet and keep your insurance bills reasonable.
Tracking Vehicle Location
When you operate a fleet, you must know where your vehicles are at all times. You need to know your trucks' or vans' locations so you can send them where they need to go when necessary. Without a fleet management system that tracks your vehicles, your company can be at greater risk of theft or misplaced trucks. An employee might take a truck out for an unauthorized trip on the weekend or after business hours, potentially leaving you scrambling for a replacement.
If your fleet management program includes tracking, you can see where your vehicles are on the road, which ones aren't where they should be and which ones are potentially delayed. You can use the location information to make decisions and adjust your business schedule as needed.
Another part of fleet management is scheduling the vehicles. Before the advent of fleet management software, scheduling relied on paper and pen and many phone calls. A dispatcher would need to phone drivers to schedule their next trips, noting their current location on paper. An app streamlines the process, letting you send drivers to their next assignments quickly, based on their vehicles' location and the location of the next job.
Trip planning is an essential part of fleet management, too. The goal is to schedule trips to maximize fuel economy and minimize delays. Trip planning can also include mapping out and scheduling deliveries to reduce fuel spend and ensure packages get to their destinations in the most timely way.
How Fleet Management Has Evolved Due to Mobile Technology
Mobile technology makes an internet connection possible in even remote locations. Using a mobile app, you can keep tabs on your fleet no matter where you are, as long as you can get online. Mobile technology has also streamlined the process of managing a fleet. What you once had to do by hand, such as mapping out drivers' routes or figuring out which packages to load onto which vehicle, an app can now manage for you.
Tracking fleets with mobile apps has also cleaned up the office. Your business will likely use less paper when it handles scheduling, planning and vehicle tracking digitally. That means there are fewer documents to misplace and less time spent shuffling through paperwork.
What the Best Mobile Fleet Management Software Can Do
Hundreds of different mobile fleet management software programs are available. They aren't all created equally, though. Some are feature-rich, and some offer the bare bones. The best programs usually provide the following:
- Speed tracking: How fast are your drivers going? A fleet management software program can alert you when your drivers go above a certain speed, such as 65 or 75 mph. Speed tracking allows you to nip this behavior in the bud or give drivers a warning when the app detects an unsafe speed. Reducing speeding saves your company money on fuel and also helps protect its reputation by avoiding accidents.
- Rapid acceleration monitoring: Jackrabbit starts put a lot of stress on a vehicle, increase fuel use and can signal that a driver is engaging in other unsafe driving behaviors. A fleet management app that detects rapid acceleration enables you to address that type of driving behavior and stop it.
- Identification of other bad driving habits: Aggressive driving can take multiple forms, including speeding and rapid acceleration. Hard braking, tailgating and taking turns too quickly are other examples of aggressive driving. If your drivers know you have software installed in the vehicles that monitors their driving behavior, they are more likely to drive more cautiously. They'll avoid behaviors that wear down your trucks, increase the risk of getting a ticket and raise your insurance costs.
- Fuel tracking: Tracking your drivers' speed can also help you analyze and reduce fuel use. Going over 50 mph usually leads to a notable drop in fuel economy. An app that tracks speed can also help you investigate fuel use, allowing you to find ways to cut fuel costs and encourage your team to drive more efficiently.
- Vehicle location tracking: Where are your fleet's vehicles at the beginning, middle and end of the day? You need to know that information to ensure the vehicles are being used as intended and to reduce loss or theft. A fleet management program should include GPS tracking so a dispatcher can see at a glance where each truck, van or car is. Vehicle tracking reduces the chance of theft and helps your team plan the most efficient routes or send the right vehicles to the right jobs.
- Driver identification: You want to know who is operating your fleet's vehicles, when they got behind the wheel and when they turned off the engine and returned the keys. A software program should streamline the driver identification process, letting you know the details of the people driving each vehicle. Driver identification is beneficial if you have a large fleet and many drivers on your team. You can use the information to determine who is responsible for certain behaviors or who was behind the wheel when an incident occurred.
- Route planning: You get a call for a delivery, or someone needs service ASAP. Ideally, your fleet management software will show you the drivers nearest to the call's location and let you dispatch them right away. Route planning removes the guesswork from fleet management, allowing your company to respond quickly. It also improves your customer service and your business's overall reputation.
What to Look for in a Fleet Tracking App
Many fleet tracking apps and software programs are available for business owners who manage small, medium or large fleets. When choosing the best fit for your business, here's what to look for:
- Features: Ideally, the app will offer the features your company needs to improve its efficiency, save money and remain compliant. Those features might include safety monitoring, routing and driver identification.
- Cost: Some apps are free, which might seem like the best option for your business's budget. When evaluating software programs, though, it's worthwhile to see what you get for the app's price. Free can be good but might not be the best option. For example, an app available for a monthly fee will likely offer more features and higher-quality customer service and support than a free app. A free app might also have more bugs or be more error-prone than one that charges a fee.
- Ease of use: It's worthwhile to request a demo of a fleet management program before you commit to it so you can see how user friendly it is. Some apps are more intuitive than others, so it might be worth trying a few before choosing one. It can also be a good idea to have your team members try an app and encourage them to give their opinions on how easy it is to use — or how complex it is, depending on the app's setup.
- Customer Support: If you have a question about the app or need help figuring out how to use it, is there a customer service team available to advise or walk you through the process? It can also be helpful to pay attention to the quality of the customer support team. Some software companies might expect you to jump through hoops, or they might limit the available help based on your particular service level.
- Scalability: The app you choose should work for your company today and in the future as it grows and its needs change. The app should keep working as efficiently as it does now as you add to your fleet's size or hire more drivers. A platform that advances alongside your company is necessary for attaining success in any rapidly moving industry.
Mobile Apps for Fleet Management
If you're interested in using a mobile app to manage your fleet, track drivers and keep tabs on your vehicles, explore some of the options on the market.
NetTrack is the fleet management software program available from Track Your Truck. It's a scalable solution that can evolve as your business's needs change. Some of the features and benefits of NetTrack include:
- GPS tracking to reduce speeding: NetTrack provides GPS updates, which include a speed, so you can see how fast your drivers are going. Additionally, GPS lets you see if your drivers are speeding, allowing you to take any needed action. For example, you might want to suspend a driver who travels 55 mph in a school zone or residential area, as speeds that high can endanger pedestrians. A driver going 65 mph in a 55 mph zone of the highway might get a warning.
- Monitoring to lower fuel waste: Reducing your drivers' speed helps improve fuel economy. So does monitoring and reducing other inefficient driving habits, such as prolonged idling. NetTrack includes a StandStill report, which lets you know how long vehicles are standing idle. Reducing idling and encouraging drivers to turn off the ignition can mean more fuel savings for you and less harm to the environment.
- Monitoring to improve your company's customer service: Did a package make it to the customer on time? Did your repairperson get to the next customer during the scheduled appointment window? The more punctual your services are, the happier your customers will be. Monitoring vehicle location and surrounding traffic conditions with NetTrack allow you to dispatch the driver who will most likely complete the job on time. You can also use the app to plan delivery routes to maximize efficiency.
- Logging to keep your company compliant: Electronic logging is crucial for compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's rule. NetTrack works with electronic logging devices to help your company stay compliant and improve your overall efficiency.
- Monitoring your vehicle's status: Your driver left your company headquarters in the morning and returned the vehicle at closing time. Where did the truck go during the day? Were there any unauthorized stops or detours? NetTrack has a Start/Stop feature that lets you see when vehicles are active and stopped. You can also track how many miles a vehicle travels between each stop. If anything is unusual, you can follow up with the driver to see what's been going on.
Waze isn't strictly a fleet management app. It's a GPS navigation app that lets you leave comments on the route, such as notifications of traffic jams or other issues that slow down travel. You can use the app to plan your drivers' routes to save fuel. The app also shows you where the nearest gas stations are, should a driver need to fill up on the way to a job or after making a delivery.
Another useful app feature is that it lets you keep tabs on your drivers. If a driver does get stuck in traffic, you can let the customer know of the delay and give them options to proceed. Since Waze isn't specifically a fleet management app, it doesn't provide features such as speed monitoring or driver identification that you would get from other programs. This might make it less suitable for your business applications if you're specifically searching for those higher-level specialized app functions.
Odoo is a free fleet management software program. It might be a good option for your company if you want to try using an app without paying for the service. Fleet management is just one of the platforms offered by Odoo, an open-source program. Other programs available from Odoo include website building, project management and employee onboarding. It can be ideal if you want a program that manages all your business needs.
Because Odoo is free, you might not get the customer support you need when you need it. The support team is reportedly slow to respond to issues. Another concern with Odoo is that there is limited training available when you begin using the app. Since you aren't paying for support, it's up to you to teach yourself the software's basics.
If you're tech-savvy, that might not be an issue. If you have many people to train, though, you might be better off choosing a user-friendly app that provides support and assistance more readily. That way, you won't have to spend as much of your time training all your employees and can increase productivity within your business.
GPSWOX is a white-label GPS server that offers free and paid versions. White label means the app has paid to license another company's product, which has its benefits and drawbacks. A potential benefit is that a white-label app's cost is usually lower than the price of an app designed and built by the company offering it.
A potential drawback of a white-label app is that the company offering it can only provide limited support to its customers. White-label apps also usually don't roll out updates or bug fixes as quickly as custom-built platforms, which means you won't have all the latest modifications that can help you stay up to date, efficient and ahead of the competition.
GPSWOX offers features such as speed monitoring, fuel consumption tracking and vehicle location tracking as a fleet management app. Its interface is intuitive and relatively easy to use. It also works with a wide range of tracking devices, making it a good option if your company already has GPS trackers and is looking for additional fleet management support.
KeepTruckin is a fleet tracking app available in free and paid versions. It offers various features, including fuel consumption reporting, vehicle tracking and electronic logging device (ELD) compliance. The software is user friendly and offers access from any mobile device.
One potential drawback of KeepTruckin is that its customer service team can be hard to contact. Additionally, the response you might get for your concerns can vary considerably depending on who you work with. If you opt for the free version, the features and support available are notably limited, which may ultimately require you to upgrade to the paid version for more flexibility.
Learn More About NetTrack From Track Your Truck
Tracking your fleet lets you save money, improve efficiency and facilitate safer roads. NetTrack from Track Your Truck is a mobile app that lets you keep tabs on your fleet from anywhere, making fleet management easier than ever. To see it in action, request a free demo today.