It is difficult to ignore the growing role technology is playing in fleet vehicle management. From GPS systems and tracking software to telematics, the tools and resources available to managers and drivers are vast. However, the latest technological trend in fleet vehicle management is mirroring that of the everyday consumer. According to a recent study, the global smartphone audience will total 1.75 billion in 2014. While this is good news for people that want to access their emails, search the Internet and interact with friends via social media on the go, it also has numerous benefits for fleet vehicles and managers too. Recently, an increasing number of managers are using smartphone and tablet applications to improve daily operations and routine tasks. But how exactly are mobile devices changing the way fleets are managed? What can they be used for, what are the benefits and what apps are available?
What can smartphones be used for?
As the capabilities and functionalities of smartphones increases, so to do their potential applications. At this moment in time, they can be used for navigation, imaging, time stamping and signature recording. However in the future, they could soon perform several other tasks too. In addition to providing the driver with information or assistance for things like locations and routes, smartphones can also deliver valuable feedback and fleet data to managers. For example, if the condition of a vehicle needs documenting every week, then a smartphone can take images with a timestamp and attach an accurate location. Previously, managers would have to take the driver’s word for it or assume everything was ok. But now, evidence and proof can be recorded on the spot, which gives managers a better understanding and greater control over their fleet. On top of that, smartphones are incredibly handy and potentially indispensable if a driver has an accident. Images of the incident as well as witness reports and contact details can protect fleets from fraudulent insurance claim and reduce vehicle downtime. Due to this rising smartphone trend, developers are now designing apps with fleet vehicle management specifically in mind. Therefore whether you’re interested in maintenance costs, risk management, mileage reporting, vehicle tracking, hours worked or fuel emissions, mobile devices and their applications seemingly have the answer.
What are the benefits of mobile devices?
- Ease of use – Due to their widespread adoption, most people have come into contact with smartphones before. And even if they haven’t, they are much easier to get to grips with than other forms of technology that may have been introduced in the past. Large screens and responsive interfaces make the user experience a simple, straightforward and enjoyable one. There is little danger in drivers or other personnel becoming frustrated and confused by today’s smartphone offerings.
- Lightweight and portable – As opposed to other types of technology or equipment that might take up a lot of room, smartphones and tablets are incredibly portable due to their lightweight and compact nature. So whether they’re being used for navigation, capturing images or taking notes, employees will be able to carry them anywhere without being a heavy burden.
- Extremely versatile – As mentioned previously, mobile devices are capable of performing a myriad of functions and tasks with the greatest of ease. In addition to the kind of applications fleet vehicles would benefit from, drivers can also easily communicate with managers and check company emails. Even if your business needs to expand its offering by introducing a new product or service, smartphones and tablets will undoubtedly still come in handy.
- Availability and affordability – Today’s smartphone and tablet market is saturated with an abundance of devices. Some of these cost hundreds of pounds, but others are very affordable and excellent value for money. And although Apple is the only manufacturer to use the iOS platform, various devices run Android or Windows, meaning that every employee, regardless of who makes their phone, can use certain apps.
What smartphone and tablet apps are available?
- TrackUnit – Check the status of your fleet with up-to-date information about each vehicle including their location, driving and working hours as well as stopped time. TrackUnit also features an innovative Geofence alarm, which will alert a fleet manager when a vehicle moves outside a predetermined area.
- Dropbox – Not specifically created for the fleet industry but nonetheless extremely useful.In the worst-case scenario that your driver is involved in an accident, he or she can upload photos, witness statements or contact details automatically to Dropbox. With its mobile application, uploading, organising and sharing files is incredibly easy. What’s more, content can be accessed on a wide range of devices.
- Truckcom– Designed for HGVs, this cloud based management software can also track your fleet but includes instant electronic POD, integrated satellite navigation and paperless vehicle check reports too. Additional features include vehicle defect management, proof of delivery and financial functions, which are bound to be valuable tools as well.
- Toodledo – This productivity tool is perfect for things like accident reporting or vehicle inspections. With Toodledo you can create to-do lists and notes, prioritise these according to importance and collaborate with co-workers. It is also possible to assign tasks, track time spent on a project, create reminders based on location, and sync data to all your devices.
- GreenRoad – Despite being similar to other fleet trackers, GreenRoad places an emphasis on driver safety. Data is compiled from actual real-time driving events to come up with a Safety Score. Managers can easily access these scores, which are filtered by highest-and-lowest ranking drivers.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that smartphones and tablets will become integral parts of our daily lives, not just from a social point of view, but also in the working environment as well. The good news for fleet managers is that mobile devices have an abundance of uses and benefits, which simply cannot be ignored. Furthermore, smartphones and tablets are easy to use, very portable, remarkably versatile, relatively cheap to purchase and fairly straightforward to implement. With more and more developers designing fleet specific apps, it seems like this is one trend that’s here to stay.
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