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Overcoming Fleet Challenges in a Post-COVID-19 World

6 minute read

There are four stages to crisis management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Industries have done their best to mitigate, prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many industries are finding the post-COVID-19 world poses new difficulties and challenges, forcing radical change and a complete overhaul of systems and processes. And fleet management is no exception.

Many of the challenges fleet managers encounter today have existed for quite some time, but COVID-19 has applied extra strain that has been tricky to navigate - even with government policy support. For example, the UK government had vehicle MOTs temporarily extended by six months due on or after 30 March 2020, and to help keep London's supermarkets stocked, the Mayor Sadiq Khan asked Transport for London to suspend all road user charging schemes. Now more than ever, solutions to the increased demand for goods has become critical in order to recover and reposition after the pandemic.

New customer expectations

Both businesses and consumers have been under pressure from the pandemic response and the strained economic conditions it has brought about. Businesses have suddenly found that their margins have tightened, making on-time deliveries more crucial. Consumers are increasingly shopping online, often for groceries 

Whether your fleet is delivering industrial or consumer goods, your customers expect goods tracking. The increase in digital shopping and the added focus businesses place on their supply chain will correspondingly bring to light the shortcomings of fleets that don’t offer vehicle tracking — knowing when your delivery will arrive provides much-needed certainty in a decidedly uncertain time, and the planning this enables could make a big difference in your customer’s outcomes.

More risk to satisfy demand

The shift to online shopping has meant greater volume of deliveries - experts believe that this shift will likely endure even after COVID-19 is no longer a pressing concern for the market. With an increased volume of deliveries and more vehicles on the road with inexperienced/temporary drivers and potentially longer shifts to satisfy demand - comes an increase in fleet managers’ biggest concern: accidents.

As vehicles are increasingly relied on to deliver goods, your fleet will face an increased risk for accidents. This means:

  • Already unmanageable insurance premiums may increase
  • Additional accident investigations will take up more of your drivers’ time
  • There will be greater safety concerns for transported product, drivers, and pedestrians

How can we address these issues?

With the increase in demand, fleet managers should look to ways they can elevate their services and stand out from their competitors. Fortunately, many fleet management challenges can be addressed with the right technology.

Location-based services (LBS) have become widespread in the market and will enable you to provide tracking data to your customers so that they can know when to expect critical shipments and better plan for the future. We’ve written about what factors you need to consider when adopting LBS before, but broadly, you’ll want to identify:

  • An application for your customers to use when accessing tracking data
  • The hardware devices you’ll use to collect location data
  • The network connectivity technology you’ll use to transmit data — this will most likely rely on cellular networks

This can be coupled with video technology to cover driver’s blind spots to prevent accidents. When accidents do happen, video can expedite the accident investigation process and help ensure your insurance covers damages.

LBS and video may make your customers’ and drivers’ lives easier, respectively, but fleet managers can also benefit from outfitting their vehicles with IoT sensors to provide insight into driving hours, brake usage, blinker usage, and other key metrics. Assessing this data can help fleet managers ensure that processes are optimised and that drivers, pedestrians, and products are all kept safe.

What are the key factors to consider?

Just because a solution exists doesn’t mean that it can be easily deployed and implemented. Fleet managers interested in using technology to manage the challenges posed by COVID-19 need to focus on two questions:

1. Is it integrated?

The technologies described above are all independently useful and will improve your drivers’ experiences, but if they remain disconnected, their utility is limited. An integrated solution means that you can collect data on all aspects of your fleet’s operations. Not only does this provide general insight into where you could improve processes, it also provides you with the data needed for usage-based insurance plans, which can translate to significant cost-savings for fleets insured under traditional plans.

2. How quickly can it be deployed?

Outfitting your fleet with a huge array of new technologies might seem like a time-consuming task. In the meantime, those vehicles can’t be used for deliveries. When evaluating a solution to support your fleet’s operations, speed of deployment should be a crucial factor.

Keeping these two questions in mind will ensure that your solutions make life easier for you and your drivers when fulfilling customer orders. While these may be the two most significant questions to ask, there are plenty of other factors to consider. Read our eBook, 4 Essential Steps for Getting Started with Location-Based Services, to learn more about how you can upgrade your fleet operations to meet the marketplace’s new fleet management challenges.

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