In 2015, Internet of Things analyst firm Berg Insights provided details of the scope of fleet management in South Africa which, they believed, would climb from 0.9 million in that year to 1.5 million in 2020.
However, the firm revised its estimate in 2017, as the number had already reached 1.1 million and was on the way to reaching 1.9 million in 2021.
That’s a significant growth in a short time, likely driven by skyrocketing transport costs caused by rising fuel prices, as well as tough economic conditions that see businesses of all kinds looking for ways to maximise efficiency and keep costs under control.
Fleet management technology is advancing quickly, with new tools allowing companies to monitor their commercial vehicle fleets in various ways. Features such as video monitoring, driver communication, detailed maps, real-time weather and traffic updates give fleet owners increasing control and insight into driver and vehicle performance.
Fleet owners have a wide range of options when selecting a fleet management system, but taking time to answer these three questions can make the process easier:
- What features do you need?
A good fleet management system will be flexible and modular in its design, meaning that owners can add new features as their business grows and they need more functionality. Common features in entry level systems include maps and driver behaviour monitoring, while more advanced features include remote vehicle diagnostics, fuel management and vehicle maintenance schedules.
Each business has its own unique requirements. For instance, logistics companies might be more interested in cost reduction and fleet maximisation tools while transport companies would focus more on safety features and passenger management features.
- What hardware does the system support?
Choose a system that can be seamlessly integrated with third party solutions such as office applications, Bluetooth® wireless technology* devices, temperature sensors, tyre pressure monitors, barcode scanners, printers and various display terminals, and controlled through flexible management control platforms.
Some systems use propriety devices, while others are hardware-agnostic. It is crucial to confirm that the fleet management system connects to existing equipment to avoid unforeseen costs down the line.
- What does the system cost?
The cost of running a fleet management system is less about the capital cost of the software and more about the management of the software to maximise its benefit. A business needs to employ a dedicated individual to manage the various tools and compile regular, relevant reports to be used in the business.
Johannesburg-based logistics company BinClean recently reported a 20% increase in productivity and a 50% reduction in its overtime bill due to its fleet management system. The company reduced its fuel costs by 15% through improved efficiencies. It anticipates long-term savings through much more efficient maintenance.
While it might be tempting to save money by foregoing a new fleet management system altogether, or opting for the cheapest product in the market, cost pressures continue to grow internally and externally. A good fleet management system, while initially a significant capital investment, starts to pay for itself in a few months, unlocking new value in just a few months.
Systems such as TomTom Telematics’ WEBFLEET help owners to optimise their fleets, provide real-time information about the location of vehicles and let managers communicate directly with drivers.