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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. As this initial wave winds down and economies re-open, every business needs to turn its sights toward recovery, and fleet management is no exception.

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.

Contrary to the transformative impact the pandemic has had on other industries, the implication for fleet management is one of bringing underlying challenges to light. Many of the challenges fleet managers encounter today have existed for quite some time. Only now, a solution to these problems has become critical in order to recover and reposition after the pandemic.

What kinds of challenges?

New customer expectations

Both businesses and consumers have been under pressure from the pandemic response and the distressed 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 necessities like food and groceries.

Whether your fleet is delivering industrial or consumer goods, your customers expect cargo 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.

Added danger on the roads

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 also comes increase in fleet managers’ biggest concern: accidents.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 500,000 accidents result from blind spot issues annually, 9 percent of fatal accidents arise due to driver distraction, and nearly 60 percent occur due to unsignaled lane departures. 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 optimized 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, however. 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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