November 2012, Automotive Fleet - Feature
As Chevin Fleet Solutions in the U.S. celebrates a decade of successful business, Ron Katz, senior VP of North American Sales, takes a look back over the 10 most notable fleet management trends of the past 10 years. From boom to bust, the past 10 years have brought a number of trends and changes that have stretched and challenged even the most seasoned fleet managers.
Perhaps one of the defining narratives of the past 10 years in fleet is the move from a traditional ownership approach to an outsourced model. From outsourcing the entire fleet management function to adopting lessor agreements in the place of vehicle purchase and utilizing third-party providers for maintenance and accident management, the market has been flooded with choices in recent years.
Yet, with this pick and mix of options comes additional risks: losing access rights to crucial data, maintenance history getting lost in translation, and communication errors through disjointed functions and processes.
2-‘U’ is for Utilization
In the glory days of yesteryear (circa 2003), there was, arguably, less pressure on fleet managers to analyze vehicle usage in fine detail to ensure complete optimization of trip and/or load allocation.
Fast forward a few years and the signs of the economic slowdown started to appear, prompting organizations of all shapes and sizes to reassess traditional methods of assigning vehicles and equipment, while reducing both unnecessary costs and harmful CO2 emissions.
In fact, at Chevin’s 2012 user group conference, several senior fleet administrators admitted to having vehicles standing around unused for months on end — pushing up maintenance, storage, and finance costs.
3-Going for Green
The last decade has seen a major shift in how we relate to the environment and our role and responsibility in reducing unnecessary emissions and waste. Once unashamedly one of the world’s greatest contributors to global warming, the U.S. can now be proud of its position on climate change issues and sustainability initiatives.
Whether fleets embrace greener fleet practices, such as selecting more fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicles in an effort to meet ever-increasing environmental legislation or to add to the wider organization’s corporate social responsibility credentials, going green has become a prominent trend — one that is sure to continue for many decades to come.
The price per barrel of fuel has skyrocketed in the last decade, leaving many fleets struggling to maintain any type of control over their operating budget.
Reassessing the types of vehicles purchased or implementing driver awareness training to promote more fuel friendly driving behaviors are now required steps in an attempt to minimize fuel spend. Harnessing technology to encourage such fuel-saving strategies is crucial as the tide shows no sign of changing for the better.
5-Promoting Safety at Work
Driver safety has always been a priority for fleet operators, but, due to the increasingly litigious society that we all live and operate within today, employers must be ever vigilant of their legal responsibilities regarding employees’ welfare if they’re driving a vehicle for business purposes. This has facilitated a move toward process automation as a risk mitigation tactic, resulting in technology that can provide a safety net for thousands of fleets across the country.
This includes in-vehicle safety devices to technology that enables automated oversight of driving practices, maintenance schedules to ensure vehicles are roadworthy, and detailed intuitive exception reporting to warn of potential hazards or out-of-compliance situations, such as missed or overdue driver medical check-ups, certifications, or renewals.