By Robert J. Hall

Today’s fleets face a challenging economy. High fuel costs, increased demands on budgets, and growing pressure to “go green,” for example, are left to the fleet manager to tackle. Here are some of the top challenges that fleet managers must address as they move forward:

1. Finding Ways to Reduce Cost
Cost reduction is not a new challenge, but it remains a priority for today’s fleet managers. In fact, some call it a never-ending struggle. Maintaining a fleet is expensive, especially in a sluggish economy with constrictive budgets. Fuel and acquisition costs keep rising, creating a quandary for the fleet manager. The good news though, is that, even small reductions can help meet this challenge.
How can fleets cut costs? A number of strategies can help. GPS fleet tracking can help lower mileage on fleet vehicles and increase efficiency. Ensuring that the fleet is not over-stacked and employs the right number of vehicles is another way to cut costs effectively. Finally, an attention to maintenance can help reduce long-term costs for the fleet.

2. Fuel Price
While fuel prices dropped a bit in 2015, they still remain one of the No. 1 concerns for today’s fleet managers. Companies are pushing fleets to reduce fuel costs, yet the cost of fuel is not something the fleet manager can control. To meet this concern, fleet managers must find ways to reduce fuel usage by addressing driver behavior or acquiring vehicles that get greater miles per gallon.

3. Increased Sustainability
Is it possible for a fleet, which relies entirely on fossil fuels, to be sustainable? This is a question that the modern fleet must address. Sustainability objectives are hitting every business sector and this includes the myriad trucking companies that keep our economy moving.
How are fleets addressing sustainability? For some, the answer is in alternative fuel vehicles. Electric and hybrid vehicles will reduce the carbon footprint for the modern fleet. However, shrinking budgets and a lack of replacement funds for most fleets makes switching to the higher priced alternative vehicles challenging. In these cases, finding ways to reduce fuel usage through more efficient driving is another option. In the future, fleets will have to determine whether switching to green fleets or simply finding more ways to cut fuel use will be the best way to address the need to “go green.”

4. Driver Safety
Safety is a key concern for fleet managers. Drivers who are not safe increase the fleet’s liability and insurance costs, and also harm the company’s reputation. Poor driver safety increases repair costs and downtime for vehicles as well.

Professional drivers know how to drive safely, but distractions in the vehicle are causing driver safety to become a new concern. Cellphones, onboard technology and similar in-cab distractions create an atmosphere for unsafe driving — and fleets must address these distractions in order to keep their workforce safe.

Driver training can also help address driver safety concerns. Fleet managers are providing a greater number of training materials not only to new drivers, but also to experienced drivers, to help improve safety.

Driver monitoring through fleet tracking systems can also help eliminate careless driving. Companies can reward drivers for good behavior and increase training for drivers who demonstrate a lack of attentive, safe driving.

5. Increased Productivity
Finally, fleet managers are being asked to become increasingly productive. Delivering more products at a faster rate is a huge priority. Technology, such as fleet tracking assisted with GPS, is making productivity initiatives something more fleets are able to support for their parent companies.
In each of these challenges, technology is making it possible for fleet managers to achieve what they need and meet the goals of their companies. By effectively addressing each of these five challenges, fleet managers can become an important player in increasing productivity and profitability across companies as a whole.

Robert J. Hall is president of Track Your Truck, a leader in GPS vehicle tracking systems and software for small and midsized companies.