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An Expert Guide to Post-COVID-19 Fleet Management

by Titan GPS

COVID-19 has dealt a massive blow to countless industries, and fleet management is no exception. Fleet managers have always had their hands full with logistics and compliance, but the pandemic has created a whole new set of obstacles to overcome. In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at how to adapt to “the new normal” and provide a comprehensive list of post-COVID-19 fleet solutions that can help. 

Location-independent Software Solutions

Using technology to streamline fleet management is nothing new, and it’s been working its way into fleet operations for some time now. But the pandemic greatly accelerated its usage and has resulted in significant innovations in a short time frame. Now in late 2021, we’re at a point where fleet management software has basically become ubiquitous, and it now enables remote work, vehicle tracking, data access for fleet managers, and a general operational improvement. 

As a result, fleet managers and drivers are no longer bound by location like they often were in the past. Instead, there are now robust location-independent software solutions that allow fleets to carry out daily tasks like they always would, but without having to be in direct contact, resulting in a much higher level of fleet safety from a COVID standpoint. 

There are two main solutions you should be aware of — remote fleet management and geofencing.

Remote Fleet Management

As its name implies, this solution is specifically designed to allow fleet drivers to access the information they need from any location and to provide fleet managers with a user-friendly mobile portal so they can stay up-to-date from anywhere. Fleet drivers, for example, can use remote fleet management software to verify their location, accurately fill out HOS logs, and record pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspections. 

As for fleet managers, they can use this type of digitalization to run their fleet just as they normally would and complete tasks such as:

  • Dispatching drivers
  • Tracking vehicle and equipment maintenance
  • Completing administrative paperwork electronically
  • Monitoring driver behavior
  • Communicating with drivers
  • Running reports on fleet performance

With mobile app accessibility, all of these tasks can be done from anywhere to ensure compliance and optimal communication without the need for direct interaction, which is crucial for post-COVID-19 fleet management.

Geofencing

With geofencing, you can create virtual boundaries around an area on a map so you can record and measure the activity that happens within that perimeter. You can, for instance, see when vehicles or equipment arrive and depart from the area and tell how fast the drivers are going. That way you can be alerted to entrances and exits, monitor how long drivers spend at locations and generally gain a better understanding of the overall activity. 

In turn, geofencing creates a high level of transparency without requiring fleet managers to physically be present at a location — something that’s extremely helpful for post-COVID-19 fleet management. 

Fleet Driver Health & Safety

Employee health and wellbeing have always been top priorities for fleet managers. But it demands even more attention these days as we’re all striving to maintain a safe working environment and prevent the transmission of the virus. This starts with following best practices where you have fleet drivers do the following:

  • Follow social distancing protocol of at least six feet when they’re in contact with others
  • Wear face masks
  • Repeatedly wash their hands and apply hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol) throughout the day
  • Routinely washing down surfaces like steering wheels, door handles, and tools
  • Clean off levers, buttons, and touchpads 
  • Stick to a consistent cleaning schedule

For fleet managers, they should:

  • Always try to have fleet drivers travel to their destinations in separate vehicles 
  • Instruct drivers that are experiencing COVID-related symptoms to stay at home
  • Adjust work hours, if possible, to minimize face-to-face interactions
  • Stay updated on federal and local regulations regarding COVID
  • Provide drivers with hygienic items like facemasks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes 

Right-sizing Your Fleet

Another way many fleet managers have responded to the pandemic is by adjusting the number of drivers and vehicles in their fleet to lower the risk of spreading the virus. Toward the start of the outbreak, for example, some fleet managers scaled back, downsizing their staff and vehicles. However, as things continue to normalize, they may need to hire back or hire new staff members or bring on additional vehicles. 

On the other hand, other fleet managers may now be at a point where they need to employ fewer drivers than they did previously, which, in turn, means they also need to reduce the number of vehicles in their fleet. Wherever your company falls, right-sizing your fleet is another integral part of thriving in the trucking industry post-pandemic. 

Some questions to ask to find the sweet spot are:

  • How many fleet drivers do we truly need?
  • Which vehicles do we absolutely need?
  • Which vehicles could potentially be removed from our fleet?
  • Which vehicles are most cost-effective to use?
  • If we downsize, do we have enough manpower and vehicles to keep up if demand increases in the future?

Reducing Financial & Health Liabilities with AI Dash Cams

One area of fleet management that’s experienced massive innovations as of late is AI dash cams. Mounting to vehicle dashboards, these devices have a wide range of features, including:

  • Live view of what the driver’s seeing and what the driver’s doing
  • Real-time alerts for driver coaching opportunities
  • Automatic drive time recording for HOS purposes
  • Pre and post-incident analysis 
  • Secure cloud storage
  • Driver performance metrics

These features are helpful for creating a more transparent fleet culture and minimizing financial and health liabilities under normal conditions. But they’re helpful for post-COVID-19 fleet management as well. A good example would be using the built-in virtual coaching feature of AI dash cams to relay relevant health information to drivers in real-time. By using in-cab cameras and audio, a fleet manager can instantly notify a driver of potentially dangerous behavior like failing to wipe down high touch surfaces.

Or, if any other issues arise where failing to follow proper vehicle sanitization protocol is brought into question, an AI dash cam will have footage recorded to serve as evidence. This can go a long way for using digitalization to prevent the need for face-to-face interaction while keeping an accurate record of driver activities.  

Invest in the Right Fleet Management Technology

We talked earlier about some of the capabilities of location-independent software and how it can be used to manage fleets remotely. But you can do even more by investing in comprehensive fleet management technology

Here are some notable features:

  • GPS tracking to monitor the location of your fleet at all times
  • Fleet telematics to generate detailed reports on vehicle health, maintenance schedules, driver location, and more
  • Fuel usage monitoring to better control costs
  • Route optimization to efficiently route and reroute drivers to locations, saving time and fuel
  • Built-in payroll, HR, and invoicing solutions (platforms like Titan GPS integrate with third-party tools to make administrative tasks more convenient)
  • Real-time alerts and in-cab audibles to reduce risky driving behavior, such as speeding, aggressive driving, or distracted driving on a cell phone
  • Incident management to provide continual driver training to sharpen the skills of your fleet 

Rather than having to rely on physical interactions like in the past, these aspects of fleet operations can be done digitally so you don’t skip a beat regardless of what happens moving forward in a post-COVID world. 

Ensuring Seamless Post-COVID-19 Fleet Management

To say the pandemic has thrown fleet managers a curveball would be a huge understatement. It’s created logistical, compliance, and health challenges no one could have ever anticipated. Fortunately, these challenges can be overcome with the right mix of smart strategy and innovative technology. And the points in this guide should provide you with a template to ensure the highest possible level of fleet safety moving forward. 

You can also get in touch with an expert and discover how fleet management software can help your fleet stay efficient and productive in the “new normal”.

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