The van fleet has long been a vital cog in company growth strategies, sitting at the very heart of business operations, logistics and service delivery.

Now, with the raft of challenges presented by the current economic landscape catapulting cost control to the top of company agendas, today’s fleet decision-maker has become more important than ever.

Against a backdrop of high inflation and interest rates, the cost burden facing businesses has intensified – from energy and insurance to labour and supplies – and this, in turn, has made tech platforms providing dynamic access to information to enrich decision-making paramount.

Indeed, in this climate, telematics systems that are capable of generating a wealth of insights and automating key business processes have become invaluable.

Managing fuel costs

Fuel spend is typically the biggest operating cost for van fleets, accounting for around a third of the total cost of ownership (TCO). This hefty overhead, however, is a variable one that can be managed.

By combining reporting intelligence – everything from vehicle location, routing, scheduling and driver behaviour scores to mpg and idling time, maintenance and fuel card information – trends can be identified and the root causes of fuel wastage tackled.

Using solutions such as Webfleet, businesses can analyse where and how employees are driving to determine the reasons behind fuel usage patterns. Incidents of unnecessary idling, for example – when drivers are parked, keeping warm in these cold winter
days or when vans are left waiting for extended periods during the loading and unloading of materials – can be pinpointed. 

A low mpg may be the result of journeys in residential areas or built-up locations, or it may be caused by harsh, inefficient, driving behaviour, which needs addressing through targeted training programmes. 

Performance insights can also be fed back to drivers in real-time and enable fleet managers to work with them to improve driving styles.

Tyre management in the spotlight

Investing in more energy and cost-efficient tyres can also help. Vehicle tyres are being engineered with ever-greater precision to maximise efficiency and minimise rolling resistance. 

Bridgestone’s Duravis range for vans, for example, deploy various innovations to improve performance and extend tyre life.

Fleets should also be aware that total cost of ownership savings may be realised by consolidating services. Fleetcare, for example, combines Webfleet with Bridgestone’s tyres and tyre management solutions, to offer a convenient, modular solution that allows businesses to address fleet needs from a single mobility partner.

Rich data for smarter planning

The cost-effective management of time-sensitive jobs and deliveries also calls for rich data insights to digitise route planning, optimising productivity and service standards.

Telematics software can enable the sequence of jobs to be optimised with just a click of a button, for example, and customers can be kept up-to-date with automatic email or text notifications, making them aware of ETAs and changes to schedules as they happen.

Connected devices, such as Webfleet’s PRO 8, not only enables drivers to navigate to their destination via the quickest, most fuel-efficient routes, they can digitally capture proof of delivery.

Electrification cost optimised

Despite supply chain disruption, battery electric van (BEV) registrations continue to grow. Year-on-year, from January to November 2022, BEV volumes increased by 47%, buoyed by greater market choice and robust purchase incentives.

Dedicated EV management tools can support this trend by offering insights to ease the electric transition, while minimising cost and optimising performance for the ongoing operation of electric fleets.

Using EV solutions, fleet managers can access information on real-time battery levels, remaining driving ranges and energy usage, alongside insights into charging processes and vehicle charge levels.

Access to such critical insights will ultimately help fleets chart a course through the volatile economic waters that lie ahead.

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