30 Jan 20

Takeaways from the Connected Fleets Conference

More than 100 fleet and mobility professionals gathered in Brussels for a 24-hour power event focusing on connectivity and commercial fleets. We list five key takeaways.

What challenges do today’s commercial fleets face? How can fleet management be optimised with connectivity and telematics? That’s what the attendees set out to find out, each bringing their experience and expertise from commercial fleets, postal services and parcel delivery companies, online retailers, logistics companies and a wide range of specialised suppliers.

These are five lessons the attendees took home after this year’s event.

1. Plan your procurement to avoid unnecessary costs, but build in a flexible layer to absorb temporary needs.

“A van is more than a car,” said Michiel Alferink, Vice President International Commerce & Sales, Athlon International. More than in the case of a car, choosing a van should be determined by maintenance intervals, by tyre lifecycles and by other aspects that can have a direct influence on availability and costs.

At the same time, peak demand requires flexible solutions, which is why Athlon offers rental vehicles that can be used to supplement traditional leased fleets.

2. The hardware is one thing, the human element another. Driver monitoring and coaching is key to keep variable costs at bay.

Benjamin Kaehler, Head of eDrive@VANs, recommends fleets to scan all vans as they enter and leave the depot. This has shown to significantly improve driver behaviour, as they know even the smallest damages will be noticed. Importantly, it also reduces downtime and incidents that can potentially damage a company’s image.

3. Collaboration is paramount. It’s what drives innovation, increases security and creates synergies. Opening up your platforms and APIs is not about giving away your competitive advantage, it’s about staying competitive and therefore to survive.

Koen Kennis, Deputy Mayor for Mobility, city of Antwerp, is clear: his city only gives the green light for new mobility providers if they open up their APIs. In practice, however, he sees much margin for improvement in terms of commercial applications.

4. It’s not only about the last mile, but also the hand-over. Making sure the parcel is successfully delivered is equally challenging.

That’s why Frank Rinderknecht, Founder of Rinspeed, came up with a solution to make this hand-over more efficient. The CitySnap is a vehicle that contains a wall of parcel lockers. It can be driven and parked anywhere, allowing consumers to pick up their package when it suits them. In the future, this vehicle will be self-driving.

5. Telematics is crucial to go electric. It helps you to determine which vehicles in your fleet can be EVs, and it’s the only way to know where your vehicles are, how much range they have left and how long it will take to charge them.

When delivery company Gnewt started operating its first EV fleet in London, founder Sam Clarke (pictured) needed to organise charging using basic clock timers and a spreadsheet to work out a vehicle’s range and covered distance. Today, telematics make this much simpler.

The Connected Fleets Conference was made possible by our founding partners Athlon, Geotab and Mercedes-Benz Vans, by diamond partner Masternaut and gold partner Moove.

Image: Sam Clarke, Founder, Gnewt


Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck