7 Jan 20

Your LCV fleet’s Top 5 productivity challenges (and how to overcome them in 2020)

New year, same issues: operating an LCV fleet comes with a set of challenges that are both particular and persistent. But help can be had, efficiency improved, and costs reduced. Here’s an overview of the five biggest productivity challenges for commercial fleets, and how to overcome them in 2020.

Day-to-day LCV fleet management is busy and challenging enough, but as every fleet professional knows, long-term profitability requires long-term vision. In a mobility ecosystem that is faster and more volatile than ever, that’s an increasingly difficult task to accomplish in isolation. 

The upcoming Connected Fleets Conference 2020 is an occasion to transcend the daily grind, join with peers and experts from across the world and focus on the issues of tomorrow. More on that event below – first, a look at some of the most common challenges facing LCV fleets. 

1.    Paperwork

In an ideal world, everything that is repeatable has been automated. In the real world, that is not the case. Consequently, LCV fleet administration eats up a frustratingly large amount of time and effort. In a recent survey of fleet decision-makers, quoting and invoicing, finding and sending the right person for the job, managing expenses and keeping customers informed were cited as some of the main time-sinks.

The answer: digitise. Reducing paperwork doesn’t just reduce paper, it also reduces work. That’s because digitised processes are easier to automate – invoicing, delivery scheduling, managing operational expenses, etc. 

2. Fuel

Once the fiscal darling of governments across Europe, diesel has lost its preferred status and is going up in price, while going down in popularity. Yet it remains the favoured fuel for the transport industry, including the LCV sector. As a result, many companies – including their fleet managers – are of the opinion that LCV fleet costs are higher than necessary.  

The answer is manifold. Tracking and analysing the movements of the vehicles in your fleet is one way of rationalising fuel expenditure. This may include specific attention to driver behaviour. Another non-exclusive option is to look into alternative fuels. Pure-electric and hybrid LCV models are few and far between, but they may be the solution to at least some of your fleet’s fuel cost problems. 

3. Maintenance

Your LCVs are workhorses rather than show ponies, but even beasts of burden require care and maintenance. What’s more, skipping on regular check-ups for reasons of time and money often end up costing more, either in time or money, or both. Just a little example: not adjusting (low) tyre pressure costs you 3% extra mileage. Nevertheless, taking vehicles out of regular rotation for service and maintenance is costly in and of itself. How to balance this out?

The answer: predictive maintenance. Via the appropriate application of Big Data, the ideal moment for repairs, replacements and maintenance can be determined, at minimal loss of time, and therefore at minimal cost. 

4. Driver communication

Here’s a crucial difference between ‘regular’ corporate fleets and LCVs: ‘regular’ employees drive towards a job, but for LCV drivers, the drive is the job. That means LCV fleet managers need to be able to communicate efficiently with their drivers while they’re on the road, to discuss changes in priorities, tasks and routes. 

The answer: yes, regular smartphones may suffice for most of your requirements. But at crucial times, complexity and necessity may require more high-performing connected systems. 

5. Just in Time

Your LCV fleet is the final, essential link in a logistics chain that promises just-in-time delivery. That puts a lot of pressure on your scheduling skills, on the vehicles, and on the drivers themselves. Perversely, this pressure may be a contributing cause to a significant number of late deliveries. 

The answer: increased connectivity enables better efficiency, leading to greater predictability and a higher success rate. 

Common solution

In fact, the answers to all five issues point to connectivity as a common solution. As indicated by the answers to the 2019 Global Fleet Survey, connectivity is a major topic for fleet managers. The main reasons for wanting to install telematics solutions in vehicle fleets are (in descending order of importance):

  • Increasing safety (and reducing insurance liability);
  • Optimising driver behaviour;
  • Better reporting and control;
  • Generating cost savings.

Main obstacles

That’s why 26% of fleet managers surveyed said they were already using telematics solutions, and a further 52% said they would do so within the next 36 months. However, installing and applying telematics solutions is easier said than done. The same survey points to some of the main obstacles to implementing telematics in vehicle fleets (again, in descending order):

  • Issues with data privacy:
  • Resistance from work councils;
  • Resistance from users (drivers);
  • Lack of common standards.

Continued excellence

You can overcome these obstacles for your fleet! Join leading fleet managers, telematics buyers and corporate mobility stakeholders to the Connected Fleets Conference, which will taka place on 28 and 29 January in Brussels. The January session of this one-of-a-kind forum will focus on Connectivity & Commercial Fleets, and it will bring you up to speed about issues regarding Last Mile, electric vehicles, data and Artificial Intelligence, financing commercial fleets and much more. Find out more about the programme here.

Authored by: Frank Jacobs