Logistics software is useful for many other fleet-related cost-saving initiatives besides simply streamlining the delivery process. Managers of small and medium-sized businesses that spend a significant amount of time throughout the year transporting goods on city streets or across U.S. highways must organize a variety of parts to succeed. Customers in this industry often demand a swift turnaround from distributors, and seemingly simple issues, such as driver management, vehicle maintenance and fuel conservation, can create unexpected obstacles to the profitability of any ongoing operation.
The industry magazine Automotive Fleet recently completed a survey of commercial fleet managers to identify their top concerns going into 2014. Above all other issues, businesses are especially preoccupied with their abilities to control overhead spending in the face of renewed economic activity. For most small and midsize organizations, fleet operations make up only a portion of their overall responsibilities. However, the high cost of maintaining vehicles and purchasing fuel can lead to an uneven spread of resources that inhibits any opportunity to achieve maximum efficiency.
"The pressure is always to do more with less," Brett Switzky, fleet, trucking, and record retention manager for American Family Mutual Insurance, told the publication. We have more initiatives, but a smaller budget."
Automated technology makes it easier to manage assignments
Focusing on efforts to improve driver management is one way to rein in fleet spending. Whether it's the need to schedule more deliveries with a small staff of employees or reduce time spent on the road by encouraging safe driving, introducing advanced tools into the workplace will lead to immediate savings. The magazine said another major concern affecting fleet owners in 2014 will be the issue of driver behavior. Under new limits to the amount of time employees can spend operating a vehicle from the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT) hours-of-service regulations, managers have a variety of incentives for keeping each shipment as focused and reliable as possible. Route optimization software, which enables businesses to plan ahead and complete multiple assignments in one trip, will make all the difference in realizing long-term goals for limiting overhead costs. Similarly, trucking dispatch software offers fleet owners a more comprehensive view of their available resources. This convenience eliminates small inefficiencies that quickly add up over time.
Weather issues highlight importance of vehicle maintenance
This year has already tested the durability and safety of commercial fleet operations. Extreme cold in areas throughout the Midwest and the East Coast have even had a negative impact on industrial activity, according to a report from MarketWatch. The website said the cold weather is largely to blame for the recent reduction in new housing starts in the construction industry. While the weather is frequently prone to fluctuations, businesses often have no choice to but to continue their operations as normal. Equipment maintenance software will ultimately make it more convenient for managers to prepare their individual vehicles for the cold. Roadside breakdowns can impose long-term damage on overall profitability. Any opportunity to prevent these occurrences is valuable for small and midsize fleets.