This article will give you an overview of fleet management software, pricing and some advantages & disadvantages of using vehicle tracking.
What Is Fleet Management Software?
Fleet management software refers to software that powers fleet management and vehicle tracking systems (cars, vans or lorries) belonging to a company or commercial organisation. Tracking software can be downloaded onto a laptop, PC, tablet or mobile phone and enables you to determine the real-time location of a vehicle using GPS satellite signals.
It can be used for a range of functions including:
- Tracking drivers' driving habits
- Vehicle maintenance
- Speed and fuel management
- Vehicle telematics (tracking)
It is most commonly used by multi-vehicle operations like couriers, delivery companies and vehicle repair services (AA, RAC) for the purposes of increasing the efficiency and productivity of the business.
The use of fleet management software systems in the UK commercial sector is growing and the number of units in service is predicted to grow from around 1.5 million in 2009 to 4 million in 2014. Pricing can vary greatly. It is possible to get free fleet management software, and if you buy a vehicle tracking system a software bundle will usually be included in your fees. Whether you should opt for more simple free fleet management software options or pay more and get a higher level of service depends both on the size of your fleet and what industry you are in.
|Supplier||Software||GPS Integration||Other Features||OS||Free||Price|
|Telogis||Fleet Management||✓||Fuel Management|
|TomTom||Webfleet||✓||Tracking & tracing|
|Web based||Free trial|
Types of Fleet Management Software
There are a variety of vehicle tracking devices available to purchase online. Some will only use GPS satellites in order to transmit their location; others can use mobile networks such as GSM/GPRS coverage and then switch to a satellite connection when a mobile network is not available.
Message terminals are a frequent addition to vehicle tracking devices as they allow the tracking user to communicate directly with the driver as well as providing information such as accurate speed measurement to avoid speeding charges. They can also feature an emergency button in case the vehicle becomes involved in a hazardous situation.
Most fleet management software comes with GPS technology as well, so you can track in real-time the location of your vehicles 24 hours a day, the speed they are travelling and if they are stationary. With fleet management software you can keep track of:
- Routine & scheduled maintenance for vehicles
- Tax and insurance renewal dates
- Management & renewal of driver licences
Some software even has extra features such as the ability to schedule a driver's route, which is then sent to their Satellite Navigation system.
The Different Functions
Whilst most fleet management software offerings focus on improving vehicle and driver efficiency by using vehicle tracking, there are many additional functions available from some of the larger providers, such as:
Financial management: important for organisations such as car rental companies managing very large fleets of vehicles, the financial management function enables you to track the value of each vehicle from purchase to sale and to monitor costs incurred from fuel, services and repairs.
Vehicle performance monitoring: probably most important for haulage firms, keep an eye on the performance of each of your vehicles in real time. This feature can also be used to troubleshoot, enabling managers to identify problems before they become too serious (e.g. a drop in oil pressure or a brake issue).
Vehicle tracking: the core of all vehicle fleet management software, tracking via GPS, cellular or other solutions enables managers to know the exact position and speed of all their vehicles at all times.
Aided by the software, they can therefore plan routes, ensure drivers are running on time, and warn them of any traffic issues, potentially modifying routes on the fly. In addition, they can monitor the time spent driving by each driver to ensure that they are not working illegal hours.
Compliance: as mentioned above, there are important legal requirements for fleet managers concerning driver safety, shifts, vehicle speeds and any other issues that can help avoid accidents. This is particularly important as the law states that the company as well as its driver is considered liable in the case of an accident.
Vehicle tracking software can be set up to monitor all of the different legal areas so that it can automatically flag any compliance issues before they become serious. Many applications help managers to establish ‘profiles’ for drivers so that they can monitor for any that may be liable to flout the rules.
Security: one of the biggest challenges for fleet owners, whatever the fleet’s size and shape, is security. The vehicle tracking element of fleet management software ensures that managers are able to keep track of even stolen cars, vans or trucks, and thus help the police to retrieve them. More advanced versions even include a remote link to vehicle engines so that they can be prevented from starting.
Prices of GPS Fleet Tracking Software
Typically, businesses that use software for fleet management will rent their vehicle tracking equipment on short-term contracts because it works out to being more cost-effective. The cost is included in the overall package which covers both the device equipment and the necessary computer software.
Prices depend on the level of functionality you require from your tracking software and the motivation behind your purchase. Generally speaking the more vehicles you need to track and the more complex the set of features you need the more you'll pay.
A basic package that allows for tracking for multiple users, location updates, route replays and Google Maps location representation can be paid for in monthly installations based on a fixed contract. Typically a simple tracking unit will cost £25-£30 a month to rent on a minimum 12 month contract. An installation fee of around £60-£70 is usually charged as well.
The most advanced packages, which includes all of the aforementioned as well as utilisation reports and optimised route planning which can be exported to Satellite Navigation systems is generally somewhat more.
Free Fleet Management Software
While fleet management software generally costs money and it is hard to find truly free fleet management software, there are several options available to companies with a small fleet and a small budget.
GPSWOX ist the only supplier that offers truly free fleet management software. Their GPSWOX Lite plan is completely free, but allows only the tracking of one object. Real time alerts are not available and there is no history of your data.
Cheap Fleet Management Software
There are a few very cheap options for fleet tracking if your company has only a limited budget. The GPSWOX Pro plan will let you track up to 25 vehicles for only £8/Month. Fleetio has a basic plan available from £2/Month which includes preventive maintenance reminders, maintenance logging and fuel tracking modules.
Many of the very cheap or free fleet management software options will integrate with common tracking devices. They are a good option for when you have bought a tracking device that doesn't come with a software plan, or when you have already been tracking your vehicles for mileage purposes but now want to start practising more advanced fleet management.
If you are not yet tracking the vehicles in your fleet, then most new trackers bought today will come with a fleet management software bundle. TomTom and Fleetmatics are both renowned vehicle tracking suppliers that offer fleet management software as part of their vehicle tracking systems. Both TomTom's Webfleet and Fleematics' Reveal are highly regarded in the industry.
Vehicle tracking and everything that that encompasses is the most basic element to any fleet management software and also perhaps the most important. There are a number of ways in which it can benefit a business using it on a fleet of vehicles:
- Drivers know the software is installed so are wary of going off-route or parking up to read the paper.
- Drivers are more aware of their speed, knowing that it can be analysed back at the office.
- Fuel consumption is reduced as the most efficient routes can be planned.
- Save money through effective, location based job allocation.
- Vehicle recovery in the case of theft is quick, reducing damage.
- Reduced insurance costs.
Perhaps the most significant way is in reducing fuel and wage costs, the two biggest expenditures for any such business. Taking over-long routes to destinations, speeding and leaving the engine on while stationary all waste fuel unnecessarily.
Drivers fiddling time-sheets and fibbing about exactly how much work they've done can also be eradicated as you have an accurate record of where they've been and when at your fingertips.
For a large company savings of tens of thousands pounds a year can be made. Customer service can also be improved. By using vehicle tracking you are able to keep customers more closely informed of any possible delays in receiving their deliveries, more accurate ETAs can be given as well.
There are certain possible downsides to using this kind of software that need to be considered. The first is worker resentment. Companies that use vehicle tracking software might cause their workers to feel resentful that their managers are tracking what they do and don't trust them. However, it is possible to communicate openly with your employees about the benefits of vehicle tracking. It might also increase stress in workers knowing that they are being monitored. The other possible drawback is expense.
Having units installed in all your company's vehicles can be expensive, particularly if you are buying the units outright.
Also, there is a possible danger that companies can become too reliant on the technology of fleet management. Meaning that if there is ever a problem with the units or they should malfunction, that having to do for themselves what was being done for them at the touch of a button might prove too difficult and stressful.
Having said that though, the overall benefits of using GPS fleet management and software for a business reliant on a fleet of vehicles in terms of increased productivity and efficiency would seem to far outweigh any possible downsides.
With industry analysts predicting that the vehicle tracking industry is set to grow to be worth over billion a year worldwide over the next five to ten years, it looks like it's something that is here to stay.
If you are interested in hearing more about prices to buy or lease a vehicle tracking system for your business, then fill out the form at the top of this page and a select group of excellent suppliers will get in touch with you.