Trucks at Work

Fleet management by app

 “[Our survey] data shows that web-based fleet management services are well on their way to displacing traditional, stand-alone telematic solutions.” –Jim Heeger, chief executive, GreenRoad.

All apologies to Bob Dylan, but according to a new survey (at least) telematics, they may be a changin’ in the fleet world – moving from fixed, stand-alone technology to more mobile web-enabled platforms that can be accessed and administered by the handy dandy smartphone.

That at least is what driver performance and safety management firm GreenRoad believes is the takeaway from its new Fleet Leaders Survey, which discovered that over half (57%) of the 178 respondents in its poll said they are using web-based fleet-management solutions, with another 28% actively using smartphones and 8% using iPads or tablet computers.

[Want to watch a fun example of how this “connected” fleet technology is supposed to work? Check out the commercial below that profiles New Zealand heavy hauler McCarthy Transport, which installed smartphones in all 70 of their trucks.]

GreenRoad further discerned via its poll that “connected” fleet technologies – defined as software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions combined with smartphone and mobile technology using high speed internet connectivity – are growing at the expense of traditional stand-alone telematics and PC-based software systems with no web access.

Only 41% of fleet leaders indicated they are still using PC-based software with no web access, and only 12% are using proprietary handheld mobile devices, GreenRoad said.

[By the way, if you are curious about what GreenRoad does exactly, you can watch how Ryder System uses its technology in the clip below.]

Here are some other findings from the company’s survey:

  • When asked about their future technology deployment plans, 31% of those fleet leaders polled by GreenRoad indicate they will be opting for web-based services, while 25% plan to buy and deploy iPads or other table devices and 22% plan to purchase additional smartphones.
  • Mobile technology solutions are rapidly becoming a vital tool for fleet managers. Nearly 1 out of 5 (19%) of fleet managers are using smartphone or mobile apps to help manage fleets, and 37% of respondents expect to see an increase in the use of mobile apps for fleet management.
  • Drivers are also increasingly using smartphones for fleet-related operations, with 25% of the fleet managers polled by GreenRoad noting that their drivers are using a job-specific smartphone or mobile app and 14% intend to increase driver smartphone and mobile app deployments. Overall, 51% of fleet leaders see their drivers as “tech savvy” with the latest smartphone and mobile devices.  

“We believe the ‘connected fleet’ is something that will positively impact all aspects of fleet operation, and that definitely includes driver performance and safety,” Tanya Roberts, senior vice president of marketing for GreenRoad, told me via email.

“For instance, you can imagine that drivers will be more tuned into safety if they have access to real-time safety scores on their smartphones,” she said. “That kind of easy access to the data will help them understand their driving behavior and self-correct.”

Of course, as I’ve said many times before, one survey does not make a trend. Yet it’s an indication at least of the technological direction in which many fleet managers are starting to lean. It will be interesting to see if more follow suit in the months and years ahead.

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