How can software improve fleet management?

By Niamh Marriott07 April 2022

From energy consumption to geolocations and operator availability, different software can help record and keep track of useful data to optimise fleet management. Niamh Marriott reports.

When used appropriately, data can be useful to not just collate, but to inform actual decisions. Italy-based digital telematics provider Targa Telematics, for example, offers the industry a connected fleet management solution.

BigChange provides visibility of assets such as location, current hire status and any reported defects (Photo: BigChange)

Depending on the package purchased (standard or premium), the solution allows fleet managers to view and use the data of a connected vehicle such as fuel level, geolocation, engine warning lights, speed and crashes. The solution also includes a rider recognition module via NFC (Near-Field Communication) technologies. The data can be viewed on a desktop as well as a mobile app. It can also be integrated into a customer’s IT systems or sent as a detailed report via email.

Data-driven decisions

With the Targa system, connected vehicles have the eCall emergency call service and the Stolen Vehicle Recovery (SVR) service, providing direct assistance with local police in the event of theft. These services ensure safety for both driver and vehicle, and are managed by Targa Telematics control rooms operating in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) area.

Alberto Falcione, Targa Telematics VP of sales, says, “Vehicle connectivity is now a key requirement for our customers, who are increasingly focused on the digitalisation of operational processes and operating in an efficient and informed way, making data-driven decisions. Our systems provide new services and new solutions for an increasingly efficient corporate fleet and to facilitate a fleet manager’s job.”

Print and pick

As well as the most state-of-the-art digital solutions, traditional and digital labelling can be a useful asset for identification of assets on site. It keeps track of what is where and ensures correct storage and inventory of accessories and equipment. Certags, for example, offers an on-site labelling system which means companies can print their own heavy duty tags and labels for shipping and storage, as well as for compliance reasons.

Remote and digital management

Remote management can be useful for fleet management so on-site and office teams can communicate easily and digitally. BigChange is an online job management system which can organise customer relationship management (CRM), job scheduling, live tracking, field resource management and job finances.

BigChanges’ system replaces paperwork, both in the office and out on site using tablets or smartphones (Photo: BigChange)

Since crane rental companies have highly valuable assets, optimising their utilisation is crucial. Effective planning and co-ordination are important to making sure the right assets are in the right place at the right time. Crane services require especially tight control due to the operational and safety requirements.

BigChange provides visibility of assets, including location, current rental status and any reported defects. By having visibility of every asset nationwide, fleet resources and plant can be shared.

BigChange also recently adopted location technology what3words that allows drivers and field service engineers to pinpoint delivery, servicing and collection locations to within 3 metres. By adding what3words to any job booking, no time is wasted looking for the correct location.

The system replaces paperwork, both in the office and out on site using tablets or smartphones. This not only eliminates the burden of handling paperwork and data entry, but all information is instantly available as the mobile devices synchronised in real-time with the back-office system.

Crane companies have to adhere to stringent safety procedures and BigChange is particularly useful here, says the company. Workflows set up on the mobile devices take operators, step-by-step, through the correct procedures onsite and the software ensures all data is complete, including complicance forms, and then sent immediately to the office.

BigChange is also helping rental companies monitor damage to improve the management of reclaim charges as the software provides an audit track of condition of all assets, with inspection reports supported by time and location referenced photographic evidence, including photos taken on site when delivered and collected.

Real-world

Already introduced to the market, there are several companies that use BigChange, including DM Cranes, AFI, Quick Reach and Altida in the UK.

Powered access company Quick Reach reported a 200 per cent increase in damage charges by using BigChange to accurately record damages. “The ability to capture and record information, including photographs, at every stage which has resulted in the tripling of our damage charges,” says Jim Dorricott, operations director at Quick Reach.

The AFI Group has boosted the productivity of its nationwide team of engineers and drivers with BigChange. AFI provide powered access machine rental and sales, and operates from 20 locations in the UK, and six in the Middle East.

Certags heavy duty labels can be used for shipping and storage of equipment and accessories (Photo: Certags)

“With BigChange, we build our own workflows which means we only ask relevant questions and perform applicable tests; for example, if we are inspecting an electric machine why check fuel levels? It sounds obvious, but every question that doesn’t need to be asked or test that doesn’t need to be undertaken is time, and therefore money, saved,” says Chris Jowett, group IT director at AFI Group Services. “This also leads to quicker fixes for our customers.”

Planning for operators and engineers is now undertaken for the whole of the UK from central offices and management have complete, real-time visibility of every vehicle. AFI is also transitioning other aspects of transport management to BigChange, including PMI scheduling, MoT test and tax reminders and DVSA checks.

Mobile crane rental company Altida in the UK has improved the efficiency of its transport operations with BigChange. By automating the scheduling and communication of rental contracts and service requests, the company has reduced back-office administration and improved route planning, reducing unnecessary mileage.

The automation of timesheets and invoicing is also improving cash flow through the business.

Embracing software provides multiple benefits and, depending on what companies need to monitor, analyse or display, it can be useful to view in real-time on accessible digital screens. It can make fleet management much more efficient and reduce waste, as well as keep all workers in the loop.

SOFTWARE ACQUISITION

UK construction software company Construction Industry Solutions Ltd (COINS) acquired asset management solutions, AssetTagz. The company says the purchase is to enhance its cloud platform and expand its market reach.

AssetTagz is designed for managing assets across multiple sectors and is scalable for the size of the business.

Robert Brown, COINS Group CEO, comments, “With the acquisition of AssetTagz, COINS gains a piece of the jigsaw puzzle in the digitisation of end-to-end construction processes. AssetTagz solutions are already in use by COINS customers, including Byrne Group, Careys, Reach Active and Laing O’Rourke.”

AssetTagz enables assets to be tracked, traced, and located using a combination of RFID (radio frequency identification), NFC (near field communication) and barcodes. A cloud-based central repository of asset information provides an organisation with a single source for its inventory, from hand tools and safety equipment through to heavy plant and tower cranes. The company says logging this information reduces costs and increases compliance and auditability of assets.

AssetTagz will continue to trade under its current brand as a sister company to COINS but with closer sales collaboration and technical integration of its solution with COINS Construction Cloud.
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