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The Top 3 New Technologies Optimizing Fleet Management

Today’s fleets are instrumental for getting products and people where they need to go on time. However, the people monitoring those vehicles and making necessary adjustments are just as important. Many individuals in those roles use fleet management technology to streamline their duties and reduce the likelihood of delays. Here are some of the leading new technologies facilitating that optimization. 

1. Better Tracking and Payment Options for Paratransit Riders

Many people with disabilities who can’t use mass transit options use paratransit services. They assist individuals with getting where they need to go via door-to-door pickups and drop-offs. However, riders may have to schedule their trips several days in advance. Plus, they often don’t go straight to their destinations. Some people pass their drop-off points while the driver completes another passenger’s trip.

This often inefficient and sometimes confusing routing system often frustrates everyone involved. Drivers usually have no control over it and must follow the instructions on a dashboard computer. The vehicles are frequently late to pick up new passengers, causing some to contact the dispatch office for updates. 

The fare system associated with some paratransit fleets is problematic, too. Some drivers only accept tickets from books riders must buy in advance. Others only accept limited forms of payment, meaning people must carefully plan to make sure they have the fare in an acceptable format. 

There’s no single solution for optimizing paratransit. Many of these issues have persisted for years. However, some fleet managers are doing what they can to make improvements. For example, Denver’s paratransit service recently launched a service that allows riders to purchase tickets on their smartphones for immediate or future use. Those sales could help fleet managers see how service utilization varies and track ticket-buying trends. 

Elsewhere, Montreal’s paratransit service launched a real-time vehicle-tracking feature for passengers where they can get reliable details without calling the dispatch office. Such information is also handy for ensuring people won’t wait outside for too long in bad weather. Such improvements must become widespread for maximum impact, but these are practical steps in the right direction.

2. Autonomous Delivery Options

Improvements in fleet management technology have stimulated progress in route optimization. Managers can review aspects such as traffic conditions and a driver’s current location to figure out how to get drivers to their destinations faster. Many solutions even suggest the most efficient option. These technologies reduce wasted gas and time, helping the bottom line.

However, certain driver behaviours, such as rapid stops and starts or weaving in and out of traffic, can negatively impact fuel consumption, reducing the effects of some technologies meant to help gas mileage. That reality may push some fleet managers to pursue options that deliver goods without drivers. 

Some of the applications are a little unconventional. Passengers waiting for flights at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) can order snacks and drinks that are delivered by robotic vehicles. However, that’s not the first time an airport has used autonomous solutions. One location in India uses self-driving pods that take people from the airport to a nearby city. 

Other autonomous solutions go much further, and they help fleet managers cope with ongoing driver shortages. One example is a truck that went from the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas to Atlanta with only safety drivers to supervise. The vehicle travelled 6,350 miles, making four round trips in approximately five-and-a-half days. 

The truck ran continuously with only brief breaks to swap out safety drivers to comply with labour-hour regulations. Supporters of this technology think it could make a significant difference in fleet capabilities. More goods could be carried in fewer overall vehicles and companies would not need as many drivers. 

3. Augmented and Virtual Reality 

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are starting to make significant impacts in the world of fleet management technology. Someone using a VR system typically engages with a wholly simulated environment, while a person using AR sees both virtual and real-world elements. Fleet managers primarily use them for improved effectiveness in maintenance and driver training. 

Companies including Peterbilt Motors and Daimler Trucks North America use AR to improve service appointments. For example, technicians can use AR to see inside a truck before disassembling anything. That often helps fix problems faster, putting vehicles back on the road sooner. 

In the United Kingdom, more than 90 training centres use VR and immersive, 360-degree video to help people qualify for their heavy goods vehicle (HGV) licenses sooner. The content teaches them vital safety information and allows them to prepare for their tests more effectively. The material includes reversing a vehicle, performing a walk-around, conducting a pre-drive safety check, and coupling and uncoupling a cab and load. 

Logistics company UPS’s new hires use defensive driving simulations during their first five days and periodically throughout their whole employment spans. The setup also allows drivers to experience simulated weather conditions that may be wholly unlike those they typically encounter. 

Jon Bowers, director of learning technology at UPS, explained, “Introducing drivers into an unsafe virtual environment lets them practice how to react without having the real, dangerous experience.” He continued, “We all struggle with distractions that stall our engagement. The VR arena makes that next to impossible. You have to concentrate on what you’re seeing and hearing."

Fleet Management Technology Will Change the Industry

These are not the only possibilities in fleet management technology. Apps can help businesses pay their drivers faster or help them get through weigh stations more quickly and with no physical paperwork. Some fleet companies also use data analytics platforms to pinpoint areas for improvement and reveal ongoing progress. 

However, the technologies mentioned here are among those making the biggest impacts, often because advanced solutions are easier to use and more budget-friendly than in past years. Even though it’s now easier to adopt fleet technologies, that doesn’t mean company decision-makers should do so hastily. 

Companies will be most likely to get the best results if they select a few well-defined goals. That makes it easier to see which technologies are the most appropriate for current and long-term needs. Advancements like those discussed here will be game-changing for the sector and have already brought significant improvements in many cases.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over three years experience writing articles for the tech and industrial sectors. Subscribe to the Revolutionized newsletter for more content from Emily at https://revolutionized.com/subscribe/
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