Ensuring Fleet Operations Don't Become a Runaway Vehicle

Airlines, rail operations, government agencies and commercial fleets all present unique challenges when it comes to protecting the assets involved in transportation operations. They do have one thing in common; however, they are all subject to misuse, damage and even theft. There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer when it comes to fleet management. Managing forklifts within a distribution center is much different than managing a fleet of government vehicles located at multiple locations throughout the city.

The damage or theft of a vehicle, tablet or a hand-held scanner affects the bottom line of any business. Vehicles returned in the same condition they were taken saves money. Knowing where your assets are, who is using them, how long they have been in service and when they are returned helps you manage them more effectively.

It is interesting that a search on the internet regarding how to best manage your fleet will yield 9.6 million results, but as you scour through them, it is almost remarkable that very few of them state “control the key” as a way to do this. Software is important, data is important, compliance is certainly important, along with the other items listed in the millions of pages on this topic. However, those measures are all inadequate unless you start with the most basic of controls -- the key.

There are many advantages provided by an effective key management solution that can control your keys and everything mentioned above with either a standalone or integrated software platform.

Central to any risk assessment on the P&L is an effective training program. To establish a good training program, you first need to acquire data to recognize where the issues truly lie, then you must put in place a system to train your employees to avoid preventable accidents or risks.

If, for example, you are responsible for a fleet of vehicles to service your airline, accidents can occur due to lack of attention, carelessness, or just plain haste (assuming they are reported at all). Through proper key management systems, your business can determine which vehicles are in operation, when they are due back, who have them and who had them before historically.

All of those behaviors can be altered by controlled access to those assets, creating instant accountability. This saves you money and resources; 100% accountability is an amazing tool. The old adage “you can’t manage what you can’t measure” is a fundamental practice often lost in today’s fast-paced business world, (or even worse is each organizations dirty little secret). These issues can be hidden by a business unit trying to keep their bonus payouts intact for safety or write off performance.

Another advantage of an intelligent key management process is determining when vehicles are in use and when they require maintenance or service. When was the last time you checked your “paper log” to make sure it is accurate and up-to-date? Are you sure employees aren’t doing each other favors? With an automated system, keys are quickly checked out electronically and the software can identify faults and even issue work orders through integration, dictating when they need to be taken off-line or brought in for service. This can be everything from an oil change to a flat tire, but imagine how much money a business can save if this process was automated and auditable? Thousands, even millions of dollars could be added to your bottom line depending on the size of your fleet and the number of locations where you operate.

A quality key management or electronic locker solution also allows your business to control and check your inventory to ensure it is properly allocated.  How much time is being wasted when a tablet or scanner that isn’t charged is issued out?  Are the vehicles being issued based on their job function, or are employees just taking their favorite or newest vehicle? An effective solution can not only audit this data, but control the process entirely.

How much money is over- or under-utilization costing your organization? Do you even know? If you have a truck that’s never used at one site, but you have one at another facility that is about to fall apart, this reportable data can help you decide whether to move a vehicle, decommission the worn out one or decide it’s time to purchase a new one altogether. In our rapidly changing business environment, this type of information can put your assets where they can be utilized best.

Employee efficiencies are another advantage of key and asset accountability. You know when and where your employees are operating.  You can contact them through the system via automated alerts. This gives you the on-line ability to make rapid decisions to deploy your people where they are most needed with the right equipment needed.

Pooled and issued assets always come with the background issue of misuse. Equipment can be damaged or over-used due to zero accountability, poor skillset or even an employee operating under the influence. Think of the impact an intelligent key management solution could have on your business by controlling access to keys or machinery without disrupting the daily flow. You’ll know with certainty that only authorized users are utilizing those machines. Take it one step further by implementing an absolute or random breath test to ensure they haven’t had too much to drink before they sit behind the wheel, putting the organization at extreme risk. How much risk could be mitigated if a business unit can control and cross reference who is driving what vehicle, making sure they are licensed to do so and this data can be audited at the push of a button?

Imagine an environment where vehicles and equipment can be reserved in advance for the days they are needed, and also allows the manager to determine who should be operating equipment on any given day. How much more effective would your interdepartmental operations become? How much abuse would you identify? Would it help you to know that you have 257 vehicles in your fleet but only 198 are being utilized? A proven key management solution offers your fleet operations many benefits.

A properly implemented solution will manage the processes and data to run your business in ways you never thought possible. This is the power of automation; an intelligent key management solution can give you a ROI you can drive to the bank!