Fleet management software is a collection of different applications used by distribution firms and logistics departments of manufacturing firms to:
We created this guide to help buyers like you navigate the fleet software market and identify the best solution among the many available.
Here's what we'll cover:
Fleet management solutions help users track assets and inventory, optimize delivery routes and schedules and reduce risk factors associated with fleet management. Ultimately, this can lead to reduced operational costs.
In contrast to fleet maintenance software, which is focused on tracking the materials, parts and labor used for vehicle repair, management is a broader system meant to keep the overall fleet operating smoothly.
Common fleet software functionality includes:
|Dispatch & scheduling||Dispatch software is a core application in many fleet management solutions. It is used for tracking orders and deliveries and for managing and scheduling a fleet.|
|GPS tracking||An integral feature in many systems, GPS tracking allows users to visually monitor where their vehicles are in real time.|
|Route planning and optimization||Typically used by fleets with vehicles making multiple stops, route optimization functionality plans routes in the most efficient way possible, by determining the shortest and most fuel-efficient paths between each stop. May include fuel management modules to fully maximize fuel efficiency.|
|Rates and quotes management||Allows long haul shippers to gather carrier rates and quotes and manage shipments.|
|Load optimization||Helps carriers make the most of their cargo space, by taking the volume, weight and dimensions of what is being transported into account in order to determine the most efficient load that the vehicle can carry.|
|Fleet maintenance||Helps manage and keep track of maintenance for vehicles. Schedules preventative maintenance and notifies users when maintenance should happen.|
There are many different types of buyers who seek fleet management systems—ranging from long haul shippers, to local delivery fleets, to healthcare transportation services, to heavy machinery movers and public services fleets (e.g., law enforcement, public transportation, city utilities or waste management).
Some types of buyers have unique needs based on the nature of their operations. A few common buyer types include:
Third-party logistics (3PL) firms. 3PLs oversee logistics operations—typically, everything from transportation to warehousing—for clients. 3PL firms are growing in popularity, according to industry reports, as more shippers are outsourcing their logistics operations to them. As such, these firms typically need full suites (bundled packages of related applications) of trucking, warehousing and inventory control applications.
For-hire carriers. Trucking companies that transport cargo for other businesses will likely want a suite that offers full functionality in operations and business management for the freight and logistics industry. Pay careful attention to the accounting and inventory control capabilities, especially if you deal largely in less-than-truckload (LTL) rather than truckload shipping. LTL specialists will also want strong scheduling and dispatch capabilities, and may wish to consider customer relationship management (CRM) software if they have a large customer base.
Private shipping fleets. If you represent the transportation wing of a company whose core business is something other than transportation, you’ll need a different type of solution than a for-hire carrier. You may wish to consider an enterprise suite that’s targeted less at trucking and dispatch and more at the company’s core business, yet still includes trucking management capabilities. If you do decide to focus on trucking management, make sure the inventory control and accounting functionality integrates with the company’s other systems.
Freight brokers and forwarders. Freight brokers are intermediaries that match shippers with carriers. As such, they require specialized suites of software that have strong scheduling, quote management and CRM capabilities (CRM will help organize customer databases). Freight forwarders are similar to freight brokers, except that forwarders take physical possession of shipments in order to make the most efficient use of the carriers’ cargo space. Therefore, they typically have similar needs to those of freight brokers, in addition to software that features load optimization, inventory and warehousing functionality.
Local delivery services. Local delivery fleets may transport anything from food to equipment to chemicals. Delivery vehicles see strong benefits from GPS tracking applications that allow the real-time tracking of vehicle locations. For fleets with vehicles that make many stops, route optimization is also a key functionality.
Taxi or car services. In the case of taxi or car fleets, the client is the cargo. Taxi dispatching and scheduling applications are key for these fleets, as are GPS tracking applications.
You should be familiar with the following market trends as you evaluate fleet management software products:
Environmentally friendly logistics. With environmental consciousness at an all-time high, consumers are starting to take notice of where their goods come from—and how they got there. Despite the substantial carbon footprint of the shipping industry, fuel-saving measures implemented in a fleet can add up. Routing software allows users to save fuel by determining the most efficient routes, and maintenance applications can ensure that a truck is well maintained, thus preventing fuel loss.
Business intelligence. More and more fleet management systems offer intelligent analytics that identify areas where money can be saved in a fleet’s operations, based on internal and external data and the company’s historical trends. For example, this data can optimize scheduling and dispatching operations, determine the most fuel-efficient routes and make the most effective use of cargo space. This trend is likely to continue as big data becomes even more prevalent—and valuable—in transportation industries.
Mobile devices. Mobile applications present a strong value proposition for fleet companies. They allow drivers to stay in constant communication, call ahead with estimated delivery times, upload delivery verification nearly instantaneously, provide dispatch notes and countless other benefits.
Trucking companies getting “Uberfied.” In 2015, a number of services popped up that have been referred to as the “Ubers” for the trucking industry. These services allow trucking companies to easily find on-demand available shipments, thus preventing “empty miles” from being driven.
Autonomous trucks becoming reality. In 2015, Mercedes unveiled their autonomous truck, a concept vehicle that is “production ready” and can drive without a human operator. Many industry experts believe autonomous trucks will be on the road in great numbers in as little as five to ten years.
Apple partners with Telogis. In a move to strengthen its competitiveness in the enterprise realm, Apple has partnered with fleet management vendor Telogis to provide refined fleet management apps on iOS devices. The applications could be paired to work with the Apple Watch, which could automatically send a truck driver’s heart rate status to their employer in order to maintain regulatory compliance.
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