If you’ve ever had to manage a fleet of vehicles, chances are that key management is often a major hassle. Staff often don’t appreciate that the car key is effectively the linchpin of fleet operations; if keys go missing, fleet assets become unusable until the keys are found or replaced. Therefore, an effective key management system is a vital fleet management tool that will ensure keys don’t go missing, assets are available, and staff aren’t experiencing unnecessary downtime.

Car keys hanging on an office key hook

What exactly are key management systems?

A key management system is a technology solution that helps you manage the keys of all the vehicles in your fleet. This can range from a simple key hook and key safes through to full SaaS implementations. Ideally, they should be simple to use, and the solution should also be scalable so that it can match the growth of your organisation.

Key management solutions are designed to help fleet managers keep tabs on which staff members have accessed keys. They remove the burden placed on fleet managers to chase after forgetful staff and stop the cost of purchasing replacement keys from eating into your operational budget.

Key storage isn’t necessarily key management

For most people, key storage and key management are synonymous. But in reality, they aren’t the same thing.

You can pick up a basic key safe for a few hundred dollars at most locksmiths and hardware stores. You place all your keys inside and set a 4-digit pin code. Voila! You’ve implemented a key management solution.

Except that you haven’t. You’ve just upgraded how you store your keys.

A key safe on its own doesn’t stop staff taking multiple keys. Or the wrong keys. It certainly doesn’t encourage staff to return keys promptly once they’ve finished using a vehicle. Maybe they’ll go take a long lunch, and when they return from their trip keep the keys in their pocket. Whoever has the next booking will have to wait until after lunch to get hold of those keys.

It also doesn’t encourage staff to explore alternatives to taking a vehicle at all, such as teleconferencing, public transport or walking.

A basic key safe also makes it harder for staff to get access to keys: they’ve got another password they now have to remember! Let’s not forget that the whole point of implementing a key management system is to remove friction and reduce staff downtime. Reducing downtime makes staff more productive and saves your organisation money.

How Key management systems work

So how exactly do they work?

A key management system works by connecting staff to fleet assets through technology. Staff make a booking via an online system, which shows the available vehicles that are suitable for that journey. It checks that the staff member is licensed to drive that vehicle and ensures that the staff member only takes the key allocated for the booking. It also prompts the staff member to return the key at the end of the journey to close out the booking.

Truly effective key management systems also do several additional things:

  • They easily adapt to multiple locations

    Some organisations have multiple sites where fleet vehicles are stored. A key management solution should be able to adapt to staff who might access vehicles stored in multiple locations.

  • They provide accountability
    By restricting access to keys, staff are required to be accountable for their booking. Furthermore, by requiring that a key be returned to finish a booking, staff are incentivised to promptly drop keys off after use.

  • They provide additional security
    Smartrak’s KeyMaster key safe has an in-built camera that takes a photo of whoever collects a key. Fleet managers can easily review who took a key and follow up accordingly.

How Smartrak’s key management systems can help your business

KeyMaster

Our KeyMaster key safe gives fleet managers a wide range of options for managing keys. These safes integrate directly into our PoolCar booking software, which makes vehicle booking and availability simple and easy, and they give fleet managers the ability to restrict who can book specific vehicles.

KeyMaster key safes can be installed in remote locations, meaning your keys can be decentralised, and staff don’t have to go out of their way to collect keys before heading to their vehicle.

KeyMaster key safes also have security features such as a security camera, so you can review exactly who collected the key for each booking.

KeyMaster Cabinet
Keyless Entry

Keyless Entry

Alternatively, our Keyless Entry solution allows you to store the keys directly in the vehicle. Staff simply use their smartphone, RFID card or fob to unlock the vehicle. Then they remove the keys from the glovebox and start the car as normal.

Regardless of which solution you prefer, Smartrak’s key management systems ensure that your keys stay secure, the time involved in managing them is minimised, and vehicle users have a simpler, more efficient way to access them – That’s three things you no longer have to worry about.