There are very few jobs that haven't changed in some way over the last 10 or 20 years, but the changing role of fleet managers has been significant. There was once a time when the key skill of a fleet manager was to understand vehicles - the costs, options for purchase, resale value, likely mechanical issues, maintenance routines, and more. Those skills are still important, but the role of a fleet manager today involves more than maintaining vehicles.
Fleet management is now much more like a business manager. This is because it comes with significantly increased strategic and financial responsibilities. While the role of a fleet manager has always been important in business, these enhanced responsibilities make it even more so. In fact, the work of the fleet manager can mean the difference between making a profit or not.
For a start, fleet managers are no longer only responsible for vehicles. Other company assets also come under their remit such as:
Even some buildings, particularly those used in the logistical side of the business, are often the responsibility of a fleet manager.
The additional responsibilities don't end with managing assets, however.
The financial responsibilities of the modern fleet manager are substantially greater than they were in previous decades. There are many reasons for this including the pressures on cost that exist in all industries. Also, the fleet is one of the largest costs that many businesses have, meaning controlling it is essential. In addition, there is much more scope for reducing costs today than there was in the past. One of the main reasons for this is the development of new technologies.
As a result, fleet managers today are responsible for improving efficiencies. They are also responsible for financial planning, reducing financial risk, and measuring and optimising whole life costs. This is in addition to the traditional responsibilities of managing a fleet budget and being involved in the company's procurement processes.
A fleet is essential to the operation of many businesses, but it also exposes the company to considerable levels of risk. In fact, more people die in work-related incidents that involve vehicles than by any other cause.
Companies have a duty of care under health and safety laws to maintain safe workplaces for their employees. This applies to vehicles used for work purposes as much as it does for any other type of workplace.
This means many fleet managers have significant health and safety responsibilities. This includes ensuring the fleet is roadworthy and safe as well as providing driver safety training. Fleet managers must also take action to mitigate the risk of the most common causes of accidents including speeding, fatigue, and the use of mobile phones.
In addition, driver training in the world of the modern fleet manager often goes further than health and safety issues. Other training topics include reducing fuel use, driving efficiently, and driving with consideration of other road users.
Technology is a greater part of a fleet managers job today than it ever was before, and the use of technology is increasing. This includes everything from telematics solutions that help you manage your fleet to camera systems that improve security and safety.
In fact, technology is the driving force behind many of the efficiency savings and productivity gains that fleet managers achieve for their companies. For example, using telematics software to reduce fuel costs by monitoring idle times. You can then use this information to encourage drivers to switch their vehicles off when not in motion.
Environmentally friendly policies are crucial to most companies in Australasia today. As vehicles, plant, and other heavy equipment can generate substantial carbon emissions, most fleet managers have sustainability responsibilities. This includes reducing the impact of the fleet on the environment by purchasing vehicles and equipment with environmentally friendly features as well as through effective fleet operation and maintenance.
It is clear the role of fleet managers has changed in recent years but what is also clear is the role will continue to change. New innovations continue to give fleet managers highly intelligent and useful data they can use to improve the business overall.
In addition, there is another technology that is set to change the role of many fleet managers in the near future - autonomous vehicles. In fact, this disruptive technology will change the role of fleet managers more extensively than anything in the past.
Of course, autonomous vehicles are going to present challenges for companies. This particularly applies to the redeployment of employees who are no longer needed to drive or operate the fleet.
For innovative and forward-thinking fleet managers, however, huge opportunities exist as these new technologies come on-stream.