The modernisation of key management

Key management is an essential part of managing a fleet, but while key management hasn’t fundamentally changed, the tools used to manage it have. Traditionally, organisations have managed keys using key wardens, key hooks, and administrative staff. However, digital technology is shaping the future of key management. When you consider that only 30% of fleet managers are prepared for the impact of modern technologies, ignoring this opportunity to modernise your key management solution has the potential to put the operation of your fleet on the back foot.

Key wardens and their role in key management

In many organisations, key wardens are a continuing feature of key and fleet management. They are responsible for the movement, storage and security of all fleet keys. While key wardens serve a vital fleet function, they can be a waste of time and money. Wage costs of non-supervisory workers – such as key wardens – are increasing by 3.3% annually. Employing a dedicated key warden directly impacts your fleets operating costs. There has to be a better, more cost-effective solution.

The benefits of modernising your key management solution

Key wardens are becoming obsolete due to technological developments in key management. The adoption of electronic key cabinets that manage, store and secure fleet keys reduces the need for key wardens and increases fleet efficiency. By reducing if not eliminating the need for a key warden, you will directly reduce your staffing costs. This budgetary change means you can allocate more funds to vital business areas. Smartrak is paving the way for this modernisation with KeyMaster and Keyless Entry. KeyMaster is an electronic cabinet that manages the storage and security of fleet keys while Keyless Entry enables drivers to lock/unlock vehicles using smartphones or RFID technology.

It saves time

Retrieving keys can be a time-consuming activity. The time taken for key wardens to source, store and retrieve keys negatively impacts fleet efficiency. Fleet managers can directly address this issue through electronic key cabinets or Keyless Entry. Smartrak’s KeyMaster centralises the storage and management of keys. Similarly, Smartrak's Keyless Entry eliminates the need for a key altogether, as drivers access vehicles via their smartphone or RFID technology. The implementation of either or both modern key management systems will enable your fleet to operate at maximum efficiency.

It increases productivity

Often key wardens perform multiple roles within an organisation. This means they cannot achieve maximum productivity. As employees switch between an administrative role to that of a key warden, it will inevitably reduce their productivity levels in both roles. It will further impact fleet efficiency and utilisation as employees require time to adapt their ways of thinking and behaving to each role. Electronic key cabinets and keyless entry eliminate the need for mixed role key wardens. Allowing mixed role employees to shift focus back to their primary role. This will allow your fleet to reach a higher level of productivity.

It saves money

The move from key wardens to modern key management methods such as KeyMaster, Keyless Entry or both, will reduce costs, increase fleet efficiency and ensure the success of your fleet into the future. This positive flow on effect will create opportunities for your fleet. The cost savings can be used to acquire more vehicles, update operating systems or reward hardworking members of your fleet.

The cost of replacing your keys

Keys are at the centre of your fleet. Many do not realise the vital role keys play in fleet utilisation and efficiency. When a key is missing or lost, it will directly impact a fleet's utilisation and have hidden follow on costs. A missing key can result in staff members missing a meeting, flight or other important deadline. There must be a better method of key management that eliminates the idle time and costs of key loss.

The cost to the fleet

The every-day nature of car keys means that staff often don’t view them as the costly asset they are. Research suggests replacement keys can range between $500-$5000. Specialist vehicles will incur higher key replacement costs. Keys are the linchpin to your fleet and employee mobility and the idle time associated with their loss will significantly cost fleet management. Key loss could result in an employee failing to make it to a client meeting or trade show on time, or altogether. This tardiness will reflect poorly on your organisation and may impact the future relationship with the client. This highlights how key loss can create hidden and ongoing costs to your fleet. Over time fleet managers can become burdened by the time and money required to replace missing or lost keys, as it eats away at already tight operating budgets.

The cost to administration

A cost burden also falls on administrative staff required to source a replacement key. The time required to source a key reduces the productive time of administrative staff. This time will increase with the speciality level of the vehicle. Many fleet managers consider this cost to be incidental and therefore do not account for it when determining budget requirements. However, the continued decrease in productivity levels of administrative staff due to key loss will present a hidden cost to your fleet.

The Third Key

A third key refers to a key stored separately to the key in use and spare key. The role of a third key is to act as a fail safe if both the first and second key are lost or go missing. This ensures fleet managers can still access a vehicle without needing to get the vehicles locks re-coded. However, the investment in a third key presents an extra cost to the fleet. Specifically, ensuring each vehicle in the fleet has a third key and that they are stored separately and securely from other keys (and are hopefully left unused). The money spent on third keys would be better invested into modern key management methods, ending the need for a third key, while improving fleet accessibility and the funds available to be reinvested into your fleet.

Preventing key loss at its core

Key loss is often the result of neglect and carelessness, and can occur at collection, drop-off or when staff are in transit. This is a major problem with key wardens, hooks, and boards. When key loss does occur both fleet and administrative staff will be operating at sub-optimal levels. With drivers and vehicles remaining out of action until the keys are retrieved or replaced. Administrative staff will also be operating below 100% efficiency, as their time is directed towards key retrieval and replacement over required duties. These sub-optimal levels can be avoided altogether by modernising your key management system.

Keyless Entry eliminates the risk of key loss. Smartrak is leading the modernisation of key management. This technology revolutionises how fleets and their keys are managed. Keyless Entry enables drivers to lock/unlock vehicles using smartphones or RFID technology, enabling fleet managers to store their keys directly in the vehicle they belong to. No longer will drivers or administrative staff need to retrieve or replace keys, they will always be ready to go!

Are your drivers authorised?

Unauthorised vehicle use occurs when a driver receives a key for a vehicle they are not authorised to drive. Unauthorised vehicle use typically occurs in one of the following three ways:

  1. Unauthorised use of a vehicle drivers are legally licensed to drive.
  2. Unauthorised use of speciality vehicle drivers are not legally licensed to drive.
  3. Theft of key resulting in unauthorised and illegal use of a vehicle.

Key wardens, hooks and boards struggle to account for unauthorised use. The unauthorised use of a vehicle has legal, safety and cost consequences for both the driver and the fleet. Fleets can be operationally impacted due to unauthorised use of vehicles, as authorised drivers cannot carry out their role until the vehicle is retrieved or replaced.

Increasing accountability and reducing costs through modern key management

Modern key management provides a level of accountability that is difficult to replicate with key wardens, hooks or boards. Electronic key cabinets such as KeyMaster will only allow an employee access to a key if they have authorisation. This level of accountability is increased by the security camera feature in each electronic cabinet. This camera captures an image of the driver who took the keys. This eliminates potential legal and safety concerns associated with unauthorised use and reduces the insurance costs associated with unauthorised use.

Are you able to easily track your drivers' behaviour?

Key wardens, hooks and boards have great difficulty tracking a driver's behaviour. Whilst tracking driver behaviour is not a requirement of key wardens, modern key management methods enable and streamline this function and provide fleet managers with a range of indicators about driver behaviour. By making it easy for fleet managers to match up speeding fines to the driver, they are then able to identify poor/dangerous drivers. This provides them with the opportunity to proactively educate them, and address any negative behaviours.

Why track driver behaviour?

Key Management technologies can be leveraged to identify poor driver behaviour. Avoiding the follow-on costs of poor driver behaviour such as parking, speeding or other driver related fines by identifying the driver who was using the vehicle at the time. Smartrak’s KeyMaster key cabinet gives each driver a unique booking code and upon access to the cabinet a photo of the driver is captured allowing a verified match-up to the allocated driver. Through identification you can allocate the fine to the individual not the organisation. This drastically reduces operational fleet costs, as fines previously worn by the firm can now be more easily assigned to the appropriate driver. Fines can also be used to profile driver behaviour.

It will increase driver accountability

The KeyMaster key cabinet enables high-risk driver identification. With this fleet managers can provide tailored training to these drivers. This technology may also discourage drivers from acting in a reckless manner due to the ease with which they can be held accountable. Such modern systems will benefit both fleet management and drivers.

Smartrak is leading the modernisation of key management

Smartrak’s KeyMaster key cabinet and Keyless Entry solutions give you the ability to manage your fleet's keys and thereby your fleet. Adopting KeyMaster, Keyless Entry or both will enable you to meet and compete in the modernised fleet environment.

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