Road freight fleet management systems generally consist of a number of telematic systems which use remote devices on both freight vehicles and trailers to control and monitor freight operations and present this data in a useable format to freight managers, either as real time data or static data. The effective use of these systems can lead to improvements in fleet efficiency and productivity via reductions in fleet mileage, operational costs and fuel consumption. In addition effective fleet management can lead to improvements in safety and a reduction in the environmental impact of freight fleets. To maximise the impact of road freight fleet management systems careful fuel management, driver training and training in the use of the freight fleet system should be seen as being essential. In a Good Practice Guide (341) issued by the Department for Transport (DfT) (2003) seven potential functions of fleet management systems were outlined. The full list is outlined below, but certain applications will suit different hauliers more depending upon the size of their fleets and the type of operations they carry out.
- Data on the performance of both drivers and vehicles;
- Vehicle tracking systems;
- Text messaging communication;
- Trailer tracking;
- Paperless manifest and proof of delivery;
- Traffic information and
- On-board navigation systems.
The impacts on key policy objectives and on problems will differ according to the features of the fleet management system in place. The main winners of the introduction of effective road freight fleet management will be freight hauliers and those receiving and forwarding freight consignments, though there will also be benefits for other road users and residents within urban areas who will benefit from a reduction in excess lorry miles, idling, safer driving styles and better maintained vehicles.
Text edited at the Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT