Fleet Management Flawed

In the recent years it has been evident that businesses in Singapore has increased their reliance on vehicle as a tool of trade. This, of course is being led by the eCommerce boom where last mile deliveries are in demand to fulfill orders. We also remember the ongoing disruption of our land transport system where third party apps like UBER and GRAB went on a buying spree of passenger vehicles. What is most noticeable is the double digit percentage growth of vehicle rental companies now compared to the early 2000s. It is apparent that the consolidation of vehicle ownership has increased tremendously and probably with the government's announcement in October 2017 on zero growth rate of vehicles, we will probably see a more drastic reduction of individual owners in the near future.

With more fleet owners in Singapore and the overly regulated motor vehicle regulations, what would it be for these businesses and their fleet of vehicles? It's no easy feat i must say. Locally, one common trend i can see is the increased in demand for Fleet Operations or Fleet Management employment positions by Vehicle Rental /Leasing, Logistics or the Construction industry. From the other side of the fence, i do notice more companies who are riding on the technology trend of software and telematics; they term themselves as Fleet Management companies. This sum up to a whole new industry where issues are addressed superficially and the lack of in depth knowledge could flaw the whole term of ‘Fleet Management’.

Fleet management in Singapore has flawed this beautiful term. I refer to big corporations in the western side of the globe e.g., element fleet. The key feature in Fleet management is the active management of the entire life cycle of the vehicle and to optimize the use of the whole fleet. The diagram (below) with reference to how Fleet management is practiced by a government related organisation in the US shows the depth of its practices.

While it is unfair to compare in context, there are some key points that a Fleet Management company should offer.

  1. Acquisition

  2. Asset management and utilization policies

  3. Maintenance of vehicle – preventive, corrective and predictive

  4. Compliance to standards and requirements

  5. Utilization of vehicle and driver management

  6. Cost management

  7. Disposal

The above mentioned areas are the key to unlock the new fleet management culture. While it may seem too much to handle, there are 3 aspects that is required for a fleet owner to adopt to empower the business through fleet management. Firstly is the in depth knowledge or I may call it the ‘Art of Fleet Management’. ‘Art’ is acquired by experience and learning, Fleet Managers should understand key concepts of this subject and the know hows of implementing a proper policy with a strict regime. Secondly, is to use technology and platforms to help you in the aspect of managing the fleet. Data analytics has to be used to understand how your assets are utilized, how it should be serviced and of course to manage the exceptions. This will heavily reduce the intensity on your day to day operations and support sound decisions where cost is involved. Lastly, and most importantly is to integrate the art of fleet management and technology to determine the most desirable outcome for the business. Every vehicle is utilized differently and its cost outlay for repairs may differ from each period. Using tacit knowledge which is justified by data will greatly help to avoid making costly errors.

The stigma of fleet management still surrounds either purchase of a fleet, maintenance repairs or probably just the software. However, these are only bite sized processes or tools of the entire cycle. Singapore is a dynamic city with much in store for the growing fleet. While managing vehicles may sound too technical, a personal view is to make sense out of the decisions that has to be made. Technicalities should still be handled by the experts. As a business owner, sometimes there are just too much to handle and with such high capital investments in your fleet of vehicles, sometimes outsourcing could be the best solution. Focus on the business.

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