Manage pool vehicles smarter thanks to digital key management
Pool vehicles is enabling many companies to provide flexible mobility while maximizing utilization more cost-effectively. The challenges posed by a pool vehicle fleet are often of an analog nature: making vehicles available at whatever requested, documenting technical data, and handing over and taking back vehicles – not to mention what to do with car keys. To ensure a pool fleet’s smooth booking and sensible utilization involve considerable administrative and personnel effort.
The entire operation can be facilitated by the use of pool vehicle management software that includes digital key management, and you don’t have to wait until your carsharing fleet reaches a certain size. That’s because pool vehicle software, in one fell swoop, takes care of two of the most pressing problems of corporate carsharing: making vehicles available around the clock and verifying user access authorization. In this article, we will go over the key management options available and the ways they help you manage your pool fleet.
Key management in fleets – an overview of different methods of access
Manual key management for pool vehicles
Digital or analog? This is the question every carsharing fleet manager asks. What you choose depends on many factors. For instance, size of the fleet, use of vehicles and on-site conditions (e.g., a locked parking lot on company premises or an area with public access) play decisive roles on the decision to use either a manual or a digital solution.
Having an employee hand over keys can be a sensible way to ensure employee access to vehicles in the launch phase of a car pool or for small fleets: this method is economical and can often be conducted through short official channels. However, as the size of a fleet grows or the demand for an optimal, infallible key exchange method way rises, this option soon reaches its limit. Even semi-digital access modalities using Excel sheets or Outlook calendars are error-prone, time-consuming, confusing and, worst of all, easily manipulated. This last one is particularly consequential when it comes to vehicle damages.
Moreover, it is rarely possible to guarantee keys are handed over at the driver’s convenience, i.e., 24/7. This is one of the biggest shortcomings of pool fleets, whose model is sold on maximum flexibility.
Digital key management for pool vehicles
A digital key box is the ideal solution for optimized and cost-sensitive release of pool vehicles. It successfully and profitably replaces manual vehicle management for both companies and employees. In combination with an IT-based solution for vehicle pool management, keys are stored in a space-saving, secure and centralized manner on site of the vehicles; releases and returns are possible around the clock since the key box can only be accessed by authorized drivers.
The use of a key box is intuitive and convenient, enhancing acceptance by managers and employees alike, especially in the course of launching an automated fleet management system. Once a vehicle has been reserved on the website or app, users are assigned a PIN or use an RFID chip (e.g., on the company ID card) to open the key box in order to access the key needed. The intended key emits a light, signaling which key it is – no other keys are accessible to ensure maximum security. The process is completed when the vehicle key is returned to the key box.
Taking into account data protection and employee personal rights, the synergy between a pool vehicle software and digital key box can be further optimized, e.g., through the use of telematics. In addition to the distance traveled and the corresponding mileage – vital parameters for maintenance, leasing and insurance purposes – the software can also display fuel level and, for electric vehicles, battery charge level. For the latter, this is an essential criterion. Vehicles with a lower charge are made available for shorter trips while blocked for longer trips. In the event of an accident, the driver can report the damage via a mobile app, which in turn keeps the fleet manager in the loop.
If you don’t have the necessary infrastructure for an on-premise key box or wish to take greater advantage of digital alternatives, Carano offers a portable key box to be installed in vehicles. The flinkey box can be permanently, though reversibly, installed in all standard car models via the cigarette lighter; the key is removed for vehicle ignition. An integrated rechargeable battery lasts up to four weeks if left idle. The user accesses the vehicle via an app, after having been authenticated by the booking system. This is especially suitable if your fleet is scattered across several locations or location-independent.
A key box and the corresponding app mean administrative and personnel efforts required for fleet management are reduced to a fraction, while the plug-and-play solution is easy to install and compatible with most web-based fleet solutions. You achieve maximum control and security with less effort, better utilization as well as transparency to users and complete flexibility. Another advantage of this digital vehicle opening method: theft insurance is included in the price of the package.
Pool vehicles offer flexible mobility while fleet management should also be adaptable and, above all, easy to use. A digital solution not only offers security thanks to precise documentation but, by eliminating the need for personnel, also significant cost savings. In addition to the many other tasks that fleet managers are juggling, it is vehicle provisioning’s time-consuming and error-prone issues that call for efficiency and cost-efficacy. Topics like safety, control and utilization are important subjects a digital solution can effortlessly handle.