How Corona has affected fleet management
For some weeks now, life for a large proportion of people in Germany, both business and personal, has been anything but everyday: no more eating out at restaurants, leisure activities cancelled, instead of the morning drive to the office, many are working from home. The coronavirus and the resulting pulmonary disease COVID-19 have brought almost all areas of society, including many industries to a swift standstill. The vehicle fleet industry is also facing huge challenges and will have to in many ways reorient itself in the post-coronavirus period.
How this “morning after” will play out can only be guessed at; some sectors will be harder hit than others and some effects will not be felt until some months down the line. Nevertheless, we would like to sketch out some approaches the fleet industry can take to make its way out of the crisis.
Fleet managers doing a rethink – Coronavirus and the fleet industry
What the crisis has made clear to us is that the well-being of an individual has a great impact on the community, and despite all the economic advances in a company, this should not be forgotten.
Even before the official mandate banning contact and calling for a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between people in public places, many companies were already halting business trips and placing employees on either reduced work hours or remote work. As a result, many fleets are currently sitting idle. Although there is political resolve to revive public life, and therewith economic output, albeit a bit at a time, this will be anything but pre-crisis normality.
Fleet managers are now facing the challenge of rethinking and re-establishing existing processes. This will be the issue of the day – digitalization, which all the industries are moving toward at lightning speed. What the big players are already doing in part will now also play out in many medium-sized and small fleets in the coming years. And fleet managers are now forced to do a hard rethink: what used to be done manually is unthinkable now.
Whether it is the procurement of company cars, organization of vehicles for drivers or arranging dates for accident prevention driver instruction, or claims management with subsequent coordination of repair and maintenance orders – all these processes, some of which are complicated, will have to be even more digitally mapped out and linked up in this new era. Edtech platforms that convey information without the need for personal contact are more in demand than ever in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Schools are leading the way: the classroom of tomorrow is not a physical but a digital realm, and the same applies to fleet management in the coming years. In times of inevitable social (self-)isolation, a digital learning platform is the tool of the hour.
Digital solutions also offer security in the vehicle fleet
The future lies in digital solutions that enable networked and, simultaneously, location-independent working. Platforms on which all parties involved have access to the data they need are becoming ever more important.
Remote work is already commonplace today and will become even more so for fleet operators in the future. In many cases, a fleet manager’s physical presence will no longer be strictly necessary as arrangements and appointment coordination take place on digital platforms. To this end, location-independent software solutions that link up people for daily work will be more in demand than ever. Most importantly is the need for a web interface which allows or denies access to the transference of information based on authorization structures supporting and simplifying intricate fleet processes.
The contents of the accident prevention driver instruction in Carano are customizable. This allows fleet managers to react flexibly to, for example, new safety precautions and integrate and retrieve vital information and instructions on additional hygiene measures for drivers using pool vehicles. The digital instruction can be carried out hassle-free while working from home and offers fleet managers a simple and safe solution to meet respondeat superior obligations even amidst the crisis.
Our other cloud modules also have the advantage of making access from anywhere possible. For example, mandatory driver’s license checks can be carried out whilst on the road via an app, without requiring a great deal of organizational and financial output, since even during the coronavirus crisis, fleet managers are still required to comply with respondeat superior liability obligations. Legal experts recommend driver’s license checks be carried out every six months. Companies with pool vehicles and a changing roster of users have to make sure drivers show their driving license before each trip. The electronic driver’s license check simplifies this process many times over. An NFC chip attached to the driver’s license allows the check to be done remotely. The fleet manager is informed of the result and all data is stored in the system in a tamper-proof manner. Driver’s licenses are required to be checked digitally and in a timely manner, even if this means having to send staff to remote locations to carry this out. The fleet manager maintains a constant overview of the checked status of the drivers and receives automatic reminders.
Carsharing in times of crisis
Amidst the coronavirus crisis, sharing vehicles have suddenly become a challenge. Carsharing providers have observed a slight decline in the number of daily trips. Nevertheless, services of this kind are still much in demand in the private sector, for example, to avoid traveling in crowded public transport. For companies that have pool vehicles integrated into their vehicle fleet, there is also the need for action, in terms of the cleaning processes and training drivers who utilize the pool vehicles. Especially now, but also during periodic peak times of other infectious diseases like the seasonal flu, every fleet manager and driver should ensure vehicles are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Appropriate hygiene training reviews can be saved as customizable learning content in Carano software, as well as appointments for regular vehicle cleaning, so as to eliminate the health risk of shared vehicles.
What does the coronavirus pandemic mean for the fleet industry?
Like with many other economic sectors, the coronavirus crisis will cleave the fleet industry into a before and after, revealing weaknesses that must now be remedied with even greater urgency. Even if it sounds presumptuous at this point in time, this situation, even with all its disruptions and adversities, can be seen as an opportunity for new technologies and software systems opportunities for widespread and far-reaching implementation.
This doesn’t mean the management of a vehicle fleet can and will take place in the future without personal contact. On the contrary – onsite coordination will continue to play an integral role, but these meetings will be devoted more to strategic planning than to day-to-day business.