Specialty vehicles: Uncover greater efficiencies through fleet management optimization

According to the “Specialty Vehicle Market – Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecast (2022 – 2027) report”, the specialty vehicle market was valued at around USD 96.81 billion in 2021, and it is likely to reach USD 116.8 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 3.16% during the forecast period (2022-2027).

Today, vehicles that were designed to serve a professional purpose include more than just school buses, ambulances, and police vehicles. Specialty vehicles as an industry now comprise everything from special-purpose drones and ATVs to mobile clinics.

With fleet management evolving to include necessary activities such as compliance, driver management, operational efficiency, and environmental impact, managing a fleet of specialty vehicles requires increasing and diligent attention.

Efficient fleet management is vital to control costs and ensure that the fleet is operating in adherence to the parameters set by regulatory bodies and, more than anything else, is operated at maximum levels of safety.

A company’s specialty fleet can comprise numerous vehicles and equipment types. This can make managing a fleet incredibly challenging.

Special vehicle fleet management challenges

Specialty vehicle fleet management challenges
  1. Accident management and fleet safety

Whether it is distracted driving, reckless driving habits, or honest human error, driver safety is a common challenge that companies face when managing a fleet of vehicles. It is essential for an organization to keep records relating to the driver of a vehicle. These details could be legal requirements: is the user allowed to operate the vehicle– do they have an up-to-date certificate or license? It could also be information about the vehicle itself such as insurance papers and maintenance reports.

Keeping driver records will help to show maintenance of duty of care should the vehicle be involved in a serious accident. Basic information such as who was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident – particularly important for ‘pool vehicles’ – will be one of the first things that the authorities will want to know.

2. Vehicle maintenance and lifetime costs

Maintaining asset reliability is at the core of effective fleet management.  Servicing a fleet of vehicles of necessity costs, your money, but it can also affect your company’s revenue if the vehicles are not well maintained. Vehicle maintenance, particularly when unplanned, can substantially impact delivery times to customers, and the productivity of the entire fleet. This could lead to poor client relationships, lost business, and worst of all, a damaged brand reputation.

Vehicles need to be maintained in good and safe condition especially since specialty vehicles can be prone to wear and tear when on the job. In addition to the manufacturer’s recommended routine maintenance schedule, arrangements should be made for vehicles to be inspected at appropriate intervals to determine the condition of those parts that contribute significantly to their safe operation.

Accumulating vehicle operation statistics, tracked through connected sensors and telemetry, provides machine learning and artificial intelligence tools the data they need to predict part and components failure and so enable a preventive maintenance plan.

Businesses must also consider the many elements that make up the ‘lifetime cost’ of operating a specialty vehicle. This starts with the initial purchase and then continues until the vehicle is disposed of at the end of its lifetime and includes all costs incurred in its operation – depreciation charges, insurance costs, and the cost of disposal to name just several

3. Excessive administrative tasks

Although many businesses manage their fleets using systems, they are oftentimes not integrated. With route planning, maintenance details, driver records, and compliance documents to manage, which may be in multiple systems, administrative processes can become sluggish and increase operating costs.

These administrative tasks can be better managed using a cloud-based fleet management software that provides a more holistic method to manage fleets, empowering managers with complete visibility of their daily fleet operations as well as simplifying and automating day-to-day tasks.

It streamlines administrative processes, consolidates data to generate reports, and enhances inter-departmental and supply chain communication.

4. Route optimization

Determining the best time-saving and cost-effective route requires a lot of strategic planning. Businesses must also juggle the availability of a vehicle with the driver’s scheduling. Then there are anomalies such as traffic conditions, weather, and accidents that require rerouting.

In most specialty vehicle businesses, however, rerouting and stops are part of the business such as with school buses, mobile clinics, and logistic vans. A properly strategized route optimization can reduce fuel consumption, profoundly simplify fleet operations, and increase the driver’s productivity.

5. Vehicle downtime

Vehicles can experience downtime that is either planned or unplanned. A vehicle scheduled for maintenance or periodic checks falls under planned downtime and typically does not interrupt the flow of the business. Unplanned downtime is an unscheduled or sudden interruption in the productivity or use of the vehicle due to breakdowns or accidents.

If the vehicle downtime is not planned properly, the downtime will not just halt productivity while the vehicle gets serviced but can also be a major resource drain as it increases costs that create a ripple effect on the rest of the fleet and the company’s revenue.

Related reading: Specialty Fleets: Challenges Faced in Electrification

How fleet management is evolving

Disruptive technologies have proven to be game changers for specialty vehicle fleets. Through cloud-enabling digitization, automation, and advanced analytics with the use of artificial intelligence, IoT technologies, and machine learning, business processes are now intensified.

This has resulted in a new world of benefits for specialty vehicle fleets with them becoming more connected and safer than ever before. However, as fleets increase in size and widen in vehicle types, businesses must be on top of their game to ensure they optimize their fleet efficiently.

And with fleet management of specialty vehicles continuing to evolve with electrification, digital transformation, connected vehicles, and more, businesses are turning to fleet management software to support their fleet management operational needs.

Effectively manage your fleet with Annata

From enhancing operational efficiencies to real-time fleet management, Annata offers a comprehensive cloud-based suite of solutions to support specialty vehicle businesses, enabling them to uncover a world of opportunities through disruptive business models and new revenue streams.

The Annata 365 Fleet Management software was engineered specifically to meet the demands of contract hire and fleet management businesses, enabling them to connect, configure, and customize fleets seamlessly in one unified platform.

Built within Microsoft Dynamics 365 and delivering best practices from Annata’s years of industry experience, the cloud-based solution monitors the lifecycle of a company’s entire fleet—from the day a vehicle is purchased until it is recycled.

Key highlights of Annata's fleet management solution For further information on Annata’s solution for fleet management, download the brochure here. Discover more about how Annata can support your specialty vehicle business by contacting us today.

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