Across industries, a quiet revolution in how companies, employees, and consumers use vehicles is under way. A powerful combination of wireless Internet, GPS and other technologies now brings unprecedented levels of efficiency and convenience to vehicle operation. This combination is changing how consumers park, ride and even share vehicles. It is similarly transforming how companies manage their fleets of vehicles, as well as other assets ranging from employees’ time to supplies and materials. Combining technical advances in vehicle operation and management with similar advances in areas like supply chain management, warehouse management and e-procurement multiplies the benefits of all.
On the consumer side, most of the advances unsurprisingly have to do with smart phone use and an abundance of mobile apps. When drivers want to park their car, they can use apps to find empty spaces, pay for parking time electronically, and later find their way back to where the car is parked – all through taps on a smart phone screen. When driving across town, individuals can pick up strangers going in the same direction who have requested rides. Consumers can order rides in taxis, limousines or other commercial vehicles entirely through smart phones, eliminating the need to call a dispatcher or flag down a passing cab. And pay-per-use vehicle-sharing services let folks pick up cars where others left them, drive them around town to desired destinations, and leave them there for the next driver to pick up.
Efficiencies for the Commercial World
In the commercial world, automated fleet management and transportation management applications bring similar benefits. In particular, they let businesses use their vehicles more efficiently. This starts with purely driving-related advances like calculating the most efficient routes for the activities involved, and providing turn-by-turn driving directions. But it can also mean ensuring that vehicles are stocked with the necessary supplies for the day’s jobs. It may additionally involve notifying drivers and workers of new or changed work orders, and notifying customers of expected arrival times. Apps may also automatically transmit information about scheduled and completed work to and from a central database.
Systems providing these kinds of automated efficiencies can be useful to a broad variety of fleet operators. They may be especially helpful to businesses doing various types of installation or repair. These could range from communication providers, including cable and phone operators, to utility firms and even pest control companies.
From Janitorial Services to Grocery Delivery
They could also be attractive to companies offering onsite services, from janitorial and maid services to vending machine stocking and maintenance. Businesses simply delivering things – from coffee, water and groceries to parcels and packages – could similarly benefit from apps that streamline transportation management. Even organizations providing critical services, including first responders of all kinds, can benefit from new process tools enabled by GPS and mobile Internet access.
As noted, integration of such systems with other automated business process applications can multiply the payoff. Warehouse management and transportation management are obvious candidates. Integration of these sectors can ensure that supplies that vehicles and their drivers need to do their jobs are kept in stock, thus minimizing instances of either excess or insufficient stock.
Similarly, integrating e-procurement and invoice management systems can ensure that companies are getting the best deals on necessary goods and supplies, while making sure items are delivered and available at the right time. Finally, integration with asset management systems can help make the most cost-effective use of vehicles and other physical assets, by helping keep track of warranties, operational costs, maintenance, depreciation and other factors.