Vehicle fleet management can be a simple or complex working process depending on the number and diversity of vehicles and the intensity of their use.
Fleet management can be broken down into five basic components:
Following this logic, vehicle fleet management can also be looked at as several work streams that are simultaneously executed by one or several people.
- Managing Vehicles - Ensuring vehicles are available and fit for purpose, performing regular checks, maintenance and repairs, administrative clearances, etc.
- Managing Drivers - Ensuring drivers are available and fit for purpose, organising the roster, providing training, sharing relevant information, obtaining medical clearance, etc.
- Managing Users - Ensuring that the users can access the fleet services in a timely and safe manner. This includes understanding user needs and dealing with requests, allocating the pertinent resources, providing the required information for the movement to be duly accomplished and collecting feedback on the service provision.
- Managing Movements - Ensuring that movements are achieved satisfactorily, organising movements according to the needs expressed by users, monitoring of movements to ensure they are performed according to the plan, and ensuring standard working and security procedures.
- Monitoring Workflows- individually and as a whole (fleet) - ensuring due performance, proper balance and adjusting when required. Overuse of resources and mechanical failure, burnout of drivers and bad behaviour, or discontent among the passengers are typical symptoms of fleet dysfunctions that should be addressed.
Fleet Management Functions
Managing fleet and workflows can help define a typical set of roles and responsibilities for different parties. Combining or dividing tasks between one or several profiles will depend on the scale of the fleet, the intensity of its use and the given operational context. In a field office with a fleet of 1 to 6 vehicles and an outsourced garage, one single person could supervise all workflows and a team of 6 to 8 drivers. If the number of vehicles and drivers is significantly larger or the mechanical garage used to service the vehicles is self-managed by the agency, new and specialised profiles could be added to the team.
Typical roles and responsibilities in vehicle fleet management might include:
Drivers are in charge of transporting goods and passengers in the organisation’s vehicles, ensuring its technical and safety conditions and respecting the country’s traffic rules and the organisation’s working and security procedures to provide a safe, smooth and efficient service.
To achieve this, he/she should perform the assigned vehicle regular checks, ensure that all vehicle documents and driving licenses are valid and available in the vehicle, refilling the fuel tank when necessary and ensure correct loading and unloading of the vehicle.
In addition, he/she is in charge of informing agency management of any incidents involving the transportation of passengers or goods and should know how to use all types of required equipment, for communication (telephones, satellite phones or radios), safety (first aid kit and fire-extinguisher), recovery of the vehicle and to perform basic repairs and maintenance (changing tires, checking tire pressure, etc.).
The head driver is a specific profile employed when a significant number of drivers are used in a given fleet. The head driver can sometimes take over many of the duties normally ascribed to a fleet manager, provided the working arrangements make sense. The head driver coordinates the team of drivers, preparing and overseeing their work: regular checks of vehicles, vehicle inventory, refilling, etc. He/she is in charge of reporting any problems with the vehicles as well as ensuring maintenance on the fleet of vehicles and that cars are serviced at the desired time to ensure good use of it and to deliver services.
In addition, the head driver organises training courses for drivers, conducts driving tests for all new drivers and performs regular drivers’ assessments.
The head driver can also be in charge of the allocation of vehicles according to the availability of drivers, the preparation of rosters and replacements in case of absence. He/she can be also involved in some monitoring tasks such as monthly reports on services, repairs and fuel consumption of each vehicle.
A mechanic performs the necessary servicing, maintenance and repair of vehicles (and other engines as generators) to ensure that they are in usable running conditions. He/she also briefs and train the team of drivers regarding vehicle services and maintenance.
A mechanic is strongly advised when agencies are running a self-owned mechanical workshop, however mechanics can be employed to also conduct repairs and maintenance on vehicles in a variety of contexts. The mechanic is responsible of the equipment and tools in the garage, checking they are correctly and safely used, maintaining and renewing them when necessary and keeping the inventory updated. Although the mechanic can manage a stock of some basic consumable items, it is not advised that he/she manages the stock of spare parts - this would hinder accountability and goes against the basic division of supply chain responsibilities.
The mechanic can also support the evaluation of external workshops for eventual sub-contracting as well as checking light and heavy vehicles before its rental.
An intermediary solution commonly used when a full-time mechanic is not required, is combining the role of driver and mechanic, allocating a number of (full) days for mechanic duties.
The movement manager ensures that all movements are organised and implemented. He/she gathers regular and ad-hoc movement requests and assigns available resources accordingly (vehicle, driver and communications equipment when necessary), informing the relevant people about the movement plan and any change on schedules.
In addition, he/she monitors and registers any movement, of people, vehicles and cargo, ensuring its implementation under the established working and security procedures: departure, arrival, number of passengers, route taken, standard contact points, etc. He/she should inform of any delay or incident reported by any of the on-route vehicles.
The fleet manager is the overall supervisor of the fleet. He/she should elaborate and implement strategies to guarantee the adequacy of the fleet. This includes development and review of the annual plan and budget for maintenance, renewal and scale up when necessary and planning and supervising the human resources to ensure both the sizing and the necessary knowledge and competencies. Depending on the size of the organisation and the vehicle needs, the fleet manager may assume the duties of the movement manager and head driver, or may choose to employ separate distinct job profiles to help manage a wider set of tasks in larger operations.
The Fleet manager should monitor the fleet performance and support decision taking with regular reports. He/she should also advise on fleet related topics such as vehicle insurance, type and frequency of maintenance, evaluations of all the hired vehicles and transport companies, drawing up the necessary contracts.
In addition, and if applicable, the fleet manager should define the order for spare parts, and assess and identify potential local providers.
The Fleet Management Cycle
Fleet management can be looked at as a sequential set of steps. This overview is especially advisable when the scale of a fleet is large and when an agency owns of most of the fleet related assets and services.