Would Like An Industry Expert's Take on the Most Recent Technological Developments and Transformations in Fleet Management, and How They Impact The Business Environment?
By James Dixon, General Manager - Transport, Road & Air, Australia Post
Technological innovation over the last decade has been enormous and has transformed the fleet industry, largely in response to changing customer demands driven by an always-on and connected consumer.
To the end-customer, visibility of their consignment is key. They want to know where their package is at all times when it will arrive, and they want to be able to re-route it in-flight to suit them.
GPS technology has been instrumental in providing customers with the increased visibility they demand. It’s commonplace and today - coupled with other digital advancements - gives fleet managers the ability to see where any vehicle is at any time. With the ability to visualize their entire fleet, managers can pro-actively re-route vehicles around traffic congestion, road closures, and even accidents. GPS technology also enables managers to better plan how and where they deploy their fleets to optimize their service. Perhaps most importantly, GPS gives customers the ability to track their item in real-time giving them more visibility and more control over their delivery. This means customers can change their delivery address while their parcel is in transit to suit their needs.
For road users and fleet teams, safety is paramount. Working in tandem with GPS is telematics, which is arguably the most powerful tool a fleet manager has at their disposal today. Telematics provides information on everything from acceleration and breaking patterns to distances travelled the types of roads traversed and driver behaviour. The data collected by telematics gives managers previously inaccessible insight into their fleet. At Australia Post, we’re using this data in the analysis of incidents and near misses retrospectively so that we can improve processes and support our number one priority - improving safety.
Tech advancements are also making huge headway in minimizing environmental issues -fleet managers across the world are investigating the use of electric vehicles to reduce environmental impacts. The challenge facing the fleet industry today is sourcing large e-vehicles that are fit for an operational purpose. The majority of vehicles available today are small and ideal for use as part of the last-mile fleet. Australia Post has had electric bicycles for some time and we’ve recently introduced the Kyburz DXP – a three-wheeled, electric vehicle - into our last-mile delivery fleet. These vehicles not only offer us an operational and environmental benefit but are also safer than the traditional postie motorcycle.
When choosing the appropriate last-mile delivery vehicle, it’s horses for courses. Terrain and distance present challenges to e-vehicles. Looking to the future, fully automated, driverless delivery vehicles and drones are becoming a foreseeable reality and are already being trialled. The prospect of fully automated vehicles and drones being used for delivery is incredibly exciting. It will unlock a whole new potential for 24/7 delivery and the ability to traverse many of the challenges in last-mile delivery such as reaching rural and remote areas.
For fleet managers, the opportunities are endless and new technology and increased automation will continue to revolutionize the industry. Managers must be prepared for constant disruption and not assume that what works for their customers today will work for them tomorrow. Customer expectations are changing and fleet managers must be prepared to continually adapt if they want to not only meet but exceed the expectations of their current and future customers.