– By Caroline Falls –
In an age when data is king, it was alarming to hear the results of a survey of fleet managers showing many are not getting the benefits of the incredible opportunities of technology to do simple tasks such as notify when a vehicle service or registration is due.
The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia’s fleet unit conducted a survey designed to better understand how and what fleet management information systems are being used among members, ostensibly people engaged in public sectors, such as local and state government fleet management positions.
Rob Wilson, head of the fleet unit at IPWEA said some 148 surveys were issued. “It was the first time we have conducted a survey specifically on fleet management information systems,” said Wilson, adding. “We wanted to discuss what level of fleet management they were getting and what systems they were using.” Wilson talked to Fleet Auto News on the sidelines of an IPWEA fleet workshop in Casino, northern NSW, in October.
Ross Moody, former director of the IPWEA fleet unit and who presented results from the survey at the Casino workshop, said as many as 50 percent of the respondents were relying on vehicle operators to notify when a service is due.
“That’s high risk,” said Moody. “I know of an organisation where a driver didn’t bring a vehicle in for a service until it had done 80k.”
Predicting services is really important, said Moody, yet some 42 percent of respondents said the systems they were using didn’t have that capability. About nine percent of respondents were using predominantly spreadsheet-based systems.
Many systems didn’t enable whole-of-life costs to be calculated. “That is a surprise,” said Moody. “Whole-of-life costs are critical. How do you come up with a hire rate if you don’t know your whole-of-life costs?”
Part of the problem in this particular cohort stems from organisation own-rules such as not allowing a variety of IT systems, or stand-alone systems such as those built specifically and only to suit fleet and asset management.
“More than one third of respondents are not allowed to use a stand-alone system,” said Moody. “IT insist on enterprise-wide systems. Finance autocrats also have requirements which frustrate fleet people.”
One of the workshop participants, a member of a local government fleet unit, said that questions about fleet management information systems being incorporated at his council had been talked about ever since he’s been involved in fleet. “The answer doesn’t seem to ever get any better. I think private enterprise would be shocked to keep getting that answer. It’s not good enough.”