Mapping fleet and asset management’s future

Mapping fleet and asset management’s future

The fleet and asset management industry holds great promise. Commercial vehicle fleets still account for roughly 75 percent of all inland transports in Europe, which translates into a €250 billion industry. Fleet telematics technologies have proven reliable in reducing costs and increasing efficiency.

What’s more, environmental issues have made the idea of vehicle-based systems that curb CO2 emissions highly attractive to fleet managers. The number of fleet management systems in active use is forecasted to grow at an annual rate of 21 percent through 2013.

“In times of increasing environmental protection and cost savings, long-term investments in telematics pay off more then ever,” says Markus Lipinsky, managing director of Daimler FleetBoard. “We think that the telematics branch will grow much more in Europe.”

Jos Kagenaar, director of business development at TNT Innight, is also optimistic. “The night express market will continue to grow, driven by congestion of the major roads as well as city centers during the day,” he says. “More and more sector specific multi-customer solutions will be offered by the service providers active in the night express market.”

Future challenges

Nonetheless, the fleet and asset management industry faces several serious challenges. For one, the recession has shrunk many fleet managers’ working capital, making them less likely to adopt a new management system. Likewise, the downturn has hindered investment in fleet telematics, which industry experts project will lead to a further decrease in the adoption of such technologies.

Additionally, insurance telematics, once hailed as the industry’s financial savior, has proven more complicated than expected, and it remains to be seen exactly how insurance companies will incorporate telematics into their plans or what they need from telematics companies to do so.

Thus, it’s imperative for companies that want to survive in this space to come up with a strategy to negotiate the challenges and maximize the opportunities.

Focusing on customer value

One key will be clearly identifying and emphasizing customer value. A wide range of international companies compete in the European fleet and asset management space: Masternaut from France; Daimler FleetBoard from Germany; Transics and Punch Telematics from Belgium; Cybit, Minorplanet, Navman Wireless, and Trafficmaster from the UK; then GE and Qualcomm; plus navigation vendors like Garmin and TomTom and truck manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, and Scania.

With such a glut of good options, it’s critical for a company to set itself apart by clearly demonstrating its value to the customer.

“Using FleetBoard, our customers decreased 2009 CO2 emissions by about 174,000 tons and reap the benefits month after month,” says Lipinsky. “New customers report on average 7 percent fuel savings within the first three months after implementing FleetBoard. Our longstanding FleetBoard customers see the savings distinctly on repair and maintenance costs.” Additional differentiators, like vehicle wear, reduced vehicle damage, and increased security, will help a company tap into growth.

Integrated solutions

Another key will be integrating solutions. Additional integration can increase end-to-end capacity and enable seamless and transparent supply chains to win over end-users. Some companies are considering super-advanced Fleet ICT services, which entail cooperation at all levels of the value chain to optimize the end-user’s experience.

Kagenaar of TNT Innight says increased integration—like investing in route optimization software that connects in real time with in-car devices to mitigate costs, traffic, and CO2 emissions—can help keep a company ahead of the curve. “Continuous investment is the key,” he says. “More than ever it will pay out at the end of the day.”

New technologies

Yet another key will be embracing new technologies as it becomes clear which latest cutting-edge advances customers expect. Smart technologies, fleet ICT technologies, and open platform technology are just a few of the many that may prove essential.

Indeed, adopting technological advances can increase the uptake of a company’s solutions and reveal how that company can maintain a competitive edge. Kagenaar says that TNT Innight regularly considers new systems—like near-field RFID technology and SMS-messaging triggered by GPS/SPRS scanners—to stay prepared for future challenges.

“We overcome the challenges by continuously investing and by continuously discussing the opportunities with our customers in order to make sure we meet their demands,” he says.

To read an interview with Markus Lipinsky, managing director of Daimler FleetBoard, click here.

Fleet & Asset Management Europe 2010

Kegenaar, Lipinsky, and a host of other industry experts and leaders will gather to discuss these issues and many more at the Fleet & Asset Management Europe 2010 conference, on February 23 and 24 in Amsterdam. To learn more about the conference, or to buy tickets, visit the conference website here.

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