Fleet News

***Special Report*** Prepare now for the internet fleet management explosion

FORWARD-looking fleet managers should be gearing up to use the internet with the next generation of 'net enabled' software. Lease Plan launched its Fleet News Award-winning Lease Plan On-Line internet-based fleet management system last year and PHH Vehicle Management will soon introduce its InterActive system which has been on trial with a handful of UK fleets.

A raft of new internet solutions are set to hit the market in the coming months, putting high tech fleet management systems within reach of even the smallest fleets.

Ashley Sowerby, managing director of Chevin Computer Systems, foresees a 'brave new world' where fleet managers may within months be freed from much of the mundane grind of feeding data into computers - while allowing others in their organisations far greater access to the information they need. The benefits will include:

    Vehicle users being able to feed their own mileage and fuel logs into centralised computer systems while on the road.

    Fleet managers having access to essential data anywhere in the world.

    Managers and directors at pre-set levels being able to generate their own reports - saving fleet managers time.

    Virtually instant on-site support from software providers and far less likelihood of computer crashes.

Sowerby said: Forward-looking fleet managers should now be gearing up for the next generation of 'net enabled' fleet software, as it's going to streamline their operations beyond recognition. Being able to access and work with data anywhere as they move around the country, instead of it being restricted to 'the office', will increase efficiency enormously.'

Sowerby anticipates a huge reduction in the administrative burden as selective users will be able to produce their own reports, instead of tying up the fleet department.

With internet-based software systems enabling major changes to be made in the way most companies work, Sowerby claimed: 'Many fleets currently using outside fleet management firms may find they no longer need such extra support, as many of the report generation functions they currently count on from such companies will be done for them - over the internet.

'It may also make a difference to the way such software is charged for. With centralised 'networked' systems, software companies like ourselves could even end up charging fleets for having their data stored and managed on a monthly basis, instead of them needing to buy software outright, as at present.'

Car Fleet Control has made a £500,000 investment in a new database toolset that will form the bedrock for a new generation of internet-based fleet management products. FRX is the name of the new toolset - the result of more than 18 months work by the Car Fleet Control programming team.

It is designed to open up the internet to become a practical everyday tool for fleet managers that delivers real benefits in cost and efficiency.

Car Fleet Control director Jason Francis said: 'The future of fleet management software is in systems that are accessible through intranets to a whole organisation. For example, it may not be just the fleet department in a company that wants mileage information about drivers but also the accounts and human resources functions. The

driver also wants to register his or her mileage.

'What FRX allows us to do is to open up mileage and other related information to everyone in an organisation who is authorised to view and manipulate the data. It makes fleet management software a less centralised tool but one that is usable locally across long

distances and different sites.'

The FRX toolkit has already been put to use in a number of industry websites developed for organisations looking to enhance their internet

solutions provided by Car Fleet Control.

Francis said: 'The possibilities the technology represents are very exciting. In the future, we expect to see drivers registering their mileage and filling in accident forms from their mobile phones or vehicle-based Internet systems. The levels of control available to managers will be very high.'

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