The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all industries, including sectoral leaders, to take a relook at their business strategies and priorities.
While all sectors bore the brunt of lockdown-led disruptions, sectors like transportation have handled the crisis in a relatively better way. Transportation, as the lifeline of an economy, provided unparalleled support and last-mile connectivity to ensure not a single human being goes without the supply of essential commodities during the peak of the crisis.
This blog is your one-stop destination for finding out the secret recipe of the fleet management sector’s success during the COVID-19 pandemic, what it means for the US economy, and the things you need to ensure to make your business future-ready.
The Impact of COVID-19 on the Fleet Management Sector
COVID-19 has affected the fleet management sector in more than one way possible. The federal administration has been quick to jump to the scene and take steps to offer relief to the fleet industry. Take a look at the key things that had an impact on the fleet management sector.
1. Shift in Consumer Trends
If there is one industry that got overloaded during the outbreak, it’s the healthcare industry. Not only they cater to more patients than normal, but multiple regulations and social distancing norms have also forced them to offer services like teleconsultation and virtual visits. Transportation of essential goods has made the role of the fleet sector more important than ever before; at the same time, fleet managers are ensuring that their prime assets, the drivers, remain safe while ensuring last-mile connectivity.
The second sector that has benefited the most is the delivery business. Amazon is an example in hand. It registered 26% more sales in the first quarter of 2020 than it had clocked in the first quarter of 2019, despite spending about US$4 billion in COVID-19 related expenses.
While COVID-19 may become less severe, US customer trends are going to remain more or less the same in years to come. As consumer preferences change, businesses that matter is scaling up their fleet operations with an integrated fleet management solution like Samsara. An integrated fleet management solution, loaded with cellular gateways, car dash cam, wireless sensors, driver app, trailer tracking, real-time routing, and compliance features are changing the way businesses approach safety and point to point contactless delivery.
2. Decoding Oil Price and Its Impact
Ever since COVID-19 started rearing its ugly head in China, supply chain disruptions have been plaguing the US fleet management industry in various forms. As demand plummets, so do oil prices. In the process, history was created as US oil prices entered the negative territory on April 20, 2020.
Although falling fuel prices have somewhat cushioned the shock of fall in demand across the table, some trucking companies used this as an opportunity to enrich their fleet with modern technology.
The best way the fleet management sector is keeping up with the challenge posed by the dwindling business is by increasing its fleet’s operational efficiency and decreasing vehicle downtime. Fleet maintenance solutions are aiding the transformation more than ever before. As almost every trucking business is working at reduced capacity, the vehicles in their fleet are more exposed to maintenance issues, which can have serious repercussions on operational efficiency when things return to normalcy.
The fleet management sector is laying more emphasis on a comprehensive fleet management solution, as it helps them to spot maintenance issues like battery failure, engine malfunction, fuel usage, idle time, IFTA mileage, and many more, just at the right time. The increased convenience in identifying mechanical defects helps the fleet management sector to deploy contingency resources to the need. This ensures they are ready to take up opportunities that come across their ways.
3. Hours of Service and Other Exemptions
The US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has made it mandatory for the fleet to install Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) to monitor Hours of Service (HOS) of drivers. A quick search on what is ELD would clarify all your queries regarding ELD and HOS.
In the first half of March 2020, the FMCSA issued an emergency declaration in which it provided certain regulatory relief in terms of HOS to registered commercial drivers. It further extended the HOS waiver until mid-July after holding high-level meetings with all stakeholders. Direct beneficiaries of the FMCSA HOS waiver include carriers transporting medical equipment, sanitization goods, paper products, food, fuel, and other essential commodities.
The FMCSA regulations state that most of the HOS regulations will not apply to drivers of fleet engaged in the transportation of emergency relief materials. The regulations also include relaxations in sleeper berth provisions. However, to ensure drivers are not overburdened, they will require to take mandatory rest of ten hours after delivering a consignment.
The federal administration has also shown promptness in handling the crisis by postponing the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) conducted International Roadcheck. Moreover, CDC travel and quarantine rules and advisories do not apply to the fleet management sector. There are additional relaxations in place for drivers with expired licenses, permits, or medical cards.
During these troubled times, many trucking companies are relying on IoT-aided telematics solutions like Samsara to enhance their fleet’s safety, reduce operational costs, and optimize fleet performance. As COVID-19 redefined timely shipping, advanced real-time telematics solutions are critical to maintaining competence.
How Does The Future Look Like?
Now that you know how the fleet management sector is dealing with the challenges posed by COVID-19 let’s take a brief tour of what the future has in store for the trucking industry.
1. Social Distancing
Social distancing will become the norm of the day. With the end of COVID-19 nowhere in sight, businesses have to inculcate the habit of living with it. Follow guidelines as laid out by the authorities from time to time and keep a contingency plan handy.
2. Optimize Fuel Usage
The COVID-19 pandemic led to WTI crude entering the negative territory. But, as the lockdown restrictions started easing, crude is showing signs of recovery. The best way to increase profit at this stage is by equipping your fleet with a next-generation AI-enabled fleet management solution, which can reduce fuel costs and maximize fleet efficiency.
3. Coach Drivers
The drivers help your fleet reach the customers. Taking care of them should be the theme of the hour. A telematics solution that comes equipped with a driver app can make your drivers stay connected to you, and you can use the technology to reduce downtime and enhance fleet safety.
The COVID-19 pandemic has restructured existing notions. Keep an eye on Samsara’s up to date blogs to lead your organization with innovations that come your way in the post-COVID era.