Can Fleet Management Tech Reduce Operating Costs?

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IRONPROS: What are the most costly aspects of operating a construction fleet?

Panasonic Connect: The cost associated with operating and maintaining a construction fleet is substantial. From initial acquisition to disposal, the equipment lifecycle involves several stages, each contributing to the overall expenses associated with fleet ownership and management.

A big part of managing a vehicle fleet is dealing with unexpected breakdowns in the field and ensuring that workers stay productive. Unplanned repairs can greatly increase costs due to equipment downtime and the expense of parts and services. Unexpected breakdowns can mean lost productivity, project delays and substantial monetary losses. Mobile computers with diagnostic and repair tools can help avoid downtime and get vehicles back on the road quicker or functioning again on the construction site.

Preventive and corrective maintenance are routine expenses required to keep equipment serviceable, ensure its longevity and save costs in the long-term.  As equipment ages, modifications and upgrades may also be necessary to maximize productivity. These are incremental investments that equipment owners and fleet managers must factor into their long-term budgeting plans.

IRONPROS: What are the challenges of adopting new fleet technology? 

Panasonic Connect: Technology continues to evolve quickly and businesses must adopt new solutions and management practices to capitalize on emerging opportunities and maintain a competitive edge.

The fleet management sector is projected to grow over the coming years. While this is encouraging, change is hard. Adopting new fleet technology presents several challenges, including high initial costs, training requirements, infrastructure limitations, integration obstacles, safety and the organization’s culture toward change.

Overcoming these challenges requires a comprehensive and proactive approach. This includes strategic planning to align technology with business goals, budgeting for costs and resources, workforce training, infrastructure upgrades and implementing effective change management practices.

IRONPROS: How does using fleet management technology translate to cost savings for businesses in the construction industry? 

Panasonic Connect: Fleet management solutions help streamline operations. Telematics systems are a good example of how modern fleet technology can provide critical information to help businesses optimize their operations, minimize risk, reduce costs and enhance maintenance services. From fuel usage to tailpipe emissions, telematics gives decision makers real-time, actionable insights that can lead to greater efficiency, sustainability and productivity in fleet operations.  

Additionally, telematics facilitate proactive maintenance scheduling based on actual vehicle usage, which extends equipment lifespans and prevents costly breakdowns. Real-time tracking of equipment usage ensures that assets are utilized efficiently, maximizing the return on investment and reducing idle time. All of which contribute to a healthier bottom line.

When we talk about fleet technology, conversations have primarily centered on maintenance management. However, we can’t forget its role in promoting driver and vehicle safety. Advancements in AI and sensor networks are being tapped for tasks including route optimization, vehicle health and even driver fatigue detection.  Upon discovery of a potential issue, solutions can alert operators and fleet managers in real time, as well as trigger advanced driver-assistance systems and automated emergency response.

Lastly, when it comes to accessing data, rugged mobile computers are essential to placing information in the hands of operators, technicians and managers whether they are on the shop floor or working remotely. Fleet owners must not forget this important part of the equation. There is no point having all this amazing data without a means of accessing it in real-time at a construction site or remote area.

IRONPROS: What factors should construction businesses prioritize when choosing fleet management technology and a provider for their operations?

Panasonic Connect: Several factors should be considered to ensure solutions meet specific needs effectively, including the solution’s overall purpose, ruggedness for tough environments, cost, ease-of-use, support, connectivity capabilities, modularity and more.

First and foremost, technology must address a specific problem or requirement. Businesses come in all sizes and so do their needs and budgets.  It’s also important to ensure that the solution is a worthwhile investment. When assessing the cost, consider all associated fees, including initial setup, maintenance costs and any additional charges. Hardware and software solutions that allow for scalability are also attractive options and a cost-effective approach to meeting business needs without the requirement to purchase new equipment.

Employee buy-in is critical to the success of any new solution. As mentioned previously, adapting to change can be difficult and it’s important to avoid complicating matters by introducing tools that are difficult to use. Ideally, your new product should be easy to use and understand to ensure a successful onboarding experience.

Good support can also facilitate the adoption and transition to new technology. When searching for a provider, fleet owners should look for those who offer support services, including training, customer service and technical support.

Bonus: You can’t get access to data without reliable hardware connectivity. Whether you’re monitoring vehicle diagnostics, planning routes, assigning tasks, or responding to emergencies, connectivity is the foundation to real-time decision-making and is one of the most important features when it comes to fleet management technology.

IRONPROS: What Panasonic Connect solutions are available to help businesses save money when operating a fleet?

Panasonic Connect: Panasonic Connect can help you customize the right fleet management solution for your business that combines industry-leading applications with rugged mobile devices, value-added professional services and exceptional support.

Although their jobsites, tools and equipment may differ, our customers require mobile technology that is durable and reliable. The environmental conditions of a jobsite can be as unpredictable as the weather, so TOUGHBOOK solutions are built to withstand the extremes, including rain, heat, mud,and dirt.  

For fleet owners and managers looking to implement telematics into their operations, our TOUGHBOOK computers and tablets come equipped with advanced connectivity features and processing power, making them ideal for real-time data tracking and analysis to optimize fleet performance. When it comes to maintenance, antiquated paper-based processes are replaced with real-time data. This enables you to monitor downtime, track repair progress, manage replacement parts and more, from the touch of a screen.

Because service and support are crucial when implementing new solutions, Panasonic Connect stands behind our customers every step of the way. Our U.S.-based multilingual ProServices team is on-call to provide best-in-class warranty support and other expertise, including hardware integration, troubleshooting and diagnostics.

IRONPROS: What can customers expect from Panasonic Connect in 2024?

Panasonic Connect: As industries evolve, the challenges our customers face will also change.  And we remain ready and committed to investing in research and development that enables our customers to modernize and accelerate business growth at the speed with which business dictates.

This year, we will continue to roll out various product upgrades, including enhanced connectivity features and added processing capabilities. These upgrades are designed to boost productivity and efficiency, ensuring that our solutions not only meet current market demands but also set new performance standards within the industry.

The same goes for our services and support. We meet with customers and industry experts regularly to understand what their most pressing needs are and we build solutions for those needs. For example, for many fleet maintenance operations that may require IT assistance, solution setup, or deployment help, we have Staff Augmentation and Last Mile services to deliver confidence and mitigate IT gaps.

Panasonic Connect offers device hardware, software and professional services to support customers across a wide array of industries, including the public and federal sectors, utilities, construction and more. Panasonic Connect helps fleets stay connected and operate efficiently with our TOUGHBOOK portfolio of purpose-built solutions including rugged computers, tablets, software and services.

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