A complete introduction to using ERP for fleet management
Most of us probably don’t think of ERP as a fleet management tool but maybe we should reconsider. Even the most basic ERP systems use resources which we usually think of as production equipment and tools. But that tractor is just another resource, isn’t it? The same ERP that helps us schedule preventive maintenance around our production needs can also track when it is time to change the oil in that big truck. Now we can monitor tire and battery life too. Forget the words on your screen that imply a shop milling machine, the concepts are close enough to use the same ERP.
We schedule production people such as welders and material movers with ERP. We can schedule drivers too. Now that we can track the time behind the wheel, we can also watch that required breaks are taken and meet some regulatory requirements at the same time.
Your fleet might be trailers used to store overflow materials in the parking lot. Your ERP inventory module has shelf and bin locations available and one of those can be trailer #25. Now you can find those parts you moved outdoors because there was no immediate need for them last summer.
But we don’t have to stop with a basic level software. Open source ERP systems like Adempiere and Open Bravo offer integrated fleet management tools that link directly to all the other ERP modules in the same set of databases. On the higher end of the spectrum, SAP does as well and the ERP you already use might have similar offerings.
Fleet management tools like these will help as users will be familiar with the distribution-centric vocabulary. An ERP optimized for fleet management can bring in more revenue too. With advanced tools, you can plan loads and placement within a vehicle for unloading at sequential customer docks. You can plan routes to optimize driver and truck time on the road and meet your requirements. If you can schedule a backhaul for another business, your fleet can earn money on the return trip instead of coming back empty.
One of the most useful benefits of fleet management is the ability to record and monitor costs to operate your fleet and see trends by vehicle or by the overall fleet. You see when one vehicle needs more maintenance that another. You can quickly evaluate a bid by a third party fleet provider and compare their bid against your actual costs. Drivers are an important part of your fleet, and software also helps you track their current driving licenses and accident rates.
Whether your fleet is two vehicles or 200, the ability to monitor your fleet easily and accurately is invaluable. A fleet management module in your ERP can improve workflows and increase revenue, so it’s worth looking around for this functionality when you’re in the market for new software.
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