The Future of Fleet Management

by Brian Frederick
December 8, 2017

The fleet of tomorrow

Remember those old videos about the world of tomorrow? Imagining the future of cars was one of their favorite topics. Looking back, some of those ideas were pretty laughable. From the odd “futuristic designs” to the use of outdated technology, most of these predictions missed the mark by a lot. But that’s understandable. It would have taken serious foresight in 1960 to predict the way technology would shape up in 2017.

But in 2017, seeing where we’ve come from, we can look at some of the trends and identify where technology is going. Here’s what the future of fleet management may look like in the next few years.

Electric powered vehicles

Let’s be honest — oil is a dying fuel source. Sure, it’s a massive juggernaut of an industry right now, but even the most optimistic Texas oil man has to admit that it’s a finite resource. Eventually it’s going to run out. Whether that’s in 50 years or 500 or 5,000 is a matter of debate we can leave to the politicians and environmentalists. But the fact remains: alternative fuel sources are taking over.

Don’t believe it? Take a look around. How many electric cars like the Chevy Volt or the Tesla do you see? And the number is growing every day. General Motors has made it no secret they think electric cars are the future. So why wouldn’t electric trucks (and eventually equipment) be in the works too?

Tesla has already announced an electric semi (and EquipmentShare is getting one!). While electric powered long-haul trucks will present a series of challenges to be solved like how, when and where they’ll be powered, imagine the relief fleet managers will feel at not having to calculate IFTA taxes. (Then again, if you’re already using ES Track, that’s not really a problem.)

Self-driving trucks

Autonomous vehicles are a lot closer than you may think. Germany began test-running self-driving trucks last year, and Embark, a San Francisco-based startup began running autonomous vehicles between Texas and Southern California earlier this year.

While each of these vehicles uses an onboard human to oversee the journey (for now), the ultimate and very realistic goal is to have these vehicles operating completely independently sooner rather than later. In an industry that’s been troubled by a shortage of qualified operators, for fleet managers and company owners, this is a much appreciated boon.

While these vehicles are being used primarily for long-haul highway trips now, there's no reason to assume they can’t and won’t be used for shorter distances well. Like dropping off and picking up construction equipment, for example.

A connected vehicle and equipment ecosystem

The Internet of Things has already linked so many areas in our lives. It only makes sense that fleet management should join in this trend. Between cloud connectivity and data-gathering devices, it’s become the norm to get up-to-the-minute information on assets using a tool like ES Track.

And it’s not just knowing when, where and who is operating equipment; this connectivity allows for over-the-air updates, maintenance alerts and improved security. By creating an ecosystem where everything in your fleet is constantly connected, you’ll not only have greater control and understanding of your assets, you’ll also be able to spot inefficiencies and waste while maximizing utilization and profits.

And this is just the beginning. As technological advances continue at an exponential rate, it’s a fair assumption that we’ll see machines communicating among themselves to coordinate pickups, drop-offs and increasingly complex tasks.

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