Management tools

Management tools

One of major task in city logistics is managing of vehicles fleet. Effective process of managing can be conducted only while the users have sufficient information about environment of the process and state of own resources – vehicles and employees. In this article, you will read how you can use fleet management systems to integrate e-vehicles effectively.

Fleet management systems are the main tools of fleet management. The implementation of electric vehicles into existing fleets, composed of internal combustion engine vehicles, will lead to enrich the fleet management tools with new functionalities such as energy management or, in the future, for automated driving. Energy management capabilities should be considered as advance schemes exchanging electric power between vehicle and electric grid, especially with local renewable sources of power as photovoltaic systems. This allows the users utilize electric vehicles on the most effective way. Moreover, the significant number of mobile energy warehouses (batteries of electric vehicles) allows storing surplus energy and letting it be available while power demand increases.

The integration of electric commercial vehicles into existing fleets, managed by fleet management systems, leads to restructuring these systems. Main challenge is to indicate data sources supplied to particular modules and indicate information at the exit form of its processing, because this particular information is the base of decision making of user. Data sources and relationship between them are presented in the form of a table where particular functional modules of fleet management system are supplied with data from selected suppliers (donors).

Figure 1 - Data Relationships in Fleet Management Systems

Source: MUS

Arrows symbolize:

← - left arrow – data supply for fleet management system;

→ - right arrow – information receiving from fleet management system;

↔ - bidirectional arrow – data and information interchange

Colors represent:

  • Yellow – electric vehicle users and decision makers;
  • Orange – new modules of fleet management systems.

The particular group of modules consists of following functionalities:

  1. Routing – traffic management, route planning, traffic information, work planning;
  2. Drivers work time management – management of drivers work time, drivers work schedules, alternate drivers schedules;
  3. Vehicle maintenance – state of vehicle subsystems, schedule of technical services, fuel monitoring – fuel level and fuel consumption, drivers fuel efficiency evaluation;
  4. Communication – communication with the drivers, text, voice, sending electronic documents (forms), sending data from mobile devices (e.g. handheld, smartphone), driving style evaluation;
  5. Cargo management – cargo state, status and position;
  6. Energy management – range, charging stations, real-time availability of stations, charging strategies in the home facility, price lists charging station operators (CSOs), storage of energy from renewable sources;

Quality criteria for the selection of a suitable tool

The range of tools available on the market is large. What should be considered when using a tool? In order to evaluate the selected fleet management systems, the following quality criteria should help you to select a suitable tool:

  • operational information – i.e. all currently available information on vehicles and drivers, needed for everyday fleet management, text or voice communication with the driver and short-term reports with regard to carrying out the operational tasks,
  • driver working time – daily, weekly and biweekly activity of any given driver, as well as the tachograph data which the company is required to archive for statutory inspection purposes,
  • fuel/energy – the fuel/energy level and consumption, vehicle operation parameters and evaluation of the driver’s work in the context of maximum fuel efficiency,
  • vehicle routing – route planning to cater for the planned transport operations, information on traffic intensity and road access for trucks, and inspection of completed trips.

Criteria for the consideration of electric commercial vehicles:

  • available information on charging possibilities (charging capacity, opening hours of the charging station, plug type, prices ...) – especially available in real-time for the driver by cockpit display,
  • consideration of spontaneous charging processes along the route due to low battery charge (direct communication with the energy management system of the electric vehicle)
  • consideration of the range of the vehicle and time slots of brakes necessary for charging up the batteries.

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