Flexible fleet options: The future for contractor workforces

Monday, April 20, 2015 - 11:00
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In his latest opinion piece for FleetPoint, John Cameron, general manager of Trimble Field Service Management looks at the future for contractor workforces

Traditionally, in-vehicle telematics devices have proven successful in helping businesses that operate large vehicle fleets to manage and measure their field operations, however with ever increasing customer expectations and rising competition in service, the dynamics of today’s field service workforce are changing to adapt to these demands.

Contractor workforces are becoming much more of a necessity for organisations, to help keep pace with the speed and quality of service and achieve cost-effective resource management and as such leased or employee owned vehicles are becoming much more prevalent. As a result, the need for more flexible fleet options is required to ensure all workers and vehicles are managed effectively in order to optimise the workflow and meet service commitments.

Managing a flexible workforce

Plug and play solutions are suitable for businesses that often lease vehicles or use contractor workforces. Such a solution can be easily installed and removed, can be moved between vehicles, is low-cost and offers the same benefits as traditional wired-in fleet management solutions. Real-time location information, driver behaviour data, vehicle fault codes and vehicle status can all be recorded offering the real-time visibility and insight organisations need to measure, manage and improve their operations.

Many plug and play solutions can also be integrated with work management solutions which can offer optimised scheduling and job dispatch so a business can have complete visibility of their jobs and mobile workers alongside their fleet, all in one solution. This access to information empowers field workers with the customer and service insight at their fingertips necessary to resolve issues quickly no matter what type of worker they are.

Fostering fleet flexibility through mobility

An increasing number of field service businesses are integrating their work management capabilities into mobile applications, which they can then offer to their technicians to allow them to share, store and view job data while out in the field, offering them a virtual link to the back office that helps to inform and empower them. Contractor workers or employees who use their own vehicles can also benefit from the use of mobile apps, if initially provisioned in to the back end system.

The range of information offered through a mobile application can include previous work history of jobs and upcoming work details. For example, if a technician is en-route to a customer, a quick look at service history on a mobile phone can inform them that the customer has complained multiple times to the helpdesk about a product/equipment failure. This is vital information that can help the technician approach the customer with more care, helping to maintain a good customer service. Furthermore, when a technician reviews and accepts a job within a mobile application, the mobile device’s navigation tool can help them find the most efficient route. Helping to reduce fuel consumption and travel time. From a service perspective, the technician can then pull up the customer’s details and call them to confirm when they will be arriving on-site.

John Cameron is general manager of Trimble Field Service Management (FSM), where he is responsible for worldwide operations and development.

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