By Cheryl Bikowski
Emergency response is all about speed and efficiency. Fleets must have the right tools, as well as quick and easy access to them. As such, it’s a field that is always improving.
Technologies and policies are constantly evolving so that police, fire and ambulance crews can better serve the public.
Below are a few predictions for how the fleet management industry will continue to evolve in 2016:
1. Fleets will improve maintenance tracking to reduce costs
Vehicles of all kinds are being made to last, and emergency vehicles are no exception. With the increased focus on vehicle longevity, expect to see fleet managers devote more time to specific maintenance schedules. The increased attention to detail and scheduled maintenance will pay off as fleet vehicles will last longer. Also, because fleet vehicles are made for easy retrofitting in terms of storage and technology, fleet managers have even more of an incentive to keep their vehicles longer.
2. Parts operations will be outsourced
Larger fleets, such as police and fire that are run by municipalities, are finding value in parts operations that are outsourced. Previously, fleet managers took responsibility for their stock of replacement parts — essentially working in isolation to supposedly reduce costs. The problem, however, is that stocking and restocking inventory isn’t always a cost saver. It can lead to salvaging parts that are no longer safe to salvage, which in turn can require costlier repairs down the line. In 2016, expect fleet managers to become more reliant on outsourced parts operations. Under this increasingly popular system, fleets can replace parts as needed, trusting that they are receiving quality parts that will last longer and keep drivers safer.
3. Fleets will turn their attention to more efficient fuel management
It’s nothing new for fleet managers to strive to be more fuel efficient, but in 2016, expect them to have more options to do so. As individual fleet vehicles become unusable, their replacements are more fuel efficient; and it is increasingly worth the investment, as those fuel savings aren’t insignificant. Similarly, as telecommuting is becoming more commonplace, fleet managers are seeing savings in fuel costs as they relate to driving back and forth. Various policies reflect this changing mindset — with new standards related to carpooling. Maintenance is another way to reduce fuel costs. As fleet managers put a greater emphasis on routine maintenance work, they’ll keep a close eye on improvements that help to reduce fuel costs.
4. Cabins will be upgraded with impressive new technologies
Part of the efficiency of emergency response vehicles is that they can often double as workspace for the driver and crew. In 2016, expect new advancements in technology that make it even easier to do so. Mobile workstations are designed to make better use of space within the vehicle and often come with consoles and types of smart storage and charging options for flashlights, laptop computers and more. Similarly, GPS options will get smarter and easier for drivers to use.
5. Wearable technologies will give emergency responders better ways to do their jobs
It’s perhaps a long shot that it will be standard issue in 2016, but the pieces are coming together for exciting wearable technology that could revolutionize emergency response. Take Google Glass, for example. While that particular brand has paused its consumer approach, companies are already eying the possibility of new similar technologies. For emergency responders, such items could greatly improve their ability to record and report so that they can provide better service. During the next year, it will be exciting to watch advancements like these progress.