For fleet managers, the control and management of your fleet begins with control and management of the keys that start the vehicles. For some, this critical task is left to a very basic – and incredibly low-tech – solution, such as hooks mounted on a pegboard with a notebook for signing vehicle keys in and out.

There are a number of shortcomings with this type of “system,” most notably that employees tend to ignore it altogether. With this type of honour system approach, there is no way to track keys, control who can use which vehicles or know who has a key at any given time. Further, as fleet manager you have no way to know if your mandated key policies are being followed; you are blind to overuse or misuse of certain vehicles, potential liabilities and many other problems.

Automated key management solutions

The unfortunate reality is that many fleet managers aren’t aware of these potential issues until it is too late. The fact that they haven’t had a problem may prevent them from taking action until they are actually faced with an issue. At that point, they will likely be motivated to investigate an automated key control and management system as an alternative to the very basic system they have in place.

Key management solutions offer a number of benefits, including cost savings, which can be achieved using a number of features and functionality to proactively address potential issues in several critical areas while also improving overall operations.

It’s important to note that
in fleet management, key control is not actually about the keys themselves; it’s all about the vehicles.

Managing vehicle usage

Within every fleet, there are newer or nicer vehicles that become favourites among employees and are therefore constantly in use. Meanwhile, other vehicles sit idle. This dwell time is big problem for fleet managers, with mileage and associated wear and tear piling up on some vehicles while other expensive assets gather dust.

An automated, networked key control system can eliminate this problem. It’s important to note that in fleet management, key control is not actually about the keys themselves; it’s all about the vehicles. With a key control system, certain users can be authorised to use only certain vehicles, such as late-model units, while others can be authorised to use newer units.

Reducing vehicle dwell time

For example, a trucking company recently implemented a key control solution for just this purpose. When a driver logs in, the system checks to see if his or her primary vehicle is available and if so, issues that key. If key isn’t available because the truck’s return has been delayed for one reason or another, the system identifies a similar vehicle based on the user’s profile and authorisation and issues the next available key. This ensures that vehicles are properly rotated to reduce dwell time and eliminate excess wear and tear on certain units.

A challenge around vehicle usage is making sure certain specialised vehicles are available when needed
Specialised vehicles could include delivery trucks with lift gates, police cars equipped with riot gear, or limousines with certain seating capacity

Another challenge around vehicle usage is making sure certain specialised vehicles are available when needed. These could be delivery trucks with lift gates, police cars equipped with riot gear, limousines with certain seating capacity and others.

Whether because these vehicles are newer or because drivers aren’t aware of their specialised nature, they are often out in the field when someone needs their specific specialisation. This is not only inconvenient, but in the case of a specially equipped police car, it can significantly impact public safety.

Misuse and misappropriation of vehicles

Therefore, being able to control who is able to access the key for these specialised units is a primary concern. Key management systems provide this functionality, as well as the ability for users to request and reserve certain units to ensure it will be available when necessary. By more effectively managing their fleet to ensure mileage and wear and tear are evenly distributed, organisations can also lower their operating costs and grow their bottom line. In some cases, a key control system can make fleet management so efficient that fewer vehicles may be needed because of the increased utilisation.

Whether intentional or unintentional, employee misuse and misappropriation of fleet vehicles is another major challenge for fleet managers. It can be tempting for an employee to simply take a vehicle home for the weekend – or longer – rather than signing it in on Friday and back out again on Monday.

Imagine for a moment that someone takes a company car home and uses it as a personal vehicle over the weekend. Should that person be involved in an accident, DUI or other criminal incident, police could seize the vehicle, forcing the company to put a lot of time and energy into getting their property returned.

Automated networked key management

So while this may sound very basic, it’s extremely important for fleet managers to be able to know who has – or had – a unit at any given time, and to know in real time if a particular vehicle is not returned when it is supposed to be. Automated networked key management systems make this possible by issuing an alert if a unit is overdue for return. With these solutions, if something happens to a unit an employee kept over a weekend, the organisation will know exactly who should be accountable and can take whatever necessary actions.

Using a key management system ensures that no matter whether your vehicles are being managed by a long-time employee or someone you brought on board last week, policies will be followed correctly.

Liability and licences

Ensuring that drivers have valid licences is crucial for companies because drivers with expired licences are no longer covered by insurance. So if an unlicensed driver were to gets into an accident, the company would be liable for any damage.

Key management solutions allow fleet managers to input users’ driver’s licence information into the system
Users with expired licences can be locked out of the system to prevent them from checking out a vehicle until they have renewed their licence

Key management solutions allow fleet managers to input users’ driver’s licence information into the system. When an individual’s expiration date arrives, they can verify that the licence has been renewed and update the information. Users with expired licences can be locked out of the system to prevent them from checking out a vehicle until they have renewed their licence.

This may seem like a minor feature, but it is extremely important for a fleet manager to manage that data on a daily basis to determine whether a driver is eligible to check out a vehicle. If that has to be done manually, it can be overwhelming, particularly for large fleets. Therefore, having the system perform that task automatically is a major benefit for fleet managers.

Additionally, there are a number of regulations that place caps on how many hours a day truck drivers are permitted to be on the road. With key management solutions, a company can view and track in real time how many hours its drivers have put in each day to ensure compliance with these regulations. These regulations can also be programmed into the system to alert fleet managers if and when a driver exceeds those limits, which can have important legal implications. In these situations, knowing how many hours their drivers are actually logging is critical for fleet managers.

Ensuring that drivers have valid licences is crucial for companies because drivers with expired licences are no longer covered by insurance

Flexibility of vehicle location

Another important function of key management systems is the ability to check out a vehicle key from one location and return it to another. For example, a trucking company may have drivers pick up a vehicle at a central distribution center and drop it off at a remote warehouse for the next driver to use. With a peg-and-notebook system, there is no way for a fleet manager to verify that the key has been returned, but a networked solution will track that automatically. If for some reason the driver forgets to return the key, the system will issue an alert immediately, allowing the fleet manager to proactively ensure that it will be available when needed.

Real-time vehicle maintenance

Reporting is another main feature of key management systems, but reports only tell a story after the fact. Where these solutions really shine is by providing real-time notifications that allow for immediate action rather than relying on historical data to determine reaction.

For example, if a driver experiences an issue with the brakes on a vehicle, he or she can use the key management system to report it immediately. The system will notify the fleet manager and remove the vehicle from service for maintenance. Without this feature, the manager might now be aware of the problem until receiving a report. In the meantime, someone else could sign out the vehicle without knowing about the problem, which may have worsened. In these cases, there are few, if any, positive potential outcomes.

Clearly, basic methods of key management do not ensure that fleet vehicles will be properly controlled. Automated solutions, on the other hand, allow fleet managers to control and track vehicle usage to reduce wear and tear while improving accountability and avoiding liability issues. These key management solutions deliver a high level of flexibility and real-time awareness fleet managers need to ensure the most effective and efficient use of their vehicles to streamline operations and, perhaps most importantly, reduce overall costs.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

In case you missed it

Intersec 2021 cancelled, Messe Frankfurt announces that Dubai trade fair will now take place in January 2022
Intersec 2021 cancelled, Messe Frankfurt announces that Dubai trade fair will now take place in January 2022

Intersec, the world’s renowned security, safety, and fire protection trade fair, has been rescheduled to take place in January 2022, organiser of the trade event, Messe Frankfurt Middle East confirmed on September 24, 2020. The 23rd edition of the three-day event was originally set to run from January 24-26, 2021, at the Dubai World Trade Centre, in Dubai, UAE. However, the event has now been moved to 2022, after extensive consultation with key industry stakeholders. Intersec Dubai 2022 “We’ve spoken to many of our exhibitors, industry trade associations, supporters, and partners over the last couple of weeks and have heard first-hand the many challenges they’re facing putting pressure on their ability to participate at Intersec in January 2021,” said Alexandria Robinson, Intersec’s Show Director at Messe Frankfurt. He adds, “Moving Intersec to its customary January dates in 2022 at the Dubai World Trade Centre will allow time for recovery.” Webinar series in 2021 Ms. Robinson said Intersec will be very active throughout 2021, via its ongoing webinar series Ms. Robinson said Intersec will be very active throughout 2021, via its ongoing webinar series, while the team is now working towards creating a virtual event early next year, so as to engage industry leaders, regulators, government agencies and opinion formers. “We might be restricted physically, but we know there is a definitive need for critical conversations and discussions to address the challenges the industry has faced,” said Robinson. Digital forum to share ideas and solutions He adds, “By hosting these talks via a digital forum, it enables us to keep connected to the industry and nurture our existing relationships, whilst sharing solutions and common goals. We’ll share further details and plans about the digital event in the coming weeks.” Intersec’s popular free-to-attend webinar series, of which there’ve been 11 so far in the last four months, have kept thousands of attendees abreast of the latest industry trends and opportunities. Ensuring safety in COVID-19 pandemic period “We know we have a vital role to play in connecting and supporting the industry, and the Intersec webinars stimulate meaningful conversations, collaborations and success stories,” stated Robinson, adding “We will continue to run these and support our stakeholders in every way possible until we meet again personally, and safely, at Intersec 2022.” She further said, “One thing is absolutely certain, our community is resilient and will bounce back. It has been involved in many frontline situations throughout the course of this year and it will continue to play a critical role in the months ahead. Throughout 2021 and come January 2022, we’ll have much to share and learn from each other.” Intersec 2020 Intersec in 2020 featured 1,100 exhibitors from 56 countries, while attracting 33,872 visitors from 135 countries. The global industry event is supported by Dubai Civil Defence, Dubai Police, the Security Industry Regulatory Agency (SIRA), Dubai Police Academy and Dubai Municipality.

What is the role of higher education to create next-gen security leaders?
What is the role of higher education to create next-gen security leaders?

Traditionally, security industry professionals have often come from backgrounds in law enforcement or the military. However, the industry is changing, and today’s security professionals can benefit from a variety of backgrounds and educational disciplines. The industry’s emphasis on technology solutions suggests a need for more students of computer science, engineering and other technology fields. The closer integration of security with related disciplines within the enterprise suggests a need to prepare through a broad array of educational pursuits. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the role of higher education to create the next generation of physical security leaders?

Transport security: utilising the cloud to manage passenger flow and improve health & safety
Transport security: utilising the cloud to manage passenger flow and improve health & safety

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring the safety of passengers and staff aboard public transport has been an ongoing concern. The scenes of underground trains, still packed with commuters as infection rates soared, will have raised alarm bells with bus and train managers, transport officials and government representatives alike. Now, as infection rates hold steady and people slowly return to the workplace, a rise in commuter levels, coupled with a need for strong infection control protocols, is putting a strain on an already overburdened transport system. Managing passenger flow through bus terminals and train stations, while ensuring adherence to social distancing and mask-wearing policies, can be a difficult task. On buses and trains, staff have the unenviable task of challenging any individual who flouts the rules, while attempting to maintain safe operation for the benefit of all passengers. This is where advances in digital surveillance technologies can play an important role in enhancing security, improving operations and supporting the customer facing teams in their day to day roles.  The power of the cloud Keeping businesses afloat and people connected throughout the pandemicCloud or hosted technology has played an important part in keeping businesses afloat and people connected throughout the pandemic. When it comes to physical security such as video surveillance and access control, today’s cloud-enabled systems are far removed from the outdated CCTV and manual access control technologies employed in the past. Cloud connectivity brings with it many benefits, from a security, operational and also business intelligence point of view, thanks to the powerful data that these solutions produce which can be used to inform decision making. The advantages of cloud-based physical security technologies are many, and have wide ranging applications for all areas of the transport sector; across stations, transport hubs and vehicles. When used to support staff and complement existing processes, such systems can prove invaluable for transport professionals in helping to create a safer working environment, promoting confidence among personnel and passengers, and assuring passengers who are fearful about the current pandemic that all possible precautions are being taken during their journey. Managing occupancy across bus and rail Monitoring the movement of staff and passengers is an essential part of being able to maintain a safe operation. Through the utilisation of surveillance cameras at entrances and exit points, as well as at key areas within transport terminals and on the transport mode itself, occupancy thresholds can be determined to ensure passenger numbers do not exceed safe limits. Network surveillance cameras, accessed via mobile device, can enable transport officials to check passenger flow in real-time, while live alerts to warn that health and safety protocols are being breached, enable swift drafting of security or operations personnel to address the situation. Live alerts to warn that health and safety protocols are being breached Through internet of things (IoT) connectivity, additional devices can be easily added to complement the surveillance solution and unlock further benefits. Network audio speakers can be triggered to play pre-recorded messages to alert or inform passengers. Similarly, frictionless access control, enabling customers and staff to move ‘hands-free’ through gateways and ticket checkpoints to avoid viral spread, is made possible by having an access reader which is activated, for example, via QR codes on a mobile phone. And when access readers are integrated with surveillance cameras, this will act as a second layer of authentication to grant or refuse access based on valid staff credentials. Improving security in challenging times Such technologies, interconnected and able to share data, can be used to more effectively report in real time on activity that threatens to have an adverse effect on passengers, staff and the transport environment. Significant parts of the rail network are relatively unmonitored, and inevitably these areas are more vulnerable to vandalism. Similarly, on bus services, abuse of passengers and staff, and acts of criminal behaviour remain a concern. By alerting security staff to a developing situation before it occurs, an incident can be dealt with quickly, minimising disruption to transport services. Cloud based technology can be relied on Cloud based technology can be relied on to not only help improve current services, around passenger occupancy in the current pandemic, but also to help transport officials plan for the security challenges of the future. Simple customisation and easy scalability, plus software upgrades and firmware updates to ensure the system is always up to date and operational, form essential components of a future proof solution which is capable of bringing peace of mind to the transport industry. Additionally, predicted future benefits include the potential for customers to check transport occupancy levels via a mobile app. This would inform them of particularly busy times of passenger transit, allowing more choice over when and where to travel based on real-time data, and ultimately helping to even out passenger numbers to balance journeys and greatly improve efficiency and flow. In a busy world where the demands on our rail and bus networks are now impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and indeed the possibility for further related challenges in the future, such cloud-connected technologies represent a worthwhile investment.