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Seven new apps for fleet managers

Date: 16 December 2016   |   Author: Tristan Young

The world is going mobile. We all know that, but it's the use of these devices that may surprise - a recent study has found that, globally, mobile devices have overtaken desktop computers as the main provider of internet access.

The UK, which is still just in favour of desktop computers (55%), is heading in the same direction. In this light, apps for mobile devices are increasingly useful tools for fleet managers.

While traditionally we think of apps as software on our mobile phones, they can be used across other devices too. This is particularly the case in the commercial vehicle side of fleet management, where in-cab products can host several apps and offer a broader solution. TomTom and its Webfleet system (see opposite page) is a great example of this, showing how the integration of different apps can not only reduce a fleet manager's admin workload but also save a business money.

However, there are more conventional apps that anyone can download onto their mobile phone, be it an Apple or Android device, and use to record and relay information from the vehicle fleet to the central business.

We've looked at the seven best and most recent apps for a range of devices, but they all share one thing in common: they help the fleet manager do a better job.

Abax - Mobile

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Abax Mobile is a smartphone or tablet app that enables a business car driver to edit expenses and compile mileage reports on the move.

Updated earlier this year, Abax claims the app is simple to use and offers the driver only the essential data points needed to compile an HMRC-compliant mileage claim.

Mobile works by automatically documenting all driving via GPS, producing an accurate, digital business mileage record for drivers and fleet managers. Drivers can use Abax Mobile to complete their records privately and submit them to their employer.

Activa Contracts - Vehicle wear and tear app

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One of the biggest areas of contention with running a fleet of vehicles is the end-of-life condition and the associated charges.

Earlier this year, Activa Contracts devised its own solution to the problem with an app to make the de-fleet process significantly smoother.

The wear and tear app allows drivers to take photos of their car and highlight any damage.

This then allows the damage to be assessed within wear-and-tear guidelines and the fleet manager can then decide whether to repair or not.

The simplicity of the system means a decline in administration according to Mark Hastings, HR systems and payroll specialist at Mediterranean Shipping Company, which operates more than 100 vehicles and uses the app.

"The app is extremely easy to use and saves a lot of time. All of our drivers are now able to use the app, populate information on their company vehicle, take photos of any damage and submit to Activa Contracts direct from the app. That eases the administrative burden significantly," he says.





Alphabet - AlphaGuide

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Launched at the start of 2016, Alphabet's AlphaGuide has been warmly received, winning a BusinessCar Techies award for best app.

As well as a host of features for drivers such as journey planning with traffic information and Uber integration, AlphaGuide can also be used for tracking mileage, offering contract information, and claims management, and has a one-tap driver hotline to answer other queries.

The BusinessCar Techies judges particularly praised the integration of the phone's calendar, where the app accesses the user's diary to show meeting location, journey time and directions, and what time the user needs to leave their current location in order to arrive on time.

AlphaGuide is also the only app BusinessCar knows of that has Apple Watch integration and will, by the end of the year, have the same integration for Android watches.

CityFleet Business

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The CityFleet Business app covers transport needs away from the dedicated fleet and offers managers a centralised way of booking taxis, chauffeur-driven vehicles
and even minibuses.

Currently  London based but rapidly expanding, it differs from the consumer-focused Uber by allowing corporate accounts, where fleet managers can control which staff have access to which services, and has a centralised billing system to streamline expense management.











Radius Payments Solutions - Velocity

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Velocity is a fuel card management app from Radius Payments Solutions, which claims to save money, reduce administration and boost security while on the go.

The app allows fleet managers to instantly run detailed reports of fuel card use and keep on top of budgets by viewing invoices, while being portable also means fleet managers don't have to be in the office to keep an eye on fuel expenditure. Velocity also allows drivers to immediately cancel lost or stolen fuel cards via the app while on the move.

 TomTom - Webfleet for Sales Cloud and All On Mobile

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TomTom's Webfleet telematics system comes with two associated apps.

Webfleet for Sales Cloud has been developed by TomTom for the world's leading customer relationship management (CRM) system. Launched in June, Webfleet for Sales Cloud is available on the Salesforce AppExchange and is designed to reduce the administrative burden for staff on the road and provide sales managers with more transparency and comprehensive statistics for sales effectiveness.

CRM data can be enriched from the field, including GPS locations, journey times, completed appointments and driver behaviour.

When appointments are created in Salesforce they are relayed to Webfleet and on to the driver. Following an appointment, trip information will be transmitted back. This means, in addition to normal meeting details, office-based staff can view mileage, fuel usage, driver behaviour and more.

The second app from All On Mobile (AOM) runs on TomTom's in-cab seven-inch driver Pro 8275 driver terminal and links back to a business's systems, allowing for the reduction of paper processes with the use of online forms.

Vehicle checks are made via the device, with results communicated to back-office software. Once vehicle checks have been confirmed as completed, daily workflow is loaded onto the device and navigation provided to each job.

Automatic texts can be sent to customers advising them of arrival time, and proof of delivery obtained by using the app's signature-capture functionality or by scanning with the device's in-built camera or near-field communication chip.

TMC - Mileage Track

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The Mileage Track app is an extension of The Miles Consultancy's mileage-capture system and is designed to make it easy for TMC-client drivers to log business miles whenever and wherever they need to. The key to the app is that it logs the user into their account on the TMC system so all records on the app are immediately incorporated into the management system.

The app uses GPS and manual trip logging, plus it is able to record expenses - by photographing receipts - and can handle grey fleet management functions too, such as mandates for licence checks, car registration details, and insurance information. (See 'Case study: Danwood cuts fuel bill with TMC', below.)

Case study: Danwood cuts fuel bill with TMC

1. USE THIS PIC ONLY -WITH CAPTION -'Geoff Wray , Head Of Fleet And Facilities'

Danwood Group, the UK's largest independent provider of managed print and document-centric services, avoided a rise of £35,000 in its fuel bill and saw a 13.8% reduction in costs thanks to a solution from Barclaycard in association with The Miles Consultancy.

The company runs a fleet of 400 company cars, 160 cash-allowance cars and 40 commercial vehicles, and sought out a new solution after its existing fuel card supplier introduced a £1.20 flat fee for every fill-up.

Barclaycard's Fuel+ fuel card enables Danwood's employees to refuel securely at virtually any forecourt (including all supermarkets) at the pump price and with no additional transaction fees. Meanwhile, TMC captures complete, proactively audited, HMRC-compliant business mileage records via an online reporting portal, TMC's GPS-enabled smartphone app, and customers' telematics data feeds.

"When it went live, all I received was positive feedback as to how easy the system was - particularly the TMC Mobile app," says Geoff Wray, Danwood's head of fleet and facilities (pictured).

Danwood saw an immediate reduction in fuel-related costs due to the lack of transaction charges with the Fuel+ card. But this fee saving was just the beginning: at the end of the first quarter of 2016, a review of fuel and mileage costs showed that, after implementing the solution, Danwood's costs had fallen 13.8% year on year.

Putting mileage capture and fuel reimbursement into the hands of TMC has also freed up a week per month of staff time - around 40 hours that were previously committed to processing manual mileage reports.

"TMC send us finished reports where all the work is done for us. They'll also phone us if they spot something we need to look at. It's so much more than getting a spreadsheet at the end of the month," says Wray. "It means [we are] now able to get more involved in things like our lease contracts and our manufacturers' support agreements."