Mobile apps drive fleet management
- By Amanda Ziadeh
- Jul 06, 2015
As government agencies look for more efficient ways to manage their vehicle fleets, smartphone-based apps are providing benefits to both drivers and fleet managers.
The State Department’s Integrated Logistics Management System (ILMS) Mobile Driver tracks a global fleet of 14,000 vehicles in more than 260 locations in 176 countries, supporting more than 40 U.S. government agencies.
Drivers overseas can review assigned trips, record trip information and manage reassigns and transfers in real time, all while securely connected to the State Department’s Fleet Management Information System.
The application works on iOS and Android devices, transforming what was a paper process to an automated and connected system, according to Karl Dedolph, managing director at Accenture, which worked with State to increase its supply chain efficiency and fleet management support.
Rather than carrying a clipboard, an employee assigned with a delivery task uses Mobile Driver to record all trip information and inventory. The platform is integrated with ILMS, so the data is immediately accessible and reviewable by State Department management, procurement and property officials.
The application is easy to learn and user-friendly. “Once the driver opens up the application they’ll know how to use it,” Dedolph said.
The application also fosters communication within the department. It allows embassy representatives and consulate personnel to rate their satisfaction and digitally sign for deliveries via the mobile app.
By improving fleet management data quality and providing users with these tools, the Department is enabling the mobile diplomat, who can “connect overseas to be able to focus on their mission, with the capabilities and technologies to better execute that mission,” Dedolph said.
The General Services Administration took a similar approach with its Fleet Management System To Go application, or FMS2GO.
The Android-based app gives GSA fleet employees and vehicle contractors real-time access to the department’s back-end Fleet Management System (FMS), which houses and tracks data for more than 200,000 GSA vehicles, according to Teressa Wykpisz-Lee, deputy associate administrator of the Office of Communications and Marketing for GSA.
FMS2GO reuses and extends the FMS capabilities running on the Unisys ClearPath mainframe to a mobile device using application programming interfaces created with ClearPath ePortal middleware.
With this technology, drivers can easily manage and record their inventory on site and at delivery locations, improving distribution, data transfer and batch processing procedures.
The Android device’s built-in camera and microphone provide the tools for barcode scanning and voice recognition, reducing the need for extra equipment. These features allow for a detailed loading of vehicle information and new vehicle inventory, reconciliation of license plate orders, vehicle assignments to federal customers and assignment terminations when necessary.
When new vehicles are delivered, for example, FMS2GO loads initial vehicle information. When a fleet leasing customer exchanges an old vehicle for new, the app quickly assigns a new vehicle to that customer and terminates the old one.
All these transactions are then instantly updated in the FMS.
According to Wykpisz-Lee, the app is fully deployed and is already being used by nearly 200 employees, a number that will grow with the app’s future releases. It has helped to reduce the need for expensive handheld scanners, cut operational costs and enhanced customer satisfaction.
To ensure security, all users are required to authenticate to the FMS database before any data is transferred, and information is securely sent to and from the app through a Secure Socket Layer connection.
Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.