As supply chain demands change, the trucking industry is evolving rapidly, which presents unique challenges for operations and fleet managers alike. It is also an incredibly complicated business to manage. Fleet managers are facing an exceedingly challenging task of balancing revenue, industry regulations and driver job satisfaction, particularly as fleets continue to expand in terms of number, size and geographical location.
Digital key management has become one of the solutions that is crucial to the success of this industry. So, let’s discover how it addresses the difficulties in fleet management.
What are the challenges of traditional fleet management?
The Department of Transport’s Hours of Service (HOS) rules allow drivers to drive for a maximum of 11 hours of their 14-hour shift. This number in practice, however, is substantially lower, with only 7.3 hours of productive driving on average. The inefficiency stems mainly from waiting at a customer site to be loaded/unloaded, but part of it results from manual and obsolete procedures (paperwork, vehicle handovers etc.,), many of which can be automated.
The regular occurrence of lost keys, delays and miscommunication presents fleet managers with further difficulties, not only in terms of replacement costs but also vehicle downtime. For the fleet management business, vehicle availability is a huge issue, with wait times up to 24 months for a new truck. That drives the need to optimize efficiency in existing fleets.
Financial margins are also squeezed by the cost of supplying the vehicle, for example, the insurance, fuel, as well as servicing and cleaning. Consequently, keeping a non-operational vehicle for an extended period is a serious, costly issue.
What is the digital key solution for fleets?
The digital key provides secured vehicle access for fleets and removes the need for physical keys. A mobile device is used instead to unlock the vehicle’s doors as well as starting the ignition. And since drivers are already equipped with smartphones, this is an easy and convenient solution. Additionally, when using Keystone by Irdeto, for example, you don’t need to be in the network coverage area to be able to use it.
How does the digital key for fleet management work?
Distributing the keys to drivers becomes as easy as clicking a button. Drivers can quickly receive the access key on their smartphone and then proceed to prepare the vehicle (either based on proximity using Bluetooth BLE technology, or remotely) for operation. Fleet companies can also integrate with their current FMS solution, making this a seamless process for digital key management. Additionally, it is no longer necessary for drivers to fill out any paperwork or visit a dispatch office as the drive is already authorized based on the profile and permissions set out by the fleet managers.
Why is the digital key necessary in fleet management?
Driver changes and vehicle/equipment changes can be done smoother than ever thanks to the digital key solution. It is simple to pass the vehicle access to support functions, saving time for yard personnel and maintenance staff by eliminating the handover of physical keys. This implementation also means saving on operational costs.
In any case, fleet managers can have the highest level of control over when, how and by whom the vehicle can be used. In this way, fleet management becomes more reliable, flexible and secure.
What are the key benefits of using digital key solution for fleets?
The digital key solution offers a wide range of benefits and convenience to both drivers and fleet managers, including:
- Efficient secure vehicle access: Digital keys can be distributed remotely via the driver’s mobile device, eliminating physical key usage. The drivers will no longer have to commute to or from the physical key collection point, eliminating waiting times.
- Increase in revenue per shift: Less wasted time equates to more miles per shift. This will guarantee more revenue-generating during drivers’ on-duty time and a higher utilization of the fleet.
- Reliability and adaptability: Each digital key is unique which helps restrict vehicle access and enhance security for drivers. Furthermore, in the case of some providers, the key can operate in or out of cellular service or via Near-Field Communication (NFC) cards, allowing drivers to avoid the inconveniences of losing network connection or running out of mobile phone battery.
How does the fleet management business reach cost efficiency with digital keyless access?
Traditional management with physical keys can cost the business money, time and reputation; millions in lost revenue could result from physical key mismanagement. Meanwhile, the digital key solution has streamlined fleet operations, by issuing vehicle access through a secure cloud portal, meaning that lost keys are a thing of the past.
This digital shift allows for better business decisions by providing immediate and accurate visibility into how the trucks are used. Furthermore, without physical key handover, drivers also spend less time at the dreaded dispatch office and filling out lengthy paperwork. As a result, they can get on the road faster and increase their effective driving time.
How can the digital key solution assist the fleet management company’s compliance with industry rules?
Alongside the HOS rules already mentioned, there are two other important industry regulations that the digital key solution can assist compliance with:
- Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) mandate demands that every commercial vehicle’s usage and driver’s hours are digitally monitored.
- Record of Duty Status (RODS) is a part of the HOS rules that require each driver to record their duty status every 24 hours, including date/time, vehicle number, driving hours, mileage, carrier name, driver’s certification etc. on paper, as a backup to ELD, in case of equipment failure.
Fleet managers can have complete access to all the data and control over how their fleet is used. Digital keys give a fine-toothcomb look and feel to the process, allowing visibility into who is using the vehicle, or whether it is still with the yard personnel.
How does the fleet management business increase driver retention with the digital key solution?
Operational efficiency has directly improved drivers’ daily working lives. The old way of management requires drivers to go to the office every day, spend time finding and inspecting the assigned truck, then perform time-consuming administrative checks. Fortunately, the manual procedure can be removed by employing the digital key solution. If the assigned vehicle is not roadworthy (red-tagged or failed the pre-trip inspection), a new key and vehicle can be assigned without a trip back to the dispatch office.
The time-saving improvements streamline business operations and also greatly improve overall job satisfaction, helping in employee retention.
How can the digital key solutions for fleets help ensure the driver’s safety?
Safety is critical on the road, but safety within the vehicle is just as important. Both factors can be guaranteed by employing the digital key solution. Since each key is unique, no one else but the driver can access the vehicle. Moreover, the doors can be unlocked on approach to the vehicle eliminating the pause required to physically unlock the door with a key. This is especially important late at night, when drivers take a rest at usually dark, empty rest stops. A digital key takes away the stress and frustration of finding the keys to get back into the truck safely. Also, the cab can be remotely locked from inside the vehicle ensuring a safe environment for layovers and rest.
Furthermore, the digital key solution offers touch-free access, allowing the drivers to focus on just driving safely.
Does the digital key require a constant network connection to work?
A network connection is not required to access the vehicle once keys have been sent to the driver’s mobile device. Furthermore, there are a few backup access methods, such as NFC cards and a wireless Bluetooth keypad, installed on the vehicle. These methods serve as a backup mechanism in the case of battery depletion or lost access to the mobile device.
What are the common cyberattacks involving the use of digital keys?
Just like with anything else, a certain degree of risk is involved in the area of digital keys security. Even though this solution brings a lot of benefits that streamline the fleet management process, there are some potential threats that come with it:
- Key theft: Threat actors can attempt breaching some of the digital key components to produce undesirable behavior.
- Signal amplified relay attack: Bad actors can place a transmitter near the key and a receiver near the vehicle to boost the signal. This allows for signal duplication enabling door unlocking, ignition and ultimately vehicle theft.
- Man-in-the-Middle attack: Threat actors can intercept signals between mobile devices and vehicles for replay.
- Man-at-the-End attack: Bad actors can attempt to compromise a device by obtaining physical access to it, to tampering with its hardware and/or software.
We are here to help!
Any innovation comes at a price. To keep you ahead of the game, it is essential to partner with a security vendor who has a track record of successful deployments in hostile environments, understands the common attack strategies and can provide defense-in-depth security.
Contact us to find out how we can elevate your fleet management!