New Age Fleets: Digitization and Optimization of Rental Fleets

December 8th, 2020 | by Krishnan Sangameswaran and Rosmon Sidhik | Posted in: Insight on Things


Digitization of fleets

Fleet management is a constantly evolving industry, and it can be challenging to keep pace. COVID-19 and the subsequent global lockdown brought to the forefront the biggest challenge facing rental fleet managers today: namely, a lack of digitization. In an era now defined by a preference for less human contact and quicker, more digital, and highly personalized experiences, fleet managers need technology solutions that help them meet their customer’s needs.

Typically the vehicle rental process, everything from the reservation experience and vehicle assignment, to vehicle pick-up and return, to vehicle security, safety, and maintenance, has proven time-consuming and inefficient for today’s fleet managers’ needs.

  • Reservation requests, for example, are still mostly conveyed over the phone. The associates at the location make sure they have a vehicle to assign to the request nearer to the date. On the day of the reservation, they run a yard check and assign a specific vehicle to the reservation.
  • For vehicle pick-up, the driver shows up at the front desk and provides his/her driver’s license. The associate runs a background check to ensure the license belongs to the person in its possession. Once cleared, he walks the driver around the vehicle as part of the inspection check and has him sign the inspection report and the rental agreement.
  • Finally, in terms of asset security, once the vehicle is driven out of the hub, there is no insight into who is driving the vehicle and where it is.

Challenges with the current process include:

  • Limited working hours—a manual process of assignment means that associates need to be present at all times, and vehicles can be rented only during regular working hours from 9 am – 7 pm.
  • Time-consuming inventory management—associates spend a good part of their time marking vehicles that have arrived, checking the odometer and fuel levels to close the previous and prep for the new reservation.
  • Physical interaction between the driver and associate.
  • Long wait times for drivers at pick up locations.
  • Inability to disable access and secure the vehicle if it’s stolen.

The Ridecell Fleet Rental solution was designed to maximize operational efficiency. It allows for unmanned check-out and check-in for vehicles, reduces efforts for fleet associates in managing inventory, and allows hubs to rent vehicles 24/7. It gives drivers a seamless, touchless, and automated process for renting and accessing vehicles while significantly increasing the security of vehicle fleets.

Read on to find out more about how the Ridecell Fleet Rental solution addresses today’s fleet managers’ most pressing needs.

The Ridecell Fleet Rental solution

1. Reservation and Inventory management

Ridecell’s solution can support multi-vehicle and multi-day requests for business accounts per reservation. These reservations can be made via a web interface (op-center) deployed at the rental fleet company’s hubs or via a web interface designed for the customers (businesses) of the rental fleet company.

Ridecell Fleet Rental

Additionally, once the reservation is put into the system, Ridecell supports the auto-allocation of available vehicles at the hub to the reservation.

Using vehicle telematics, we capture key data points that go into the rental flow, such as odometer reading and fuel levels. With the ability to edit vehicle allocation, the associate on the ground can always switch the vehicle based on, e.g., the fuel level. The Ridecell solution also provides maintenance states in which the vehicles aren’t available for allocation to a reservation.

The Ridecell Fleet Rental solution delivers full automation once the vehicles have been readied and made available for rentals.

2. Touchless Driver pick-up

The reservations can be started either manually or can be automated to start at the scheduled time. Once the reservation is in the active state, the vehicle/vehicles associated with the reservation are visible to the driver/drivers who have been registered by the business account. See below.

Reservation System

Upon initiating the check-out process, the driver is prompted to take a selfie. This is the ID authentication stage where we will validate that the driver is who he claimed s/he is. Also, we provide the ability to run extensive background checks on the driver ranging from Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) to an FBI watchlist check.

face recognition

Once the background check has passed successfully, the driver is asked to do an Inspection check. The driver takes a mandatory set of photos of all sides of the vehicle and tags any damages. These images are then compared with another set of images taken by the driver at the time of vehicle drop-off (check-in), allowing the rental fleet manager to hold the customer responsible for any damages caused.

Inspection check

Once the inspection report is submitted, the driver is presented with the rental agreement to accept. The driver is then able to unlock the vehicle via the app and drive away. Similarly, the drop off (check-in) of the vehicle at the hub is also enabled from within the driver’s app.


Rental Agreement

3. Multiple Access options

We offer our customer’s business accounts the option of App-based, NFC cards, or Original Keys as their preferred method to operate the rented fleet of vehicles. These preferences are captured at the time of reservation. The advantages of using Apps or NFC cards over physical keys are twofold:

  • Ability to easily manage lost or stolen keys with reduced cost
  • Ability to track trips on a per driver basis

Many businesses will need time to move to a purely digital interaction, and for them, we continue to support a physical key workflow.

4. Asset security and management

Asset security is a key part of fleet management. The telematics in the vehicle allows the vehicle to be immobilized remotely from the Ridecell operation center.

Additionally, key pieces of data including, odometer readings, fuel levels, and a small subset of all vehicle data that we capture, are recorded at regular intervals and readily available in the operation center (web interface) deployed at Ridecell’s customer’s hubs. This means that there isn’t a requirement for associates to walk up to returned vehicles for this information, which is how it’s done today.

Ridecell also offers a separate fleet product focused entirely on making all this data that we capture actionable.

Digital transformation is critical for fleet managers looking to compete in a world defined by shifting customer demand and a desire for more seamless, tech-enabled experiences. Ridecelll works with our fleet partners to ensure they can maintain the highest levels of security, safety, and efficiency to help maximize their fleet operations and ultimately drive profitability. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help automate your fleet management.

Author: Krishnan Sangameswaran, Product Management, Ridecell and Rosman Sidhik, Director of Engineering, Ridecell.

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