New Age Fleets: Digitization and Optimization of Rental Fleets

May 15th, 2022 | by Krishnan Sangameswaran, Product Management | Posted in: Insight on Things


Digitization of fleets

Fleet management is an ever-evolving industry, and it can be challenging to keep up. With technology powering mostly everything we do in this digital age, one of the biggest challenges fleet managers face, and one that often has the most impact, is a lack of digitization. In a world where more digital and highly personalized experiences are sought after, it is critical for fleet managers to use technology solutions to help them meet their customer’s needs.

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

  • Reservation requests, 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 their driver’s license. The associate runs a background check to ensure the license belongs to the person in its possession. Once cleared, the associate walks the driver around the vehicle as part of the inspection check and has the driver 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.
  • 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 of 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.

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 deployed at the rental fleet company’s hubs or via a web interface designed for the customers of the rental fleet company. Additionally, once the reservation is put into the system, Ridecell supports the auto-allocation of available vehicles at the hub to the reservation.

Ridecell Fleet Rental

Using vehicle telematics, key data points critical to the rental flow, such as odometer reading and fuel levels, are captured. With the ability to edit vehicle allocation, the associate on the ground can always switch the vehicle based on certain criteria such as fuel levels. 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 a scheduled time. Once the reservation is in the active state, the vehicle(s) associated with the reservation are visible to the drivers(s) who have been registered by the business account.

Reservation System

Upon initiating the check-out process, the driver is prompted to take a photo of themselves – this is the ID authentication stage where we will validate that the driver is who they claim they are. Also, we provide the ability to run extensive background checks on the driver ranging from Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) to an FBI watchlist.

face recognition

Once the driver success passes the background check, they are asked to do a vehicle 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 physical 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 vehicle telematics 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 captured, 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 to collect 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. Click here to learn more about how fleet automation can help you achieve your fleet-related and turn insights into action.

Author: Krishnan Sangameswaran, Product Management, Ridecell

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