Fleet management is the process of organizing, tracking, and maintaining a vehicle fleet. Fleets  usually consist of commercial cars, trucks, buses, and cargo vans. 

Fleet management is done through a fleet management system (FMS). This combo of hardware and software collects data from an on-board computer, then sends it to the fleet manager via GPS. The data can be the vehicle’s fuel use, location and status, and even the drivers’ work hours and break times. 

Vehicles have different requirements than a typical home or office. FMS computers must handle their unique uses and conditions.

Wear-and-tear Vibration 

Unlike homes and offices, vehicles are constantly on the move. This produces a lot of vibration. Traveling on the smoothest road will quickly wear down a PC, nevermind hazards like potholes. 

Fleet managers thus should select an in-vehicle computer for their vehicles. It’s built with industrial grade components and is IEC60068 certified to withstand shock and vibration. It should also come with a fanless cooling system and a solid state hard drive. Neither has moving parts, which prevents them from being shaken into ruin by constant motion. 

Weather Resistant

Fleet vehicles are subject to weather extremes. This is especially true for those routinely making trips across the US. Temperatures can range from an average low of 27F throughout the northern states in January to the mid-80s in the southwest in the summer. 

Vehicles must also contend with high humidity, rain, and snow. Any of these could enter a computer and damage the electronics. High winds can also bring dust and debris. 

Power Flexibility

Fleet vehicles operate with a wide range of power standards and inputs. Voltages can surge between 6 to 36 depending on the application. A consumer-grade PC, which handles set voltages like 3.3, 5, and 12, would quickly break down. A computer for a fleet vehicle must have the ability to deal with these changes.

There’s also ignition control. When a vehicle starts up, power voltage starts at 12. It then drops to 6 before going up again. A PC must be able to work with the vehicle’s ignition control which tells it to wait for the power to stabilize before turning on. 

The fleet vehicle may also have unique needs like powering on-board cameras. These could be installed to track the inventory of a cargo van or help a bus driver keep an eye on passengers. Computers equipped with Power Over Ethernet (PoE) ports provide the necessary power to run such devices without straining it or the vehicle’s power. 

Portability through Tablets

Sometimes companies don’t want a PC installed permanently in their fleet vehicles. Instead, they want to be able to take it in and out as needed.  

In these cases, fleet managers should look at rugged industrial tablets. They are built like the rugged mini PCs, with industrial grade parts and certified against shock and vibration. Fanless cooling and solid state drive also protect against wear-and-tear from the elements. A VESA docking station makes sure the tablet is mounted securely within the vehicle. 

Tablets will not have all the features found in a mini PC like PoE for accessories. Their mobility gives them other uses. Drivers can use the built-in webcam to make recordings at a job site, for example. And a barcode scanner or RFID reader would allow workers to take inventory of cargo as it’s unloaded from a fleet van.

Closing Thoughts

The management of fleet vehicles has unique issues from driving conditions, power fluxes, to portability. Contact an expert at Cybernet if you’re trying to decide what’s the best PC for your fleet management needs. Also follow Cybernet on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin to stay up to date on this and other relevant topics.