AI, recruitment, EVs, and communication are all part of the changes happening in the fleet industry.   -  Photo: Government Fleet

AI, recruitment, EVs, and communication are all part of the changes happening in the fleet industry. 

Photo: Government Fleet

The one thing we can all count on is change. To me, that’s what makes working in the fleet industry so exciting. There is always something evolving or changes coming that allow us the opportunity to look at what we are doing and ask if it can be done in a better way.

A few things are trending right now in our industry that I am excited to watch evolve and challenge us for change. I am very excited about the potential trends AI can help facilitate in fleet management. AI has been around for quite some time and the automotive industry has been at the forefront of its development with technologies like predictive driver assist features.

Artificial Intelligence and the Fleet

Today, AI is now more accessible to the layperson than ever. I am already dreaming about how this tool can potentially assist us further with life cycle cost analysis and predictive maintenance analytics. But before we jump in with two feet, I have learned from our IT that we should make sure we understand the limitations and risks that go along with using this technology.

For example, what are the data ownership, security, and protected information implications? If we put sensitive data into the program, that data may be out there for the world. Also, AI results should not be taken at face value and results returned should be evaluated for accuracy.

Another consideration is that AI is continually learning and the information submitted can affect future results in a potentially negative way. So I think it is incumbent on us all to have an understanding of these programs so we know what implications they might have for us both personally and professionally.

Transforming Transportation with Electrification 

Another interesting trend has been the evolution of battery electric vehicles. It’s been exciting to evaluate and demo different equipment that is being created to meet these demands. Opportunities are not just with vehicles but utility vehicles, agricultural, construction, and lawn equipment. Some of these technologies are transforming transportation.

While recently on a trip in New York City, I was amazed at the speed and number of electric bikes used in the city. The electric bikes allowed operators to cut through traffic and save time on deliveries. However, I worried about safety as they zipped quickly through traffic. While these changes are coming, it’s also important that we understand the full implications of rolling out electric resources and that we have a responsibility to bring this information to the forefront of the decision-makers and those rolling out policies in order to make informed decisions.

Recruitment and a New Way of Communication

The changes in our available workforce have been another interesting trend. It has forced many of us to get creative in the hiring or recruitment processes. We’ve increased participation with job fairs, sought creative advertisement strategies, and scheduled informational sessions with schools about the benefits of working in government fleet and the automotive industry.

All these things are beneficial for our industry. Also, as more and more retire and leave the workforce, it’s been interesting to watch one shop go from several seasoned team members to several new-generation team members. This has challenged us to alter the way we communicate with our team. The new generations seem to want to be connected to a bigger purpose and to understand the way in which we do things.

They are also not afraid to ask questions and advocate when they feel we are lacking. We should ask ourselves the same questions and challenge ourselves to bring forth positive changes in the way we operate and conduct business for all.

Sara Burnam is the fleet management director for Palm Beach County, Florida. She was named the 2023 Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year. 

This article was authored and edited according to Government Fleet editorial standards and style. Opinions expressed may not reflect those of Government Fleet.