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2018 is here and it’s time to think about setting your business up for success this year. Most of the time, we’re stuck in the mire of day-to-day workloads and a never-ending to-do list. But the start of a new year is a chance for a fresh start and some big picture thinking.

The last few years presented massive change for every industry, and 2018 will be no different. We already know that transport professionals are heavily investing in new technology, and changes to Chain of Responsibility legislation are on the horizon. So, what steps can you take to guarantee a successful year amid all this disruption?

  1. Put Safety at the Centre of your Business

With 42 per cent of all workplace deaths caused by a vehicle collision, any business with a fleet should consider safety its top priority. Yet figures from Safe Work Australia show the number of worker fatalities in transport -- 65 in 2017 -- are considerably higher than last year. Make 2018 the year that your business fully embraces a safe working culture. A collaborative process involving extensive training, ongoing education for all staff, real-time data on driver behaviour and support from the top. There should never be a question of whether to act in an unsafe way to get the job done faster. Start the year on the right foot with a training programs and staff support that are designed to address common unsafe driving habits.

  1. Identify Opportunities to Reduce Costs

Managing costs is a consistent challenge for any fleet. Unfortunately, a narrow focus on your bottom line can mean other things, like strategic thinking and company culture, take a back seat. With fuel prices expected to rise over the next few years, now is the time to reduce unnecessary costs where possible.

A GPS tracking system installed in your vehicles gives you otherwise inaccessible data that lets you pinpoint areas of wasted money. You might find that drivers are idling and burning through fuel, or braking too harshly, exhausting tyres and increasing maintenance costs. Perhaps smarter routing and job scheduling will leave you with unused vehicles that can be stripped from your fleet. Easing these cost pressures gives you a chance to focus on other important elements of your business – especially customer and employee wellbeing.

  1. Keep an Eye on Emerging Technology

Technology has already changed the status quo in transport and freight, and it won’t slow down in 2018. US tech company Thor Trucks recently released an electric heavy-duty truck with a regenerative braking system that allows for less maintenance and improved safety. And electric vehicles aren’t far off from becoming a feature in the local freight market. Earlier this month, South Australia, Western Australia, The ACT, Adelaide and Hobart signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Electric Vehicle Council to increase the number of electric vehicles in government fleets. Other technologies, like the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles and drone deliveries, are gathering speed all over the world. Early adopters of these innovations will be miles ahead of competitors, gaining new ground in safety and efficiency.

  1. Think a Few Steps Ahead

Successful businesses are always looking to the future. With the right technology at hand, you can get a head-start on an efficient and productive year. One example is using telematics to put preventative maintenance schedules in place. Rather than waiting until a vehicle has reached breaking point and your driver is stranded on the side of a remote highway, use telematics data to notify drivers when a service is due. Electronic work diaries will also soon be an approved alternative to paper logbooks, so why not get a step ahead and implement them now for greater visibility into driver hours and fatigue compliance?

If 2017 taught us anything, it’s that the next 12 months are likely to involve a lot of change (and many surprises). With a little forward planning and the right tools at your disposal, you can set your business up to withstand any unexpected hurdles and get a few steps ahead of the pack.

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Megan Duncan is a Director of Marketing at Teletrac Navman.

Megan Duncan is the Director of Marketing, Australasia at Teletrac Navman. Megan has 10+ years experience in marketing technology solutions with background in Telecommunications and IT channels.