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THE BOTTOM LINE

Driving fleets through Singapore's digital revolution

THE fleet landscape in Singapore - from hawker food deliveries to ride-sharing services - has seen tremendous growth in the past five years. In fact, the Singapore e-commerce market - a major driver for the fleet business - is expected to grow to US$5.4 billion by 2025. This remarkable growth and transformation is being driven by evolving digital behaviours and consumer habits. Many of us are using services on a daily basis that were not available just a few short years ago.

Emerging asset-sharing services are driving evolution and rapid growth in the e-commerce sector as Singapore moves towards being the first Smart Nation in the world. The faster the sector grows, the more urgent it becomes to alleviate traditional challenges for load and route optimisation, accurate delivery scheduling, tracking and last mile delivery - a particular challenge in Singapore. Unless these barriers are addressed, fleet growth in Singapore and the region will stagnate and regress in the face of increasing consumer demand.

With rising costs, road congestion, increased demand and growing customer expectations, a notable change in efficiency across the entire fleet chain is critical. It is time for companies to work together in a smarter way to solve the persistent pain points in fleet management. There has been a growing trend of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) digitising business operations to thrive in Singapore's competitive landscape, especially in the areas of e-commerce and fleet management systems, among others. Up to 70 per cent of SMEs surveyed were looking to digitisation to increase revenues and overcome barriers to growth.

Asset sharing may once have been frowned upon, but mindsets are evolving. As business owners look to reduce under-utilised logistics assets and redeploy capital and human resources, fleet managers can leverage new technology to share loads, manage deliveries and remove the capital and operational costs of owning vehicles. For example, one home-grown startup has become a ride-hailing fleet solution for those along the supply chain looking to move shipping containers. Suppliers, distributors, drivers and mobility businesses are all reaping the benefits from this "shared fleet", increasing the efficiency of their deliveries.

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AGGREGATING FLEET SERVICES WITH BIG DATA

Disruption of the status quo is happening across fleet services in a myriad of ways - as service-centric fleets have become even more intrinsic to our everyday lives.

Aiming to eliminate underutilised capacities with half-full or empty trucks, companies are developing data-first methods to better manage demand volatility and identify bottlenecks in the supply chain. Using the Internet of Things and data analytics, these companies are building integrated ecosystems around shippers, transportation companies, authorities and third-party service partners.

Ride-hailing platforms also heavily utilise machine learning to improve the probability of passenger pick-ups, with bigger players offering a slew of new mobility services including fintech, food delivery and business integration solutions. The availability and facility of these platforms is moving more and more vendors and individuals into the ecosystem, driving even more optimisation.

While the pace of change makes it hard to guarantee what will come next, new collaborations from public, private and government players are essential for addressing today's fleet challenges. It is why we have regularly convened energy experts, business leaders, students and CEOs to discuss how modern technology can be implemented to enable sustainable manufacturing and create efficiencies in the supply chain. Organisations across the private and public sectors should continue to discuss issues, share insights and build innovative fleet solutions today. In this environment, Singapore will continue to be an early adopter of new technology, primed to soon become not only an energy hub in Asia but also a mobility hub.

With collaboration at its core, now is the time for fleet companies to support and advance the opportunities that big data brings and adapt to changing consumer behaviours to lead the way for a refreshed and efficient approach to fleet management.

  • The writer is general manager, Fleet Solutions, Asia, at Shell