A fleet manager’s job revolves around getting more out of fleet resources while reducing expenditures. The best way to do that is to continually analyze and optimize how the fleet is used. The more efficient your assets, the more competitive your operations can be. Luckily, manual ways of assessing needs and performance are giving way to information logged straight from your fleet by telematics and other technologies.
Regardless of the method of data collection and reporting, it is important to identify usage patterns, special requirements, and opportunities for improvement — and to be able to respond in real time as things change. Here are three ways to step up your resource allocation game.
Set a Baseline and Measure Utilization
You will need to decide how to measure vehicle usage and cost on an ongoing basis, then design an analytical program to systematically acquire this information.
Start by figuring out how you want to measure utilization. Determine how much each asset is used and whether you will measure by hours, shifts, miles or another factor. You will also want comprehensive information about the costs of ownership, operation and support. This second step is especially important because it will be impossible to reliably measure or improve resource allocation without a comprehensive and reliable maintenance program in place to ensure that equipment is always in proper service condition.
When you have established a satisfactory baseline, evaluate the volumes and capacities of each asset, as well as what customer service requirements they fulfill. For example, if a truck often goes out less than full or only has a few appointments, there might be too much capacity for the service requirements of its route.
You should also examine:
- Hours your drivers and other personnel are available
- Number and duration of stops on all routes
- Vehicle travel patterns in relation to the time of day
- Qualification of staff to meet the current requirements
Look for Opportunities
Once you understand how your equipment is being used, you can identify areas for improvement. If utilization changes season by season, for example, you might be able to convert part of your fleet to a rental or lease program to reduce cost. If you are using specialized equipment to serve a small, specific market, it might be worth a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether the income justifies the expense.
Look for opportunities to time shift delivery or service schedules to accommodate changing traffic patterns during the day. Consider whether adding “off hours” services at lower prices might attract more customers and reduce the time vehicles sit idle in the yard. Examine vehicle usage to determine whether your costs are being driven up by unauthorized use, excessive engine idling, or aggressive driving behavior. With a telematics solution, you can see which vehicles, assets and drivers are outliers that cost more or provide less benefit than the others in your fleet.
Measuring and adjusting how you use your assets is only half the battle, but it is also important to establish ways to adapt, sometimes in real time, to changing conditions and customer demand. If it fits your business model, try planning dynamic routes each day based on the anticipated demand or which locations actually have delivery or service requirements. Pre-planning helps fleet managers and dispatch work around weather, traffic or demand changes more quickly by using the GIS map data available in a telematics solution. Another benefit is improved safety and prepared drivers.
A Telematics Solution is Key
None of this is possible without reliable real-time and historical data. A telematics system is the best way to collect information about where your vehicles are—and where they’ve been—as well as how they are used, engine health, whether they are idling excessively, and much more. Knowing which asset is closest to an unexpected call and being able to redeploy the driver to the right location will help you lower costs and improve customer service. Reports and historical data about your fleet can help you identify bottlenecks and other inefficiencies to speed delivery and service times. To learn more about how CalAmp can help you optimize your fleet resource utilization, visit our commercial fleet page here.