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August 14, 2018

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Using Data For Better Fleet Management

By Jake Civitts, PacLease Director of Franchise Operations

With all the changes in truck technology, there is data coming in from virtually every angle. How do you make sense of it all and how can you put the information to work for you?

Prioritize!  Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

There are so many different “top” data points – it really boils down to what is important to the business and the culture of the fleet as to what is important for optimization.  Obviously, safety is a top priority and the data around that is paramount. But, you can also prioritize data around uptime, maintenance costs, depreciation, operating expenses (insurance, compliance), and driver retention.

When it comes to operations, we suggest you look at vehicle, financial, and performance data and then blend the three based on your goals and immediate needs.

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So, what’s what?  Let’s look at vehicle data first – metrics like overall mileage, idle time, fuel efficiency, number of stops, and route planning are key points.  From these you should be able to identify wasteful practices and opportunities for improvement. By knowing how each truck (and driver) are performing, you can use the data to pull low performers up to levels of your top performers. That’s money in the bank.

With financial data like – operating costs (tires, parts, insurance), vehicle deprecation, or rental expense, fleet managers can make decisions about what is driving the expense side of the business and evaluate what kind of returns they are getting from the operation of the fleet.  If the company is very return-on-asset (ROA) focused then they can get a better understanding of how the actions support the organizations.

Finally, with performance data (on time deliveries, service level, route adherence, customer satisfaction, etc.) fleet managers can determine if they are accomplishing the overall business objectives or if there could be improvement.

Once fleet managers have access to the data, then the work of interpretation begins. Don’t be afraid to pull in others to help you crunch the information.  For example, controllers tend to be better at spotting financial trends or outliers in certain segments.  Operations managers may help explain some exceptions. With the data fleet managers can start making decision based on facts and not just what happened most recently.

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And, don’t forget to use outside resources to help focus on specific areas and specific data sources.  Truck leasing, fleet management, truck OEs, finance sources and peer groups can all help fleet managers investigate various ways to improve their operations and continue to exceed their goals.

At PacLease, we put into practice what we preach.  If we’re more efficient, it means we can make you more efficient. We continuously have several efficiency projects underway and vehicle performance is one area we focus data analysis. For example, at PacLease shops, maintenance repair information for rental vehicles has been parsed beyond the standard reports from the service system and analyzed to identify the rate of unplanned repair by vehicle and customer type.  Translated, it means we get data to verify efficient shop practices. And that means a reduction in more costly out-of-shop repair events by performing up-front maintenance that produces optimum vehicle performance.

All told, once data becomes a part of your management toolbox, it can be leveraged across the organization through report-card type monthly monitoring and goal setting. Using data to support the decision making process is one of the key traits of successful companies.  The days of “winging it” are long gone.

Feel free to ping us if you’re interested in learning more or have a detailed data question (big or small).

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