Right-sizing

One size doesn't fit all when it comes to onboard communications equipment. Penske Truck Leasing understands this and has put a lot of effort into creating solutions that meet the varying needs of its customers, from private fleets with just one truck, to those with thousands of vehicles. Jim Feenstra, senior vp-marketing at Penske says, We talked to fleets extensively [about their technology needs]

One size doesn't fit all when it comes to onboard communications equipment. Penske Truck Leasing understands this and has put a lot of effort into creating solutions that meet the varying needs of its customers, from private fleets with just one truck, to those with thousands of vehicles.

Jim Feenstra, senior vp-marketing at Penske says, “We talked to fleets extensively [about their technology needs] and evaluated a lot of different products on the market.” One of the things they said they liked was the concept of one-stop shopping. And they felt that Penske, as their transportation provider, should understand and support them in their efforts to use technology cost-effectively to better run their fleets.

Taking on the role of technology provider, Penske introduced a product called the Fleet I.Q. system 18 months ago. According to Feenstra, Fleet I.Q. integrates applications developed by Xata Corp., including GPS, mapping, vehicle and driver performance tracking, automated driver logs and fuel tax reporting, as well as “black box” capability for accident reconstruction.

“But not every customer wants or can use every one of the available tools in the Fleet I.Q. system,” Feenstra points out, “so we offer different price points based on their individual needs.” Penske, he adds, has also discovered that some customers, especially smaller-sized fleets, want just the ability to locate their trucks on occasion, such as when a truck is running late. For these customers, the leasing company introduced another product in the third quarter of last year called Fleet InSite.

Fleet InSite is a low-cost, web-based vehicle tracking solution Penske developed in partnership with EVA (Enhanced Vehicle Applications), Green Bay, WI. “A great advantage of FleetInsite,” Feenstra says, “is that customers can use and pay for it on an as-needed basis.”

Just as important to Penske is the technology it uses to maintain its customers' trucks. Bob Douglas, vp-maintenance Penske Truck Leasing, says an emergency Call Center located at the company's corporate offices in Green Hills, PA, is available to fleets 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“We have the technology in place at the Call Center to tie-in with the Fleet I.Q. and Fleet InSite systems, as well as any other onboard communications product a customer may use, like Xata or Qualcomm systems. Information from the vehicle, such as fault code messages and GPS locations, is routed to the Center's PC, allowing us to accurately locate the truck and get help out to the driver immediately,” reports Douglas.

PC-based diagnostic and troubleshooting programs from all the major OEMs and component suppliers are available in the shops of all 750 North American Penske Truck Leasing locations. Douglas adds, “With our wireless Internet capability, we can instantly send updates from the manufacturers to all our branches, so they're always working with the latest software. We also now have a common interface box that communicates with every one of those pieces of software, so technicians can get step by step instructions on how to identify and correct the fault codes from any vehicle.”

The company also uses an in-house, PC system that's web-based, so whenever repairs are completed on a truck in one location, the information is also available in real-time to all of the other Penske maintenance facilities in the network. Douglas says this not only helps his organization with internal analysis, but assists fleets by eliminating the chance of unnecessary repeat repairs being made and simplifying DOT audits when they occur as well.

Currently, the Penske Truck Leasing fleet size is over 207,000 vehicles. “We work with all the major OEMs and component suppliers, and we offer customers vehicles in every GVW range from Class 3 to Class 8,” Douglas advises. “Customers, together with our sales and engineering staff, work to develop a long-term lease program that provides the fleet with trucks specifically designed for their application.”

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