For some, “data” can be an intimidating term.
And the thought of using it for day-to-day decisions seems lofty, impractical or expensive.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of your business, but important that you utilize your full arsenal of tools – data is your ally, not your enemy.
Data isn’t just about computer servers and mobile apps.
In fact, there is information right at your fingertips that can greatly improve the efficiency of your fleet.
Listen to What Your Equipment Tells You
Fleet owners don’t need to rely solely on their drivers to watch out for impending issues and potential downtime. Simply plugging in your equipment’s computer on a regular basis can reveal the following:
- Fuel used
- Fuel economy
- Idle time and percentage of fuel used
- DPF [diesel particulate filter] usage
- Number of engine regens for DPFs
When monitored consistently, this data can indicate potential trouble brewing underneath the hood. For instance, if a truck’s fuel economy takes a sudden dip, it may be time for a closer inspection to ensure fuel injectors, tire pressure and filters are all operating at ideal levels.
Every time a rig comes in for maintenance, it’s worth taking the time to plug in the computer to see what’s happening in the truck’s engine. Identifying issues before they become problems decreases downtime.
Do the Math
In addition to the data collected from the equipment, it’s important to do some math on your own.
When fleet owners come to us, we walk them through a straightforward but important exercise that helps calculate fleet downtime, overall fuel efficiency and lost revenue.
Using shop records, transportation group monitor and annual revenue statements, the measures we work through with owners are:
- Basic maintenance costs (includes routine checkups and costs of parts)
- Additional repair costs (includes any shop visits not considered routine)
- Total fleet hours spent in the shop
- Overall fleet fuel economy
- Expected return on equipment per mile or per hour
Once these measures are calculated, fleet owners can truly understand their loss revenue—and what affects it specifically. Many owners are surprised to find how much unexpected repairs and low fuel economy impact their bottom line. Just improving fuel mileage by an achievable 3% or 4% can enhance profitability.
Data doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Using some simple tools and crunching a few numbers can increase your fleet’s profitability and efficiency for years to come.
—Ron Jessen, author of this post, is director of product management and business development for Cenex brand refined fuels. Ron says he is “passionate” about developing products to help fleet owners and farmers succeed.