Fleetowner 5364 Spring Hill

By design

June 9, 2015
Landscape company boosts productivity, cuts fuel use with tracking software

Few things can kill fuel mileage and increase fuel costs more than excessive idling. While a company policy may require vehicles to be shut down during times of loading and unloading, without technology that automatically does so, it is left up to drivers to manage.

When Singing Hills Landscape wanted to get a handle on its fuel costs, it realized that improper routing might also be playing a role. So it turned to fleet tracking software. After researching solutions, the Aurora, CO, company chose a product from GPS Insight.

“I would notice one of our trucks pull past me into the yard, and five minutes later I would go by [and] the engine was still running,” said Blake Lehr, asset manager of the fleet, which provides commercial landscape services with more than 20 vehicles in the greater Denver area.

Lehr believed company vehicles were being left running during times when crews were loading and unloading material. What was more surprising was the number of trips crews were making to home improvement stores to pick up materials. Receipts indicated that multiple trips a day were being made.

The GPS Insight software allowed Singing Hills to set up landmarks around these stores to see just how often vehicles were visiting.

“We were surprised to see how often crews were going to these stores. In one instance, I saw a crew go to the same home improvement store five times in one day,” said Lehr. “That is at least five hours of productivity lost, including drive time, and even more time lost for every additional member of the crew that would tag along.”

Lehr said that tracking the crews with GPS Insight found an average of between four and five trips a week to the stores per crew. He estimated each visit cost the company $75 in lost labor per employee and the business a minimum of $3,900 a year. Addressing this inefficiency alone has saved the fleet over $3,100 and reduced the number of trips to less than two per week, per crew.

That same approach was applied to local gas stations; Singing Hills found some drivers were visiting in the middle of the day, reducing work productivity. Policies were implemented requiring drivers to only stop for fuel at the beginning or at the end of the day.

Going further, routing improvements were implemented after reviewing GPS Insight’s visual historical reporting tool. By seeing how vehicles get to and from jobsites, the company is able to determine whether the most efficient routes are being taken.

“When we ask a driver why they took a certain route to a jobsite and they say it was because of construction or other traffic delays, we are able to verify if that was true,” said Lehr.

Back to the original purpose of the solution, the fleet has been able to cut its fuel costs through reduced idling.

“We found that on average, our crews were idling for a total of around 9 hours a week, which translates to 4.5 gals. per week and about 16 gals. of wasted fuel a month,” said Lehr.

Idle time has been reduced 63% through driver coaching, he added. Using GPS Insight Alerts has also led to a 37% reduction of speeding incidents with improved driver behavior.

Lehr said that the use of GPS Insight has been a great solution for the company.

“GPS Insight has a great product and great support staff. I have never had a problem getting ahold of support, and they have always been friendly and willing to help, even with more obscure requests for reports,” said Lehr.

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