With so much information available to fleet managers, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with trying to make sense of it. One way to make sure you are seeing the big picture is to set up a regular, systematic review of your fleet’s effectiveness. This will provide you with an accurate picture of what’s occurring fleet-wide and allow you to discover where the fleet is excelling and where problems may be developing.
Here are some key areas that need to be analyzed.
- Perform an equipment audit: Make sure you have all the information on each asset in your fleet, including how it was spec’d from the factory and any devices that may have been added on at the modification center or in the aftermarket. With new technology coming into the market at such a rapid pace, it’s wise to review truck specifications on an annual basis to make sure vehicle specs are correct for your duty cycles. Just because a spec worked for the past five years doesn’t necessarily mean it is right for the next five years. Your needs, or those of your customers, may have changed, necessitating a revised spec. Don't forget the needs of the driver when reviewing your specs. Today’s drivers expect certain amenities on their trucks, especially when it comes to driver comfort and convenience.
- Determine asset utilization: While it’s not possible to achieve 100% utilization — trucks do have to be down for maintenance — the higher percentage the better. Analyzing how often assets are used gives a fleet manager insight into whether he has the right mix of vehicles in the fleet. If certain types of assets have low utilization rates, it could be time to dispose of them or replace them with other vehicles that more closely mesh with your current needs.
- Assess maintenance and repair costs: This can be done on an asset class basis, which will help in future spec’ing decisions, and on an asset-by-asset basis to help determine when it’s time to replace a given asset because it is in the shop too often between PMs and is driving up the total cost of ownership. Make sure to include the cost of maintenance and repair you do in-house as well as what you outsource. It’s also not a bad idea to periodically review the performance of your outside service providers as well as of your own shops to help contain maintenance and repair costs.
- Review existing KPIs: Look at how well you are meeting your KPIs, but also look at the KPIs themselves. Do they still make sense for your fleet? If not, create new KPIs and monitor them on an ongoing basis.
When looking at the effectiveness and efficiency of your operation, look for things that stand out from the norm; those are the things that you need to dig into more deeply in order to figure out exactly what is causing the anomaly so you can take the necessary action to bring them in-line.
One final note, it’s a good idea to benchmark your fleet against the performance of other fleets to see how you stack up.