Quest Resource Management Group
Many fleets prioritize cost control over sustainability. However, there are steps fleet managers can take to achieve both sustainability and cost savings.

Unlocking fleet sustainability in 2024: Expert strategies for success

March 28, 2024
Cost control is often prioritized over sustainability in many fleets. However, there are steps fleet managers can take to achieve both sustainability and cost savings.

Sustainable transportation is becoming increasingly important not just to reduce pollution but also as a necessary step for the future. The numbers speak for themselves: U.S. fleets drive an average of 93 billion miles every year. This means that if the industry uses 50 billion gallons of gasoline, it results in 1.5 billion tons of CO2 per year (or more than 3 million tons per day) invading our air supply.

Despite these staggering statistics, many fleet businesses often prioritize cost control over sustainability. However, there are small yet impactful steps that fleet managers can take to achieve both sustainability and cost savings.

By reviewing and implementing these simple solutions, fleets can overcome sustainability barriers.

Delivering the right ROI with innovative initiatives

Return on investment is a critical factor in making strategic decisions within an enterprise. Nowadays, companies of all sizes are under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, which puts fleet managers in a difficult position. They have to balance the costs of pursuing sustainability, safety, equipment upgrades, and driver productivity. 

To achieve these goals, fleet managers can adopt some management approaches, such as:

  • Vehicle utilization (rightsizing) and reducing idle vehicle rates
  • Tracking driver behavior and optimizing routes
  • Digitizing the process and replacing paper records

However, making fleet-related decisions without a clear picture of ROI can be risky as it could result in guesswork at best and financial losses at worst. 

Solution: To validate the effectiveness of strategies and optimize the operational process to boost profitability, consider these practices:

  • Data mining: Mining the vast amount of data available to fleet professionals can be overwhelming. If the data is collected and managed properly and consistently, it can provide an opportunity to reduce costs and boost sustainable results. Accurate data can help identify usage patterns related to tire pressure, fluid levels, or excessive idling, allowing for effective and practical responses to disruptions and determining which changes can generate efficiency and profitability.
  • Reporting: Comprehensive assessment and data-driven reporting work in harmony to optimize vehicle fleets. By tracking vehicles and utilizing data, businesses can determine which ones are ineffective and rightsize their fleets. Reporting the results can help businesses benchmark themselves against others and unlock new, innovative business goals for sustainable fleet management.
  • Recycling common waste: It is tempting to throw away used parts and fluids, but materials such as tires, oil, windows, scrap metal, and batteries can be recycled and reused instead. We can give these items a new life and save money or even earn more by recycling them.  

See also: Pre-Check: AI in fleet management today

Moving to an electric fleet

The federal government has recently announced its goal of achieving half of all new-vehicle sales to be electric by 2030. In response to this, fleets are considering EVs as a solution to meet sustainability goals. Depending on the size of a fleet, one of the growing concerns is to find an EV with a sufficient range to fulfill its needs. 

Solution: Some companies offer services to help determine if EVs are viable for a specific fleet. They can also assist in finding ways to transition to electric vehicles. For instance, there may be other suitable options for long-distance hauling. Sometimes, increased charging stops and longer trips to follow EV routes may result in higher costs due to increased vehicle downtime and more miles on the road. Working with a partner can ensure that fleets are well-informed about the viability of electric vehicles and whether other cost-effective solutions, such as data-powered programs, can produce sustainable results.

Minimize the cost of repairs 

It is not your imagination; motor vehicle repair bills are becoming more costly. Repair expenses have increased by nearly 20% in the last year alone. The reason for this increase in repair costs is due to a variety of factors such as the current state of the economy, shortages of parts and auto repair technicians, and the growing complexity of modern vehicles.

For fleet managers specifically, this is not good news. 

Commercial fleet vehicles spend noticeably more time on the road than personal vehicles, making their maintenance requirements complex and crucial. However, if fleets are well-maintained, it can help avoid costly and extensive repairs while keeping vehicles on the road and serving customers and in turn can help reduce emissions.

Solution: It is important to consider fleet maintenance as an investment for future savings, even though it can be expensive. Vehicles that are neglected often require more costly repairs in the long run and consume more fuel due to inefficient performance. Thus, it is crucial to understand the significance of fleet maintenance and how data analysis can help boost sustainability while avoiding significant expenses later.

To optimize fleet management and extend the lifespan of a truck, managers should focus on:

  • Scheduling: Most vehicles require oil and filter changes every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Meanwhile, more significant maintenance procedures are necessary at the 30,000-, 60,000-, and 90,000-mile marks. Vehicles equipped with sensors can ensure that each vehicle receives timely maintenance. In addition, they can help stagger appointments so that fleets will never be without vehicles for an extended period of time.
  • Driver reporting: Drivers typically report their mileage, but other issues with vehicles may go unnoticed. To prevent this, implementing a program or telematics system can help you identify any vehicle problems without relying on drivers. By using automatic fleet maintenance scheduling and other alerts, vehicles can be tracked remotely, which allows drivers to focus on their service while giving managers peace of mind that minor issues will not turn into major, costly ones.

Effective fleet management can unlock significant cost savings and efficiency gains. By focusing on data-driven assessments, reporting, and vehicle maintenance, businesses can improve service quality, safety, and reliability.

About the Author

Ray Hatch

Ray Hatch has served as president and CEO of Quest Resource Management Group since February 2016. A senior executive with experience building profitable businesses and orchestrating transformational growth, Ray brings over 25 years of experience in the waste management and food services industries. He has managed businesses with as many as 600+ employees and more than one billion dollars in revenue. Previously, Ray served as president of Merchants Market Group, an international food service distribution company. Ray also served in various executive roles with Oakleaf Waste Management, a provider of waste outsourcing that was acquired by Waste Management.

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