It seems like every day there is news of some new technology available that will make trucks either safer or more efficient. It can be confusing to know which technologies make sense for your fleet. The wrong decision can be costly. However, not exploring these new technologies is not really an option, either. Refusing to invest in technology can make it more difficult to attract and retain drivers and can end up negatively affecting your total cost of ownership. On the other hand, you can’t just rush out and invest in every new thing that comes on the market.
Choosing the right technology for your fleet should be a well-thought-out and measured process that is used for each new technology you are considering.
The first step is to have a thorough understanding of all of your duty cycles, as well as knowing how efficient and/or safe you are in each market segment. Also, make sure you have goals as to what you are hoping to achieve by investing in the new technology and establish KPIs that will allow you to determine if you achieve those goals.
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Next, begin to gather information about the technology you are considering. Make sure to vet the manufacturer of the technology but be careful not to dismiss products from new entrants in the field. Read the literature from the manufacturer but also try to find information from independent sources.
Reach out to other fleets to find out what their real-world experience has been with the technology. Efficiency or safety gains achieved on a test track or in a limited trial are helpful, but it is best to have data from fleets that are actually using the technology in their day-to-day operations.
Select a sample number of your own vehicles to have the technology installed on or order a percentage of your new vehicles spec’d with the new technology.
Consistently track the performance of the new technology using the KPIs you had previously set. Analyze the performance data to determine if it makes sense to deploy this technology throughout your operation, in select parts of your fleet, or if this is a technology that does not make sense for you.
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To the extent possible it may be wise to not layer in multiple technologies at once. Whether you are trying to improve safety or fuel economy, doing too much at once can dilute the results or at least make it harder for you to know for certain which technology contributed to your results, positive or negative. One option is to set up a control group, then a group with technology A and a third with technology B then compare the results. That way you will be able to see how each technology performed and what it actually contributed to efficiency or safety.
When it comes to technology, it is not necessarily all or nothing. It really is about finding the right technologies that make sense for you and have the return on investment that you need.
Gino Fontana, CTP, is COO and EVP at Transervice Logistics Inc. Prior to this recent promotion, he was VP of operations at Berkeley Division and Puerto Rico. His operational expertise emphasizes cost savings, process efficiency and improvement, superior quality, and people management skills. He has more than 35 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry with both operational and sales experience.