The right technology plus the right driver: A winning combination

June 29, 2017
In order for a fleet to achieve its fuel economy goals it needs the right combination of technologies and driver engagement.

In order for a fleet to achieve its fuel economy goals it needs the right combination of technologies and driver engagement.

And while some technology — like automated transmissions — lessens the impact of the driver on the fuel economy equation, the actions of the drivers still matter. Things like hard braking, time at idle, time in cruise control, operating speed (if speed is not governed by the fleet) and “jack rabbit” starts are all under the driver’s control.

Often time when fuel economy is talked about, a fleet will give its fleet-wide average. It’s important to note that an “average” means some drivers are doing better, but also that some are doing worse.

The challenge for many fleets that are trying to raise their fuel economy average is that they need improve the fuel efficiency of the drivers at the bottom of the curve.

A strategy that has shown some success is gamification. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines gamification this way: the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation.

Scott Sutarik, associate vice president, commercial vehicle solutions at Geotab, says “Gamification allows a fleet to better measure and rank drivers based on what is important to them.”

He adds, “Gamification plays on the competitive nature that all humans have to want to be better. We've seen drivers use their scores as a way to measure improvements and consistently beat yesterday.”

When looking at a gamification solution for your drivers, look for one that has flexible KPIs. That way you can decide which areas should have more weight. Driver evaluations are usually based on two key components: safety and productivity.

The solution should give you data about things like: rapid deceleration, idle time, time in cruise, etc. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to improving fuel economy and each fleet needs to look at its baseline numbers to see areas where it needs improvement.

Giving drivers truck equipped with fuel saving technologies is a good first step toward improving your fleet’s MPG number. Gamifying your drivers engages them in the quest for better fuel economy and should lead to even more fuel economy gains.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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