Using data to effectively manage your fleet, reduce operating costs

Frank Bussone Headshot

When it comes to reducing your fleet’s operating cost, data can make all the difference. However, fleet managers need to ensure they have the right data and that it’s of the best quality. The integrity of your data is critical.

The top sources are financing/accounting data, maintenance and repair information, fuel costs and telematics data.

From telematics devices fleets can get information on utilization, fuel economy and driver performance. Maintenance and repair constitute a large portion of a fleet’s operating cost.  The visibility into those costs, at the VRMS code level and at the repair order level, let’s you know what kind of action needs to be take once the exact repair costs are identified.

These sources will give you a wealth of data. But merely having data is not enough. You need the data to provide you with actionable insights. If all you have is raw data, finding ways to improve your operating efficiency will be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

The best way to make data actionable is to use business intelligence software that ties data from a variety of sources together and then links that dataset to each asset by its VIN or unit number. The business intelligence software measures different data points that are important to a particular fleet and consolidates the data into a snapshot of each asset’s health and performance.

When the performance of an asset falls outside the set performance goals, an exception report is issued telling the fleet manager that the asset is being underutilized, has fallen below the fleet’s desired MPG level, is experiencing high maintenance and repair expenses, or has failed to meet one of the fleet’s other performance metrics.

The fleet manager can take the information from the exception report to drill down to determine exactly what is going on with the underperforming asset, address the issue and get the truck back to its proper operating level and off the exception report. Once the truck is off the report, the fleet can quantify the savings.

Fleets can see, for example, that in a particular location one asset is only running 500 miles a month while all the others are logging 2,000 miles a month. Or, if an asset is experiencing poor fuel economy compared to the fleet’s expectation, the fleet manager can drill down to see that driver behavior is the cause and work on coaching the driver to drive with fuel efficiency in mind.

Another example is an asset that is costing the fleet $2 per mile to operate when the average trucks are operating at $1.50 per mile. Receiving a notification about the poorly performing asset allows the fleet manager to make the changes needed to get the truck back to what it should be.

In some cases, KPIs can be location specific with the fleets various depots. Fleets need to set KPIs based upon areas they want to monitor and manage in order to improve performance.

It is best to look at data on a per asset basis, but it can be viewed more broadly, for example, by model year. However, the further back you go, the more you risk leaving money on the table because you will not be managing your fleet as effectively as you could.

Frank Bussone is vice president of technology and analytics for Corcentric. He has spent more than 25 years providing business analytics and business intelligence to the transportation and real estate industries. For the past 10 years, he has helped Corcentric customers find lower cost solutions for their truck fleets by working through the big data broadcasted from trucks. Bussone is a CTP (Certified Transportation Professional) and received his Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida Atlantic University.