Sometimes a partial picture feels like it tells the entire story. With your fleet, for instance. You know how many vehicles you have, what kinds they are, where they’re located, when they are scheduled for preventive maintenance, and when they will cycle out for replacement.
Sure, you’ve checked all the major vehicle lifecycle milestone boxes. However, to best understand the “how” and the “why” for your fleet, you need to focus on feedback as well as data coming from your vehicles, your drivers and your vendors. While the granular details are important, blending them together into a holistic picture is how you’ll ultimately visualize your fleet’s contribution to your company’s success.
Ready for the Big Picture? Start with the “How?”
One of ARI’s distribution clients recently undertook an initiative to see the full picture of the utilization of its fleet of 1,000 vehicles, comprised of mostly vans and light-duty trucks. The client’s fleet manager didn’t want to settle for knowing just how many and what kinds of vehicles he had in the fleet. His ultimate goal was to better support his company’s day-to-day business needs by identifying the most effective and cost-efficient models within each vehicle class.
To best understand how the vehicles were being used, we visited several of the client’s facilities to observe the fleet in action. We also compiled a photo library of active inventory to help understand both the condition and application of fleet vehicles. With this understanding of the fleet operation, the next step was to identify any data trends to reduce inefficiencies.
Adding the “Why” into the Equation
Combining the knowledge gained through the onsite inspections with in-depth data analysis, we targeted key improvement areas for our client:
Vehicle Design & Driver Productivity – Van interior layouts were not optimized for storing cargo and/or tools, and some vans were too tall for parking garages on the distribution routes. More than 50 percent of vehicles were purchased out of stock, which drove up acquisition costs and required additional upfit time.
Operating Cost & Downtime – The scissor mechanism on the client’s box trucks had a high rate of failure, and the vendor assigned for repair could not repair them in a timely or cost-effective fashion.
Turning the “How” and “Why” into Big Picture Action
Now that we understood the “how” and the “why”, it was time to make recommendations to change the long-term outcome. We armed our client with the information needed to pitch a new standardized catalog of truck specifications. This foundational initiative would set his company up for future success in terms of improved driver productivity, reduced downtime, and financial savings:
- Improved vehicle design and engineering – to empower drivers to do their jobs productively and safely
- Streamlined ordering process – to reduce costly out-of-stock purchases below 50 percent, and reduce upfit time
- Expanded to a nationwide truck body upfitter – to ensure convenient and timely support for both vehicle deliveries and repairs
- Enforced a replacement schedule and policy – to reduce operating costs and downtime from failures by reining in the 20 percent of vehicles outside recommended replacement parameters
The recommendation was approved, and our client forged ahead with his ARI team to develop a full specification catalog and replacement policy. We will continue to support this client’s progress through this initiative and quantify the results over time.
Start Visualizing Your Big Picture
Once you observe the Big Picture of your fleet—the vehicles that are creating the majority of expenses and the trends that you can prevent, you’ll always crave more than basic insight. When you combine vehicle data, vendor data, and driver feedback, you have the insight to position fleet as a major driver of your company’s pursuit of success.