Truck fleet management is a complex process.
It requires careful consideration of driver training, maintenance costs, fuel efficiency, and federal regulations — all while trying to minimize costs for your business.
In this post, we’ll cover some of the ways you can streamline fleet management and control your costs.
What Are the Key Elements of Effective Truck Fleet Management?
The following list outlines the key components of successful fleet management.
Driver Recruitment and Hiring
Even if human resources personnel manage the recruitment and hiring process, fleet managers are usually involved in the driver-vetting process. They may also manage performance evaluations, driver salary increases, and progressive discipline.
Driver and Route Management
Fleet managers are responsible for overseeing and optimizing routes, scheduling drivers, and ensuring drivers maintain proper credentials.
With large, long-haul fleets, fleet managers have to evaluate driver performance remotely. That typically means reviewing hours-of-service logs and using GPS to see where drivers are in real-time.
Idling or rapidly accelerating can increase fuel consumption, so fleet managers may also review fuel usage to spot these driving habits.
Preventative maintenance (PM) is the process of scheduling maintenance to keep trucks in good working order. It may also involve predictive maintenance (PdM) technology that monitors truck performance and alerts fleet managers when something isn’t working properly.
Managing a truck fleet requires mindfulness of how you’re allocating resources to determine whether you need to:
- Add new trucks
- Retire or upgrade old ones
- Find new software solutions to support fleet management
- Bring on new personnel
- Schedule additional training for drivers
Fleet managers may be responsible for creating and enforcing internal policies that relate to driving and drivers. They also oversee driver and truck compliance with applicable state and federal regulations.
Managing Fuel Costs
Fuel costs are a major expense, and reducing them is a big part of fleet management. Fleet managers may use a combination of approaches to minimize fuel costs, such as:
- Optimizing routes
- Eliminating less-than-truckload deliveries
- Adding alt-fuel vehicles to their fleet
- Outfitting trucks with aerodynamic devices
Controlling fuel costs is an ongoing task, especially because the cost of diesel is so unpredictable.
What Are the Challenges Fleet Managers Face Today?
Fleet managers face challenges that can increase costs and decrease efficiency if they don’t use the right solutions.
Here are some common issues fleet managers face.
Recruiting and Retaining Drivers
The transportation industry faces a shortage of 80,000 drivers, and the American Trucking Associations predict this number to reach 160,000 by 2030.
So, finding and keeping quality drivers is essential for the success of your fleet. Poorly trained or inexperienced drivers can lead to unnecessary costs, while experienced, well-trained drivers keep your fleet running safely and efficiently.
You’ll need to establish an effective recruitment strategy that includes:
- Employee referrals
- Online postings
- Driver incentives
Complying With Laws and Emissions Standards
Fleet managers must stay up to date with federal, state, and local regulations to ensure compliance.
Understanding these rules is essential for avoiding costly fines and other penalties. Remember that regulations vary by state, making it more difficult for companies in interstate commerce to keep track of them.
For example, the California Air Resource Board (CARB) no longer registers diesel vehicles that weigh over 14,000 pounds or have engines from 2009 or earlier. So, you may need to upgrade or replace vehicles to meet emissions standards.
Unpredictable Fuel Costs
The cost of diesel depends on foreign market fluctuations and supply chain costs.
This makes it difficult to budget for the fleet because of unpredictable fuel prices. To help offset this unpredictability, you can use multiple approaches to maximize efficiency and reduce fuel expenditures.
You can increase fleet efficiency through aerodynamic devices such as side skirts and gap reducers, which drag on the truck. Another solution is to use advanced analytics and truck tracking technology to monitor driver behavior.
This will enable you to identify issues like idling, speeding, and excessive braking that can increase fuel costs.
What Resources Can Help With Fleet Management?
Boosting efficiency and profitability with a reliable fleet management system is essential to any business that specializes in commercial vehicles.
Plenty of tools and technologies are available to help you manage your fleet. Fleet managers who take advantage of these resources can ensure their fleets run optimally, enabling them to maintain a competitive edge.
Biodiesel and natural gas can help reduce emissions while keeping costs low.
There are also various incentives, grants, and tax credits that can help fleets manage the costs of switching to alternative fuels.
Gas Discount Cards
Gas discount cards help you save money on fuel without your drivers having to search for the best prices. Many of these cards also link to an app that tracks fuel expenses, so you get real-time visibility into your fuel costs.
Hiring Bonuses and Benefits
Recruiting and retaining quality drivers is essential to the success of your fleet.
Consider offering perks like:
- Sign-on bonuses
- Health insurance
- A 401(k) plan
- Paid time off
- Tuition reimbursement
Some in-cab technology falls short of what fleet managers need. For example, the earliest lane departure warning systems issued driver alerts but didn’t record lane departures, which means fleet managers might not know if drivers were prone to drifting off while behind the wheel. Telematics combines software and hardware to sense events or conditions as they occur and relay that information to a digital platform that fleet managers can access.
One application of this tech is TruckWings, an aerodynamic device that minimizes drag, improves stability, and reduces fuel costs by up to 6%. Software deploys the “wings” based on driving speed and collects data, with no input needed from drivers.
Take Control of Your Fleet Management With TruckLabs
Contact us today to learn how TruckWings can lower your fuel costs.