Success in any industry is never the result of a one-time action. It requires ongoing adaptation, so leaders must always look to improve their operations, regardless of their current position. For many businesses, fleet performance is a crucial part of that equation.
Trucks carry 71% of all freight in America, so delays or inefficiencies in road transportation have substantial ripple effects. Conversely, improvements here translate into broader, far-reaching benefits across a company. With that in mind, here are eight innovative strategies for increasing fleet performance.
1. Track Driver Behavior
The first step to optimizing anything is getting a better understanding of the situation. Higher transparency reveals where various processes can improve, and driver behavior is one of the most important factors to understand. Fleet managers can tackle this by implementing telematics solutions to gather data on driving habits affecting performance.
Telematics systems today include sensors to track speed, driving styles, acceleration and braking, excessive idling and more. With this information, fleet managers can see if any drivers have habits that waste fuel, take too much time or otherwise impact efficiency or safety. They can then address the issue head-on, fixing unsafe or wasteful practices.
2. Use AI Route Planning
Another area where fleet performance often falls short is in route efficiency. Planning the best way to go between multiple stops is often less straightforward than it seems, as it involves so many disparate factors. Artificial intelligence (AI) is often better than humans at navigating these complex considerations, so it’s an excellent option for route planning.
AI route optimization programs can analyze far more factors in far less time, finding the most efficient paths for each shipment. If fleets also install real-time data collection tools, these algorithms could also adapt to incoming changes, minimizing delays from things like traffic or road closures.
While it sounds futuristic, tools like this are already in production and delivering benefits. One logistics company increased profits by 16% after installing an AI route optimization system.
3. Optimize Vehicle Maintenance With IoT Technology
Just as fleet managers can track driver behavior with wireless sensors, they can do the same with maintenance data. Internet of things (IoT) sensors can monitor various maintenance concerns, like engine performance, vibrations and tire pressure. They can then alert fleet managers when a truck will need repair soon, informing more effective maintenance schedules.
These real-time alerts are helpful because issues like alternator failures may not be apparent at first. IoT technology improves transparency around these issues, helping fleets address them before they become larger, costlier problems. Optimizing maintenance schedules according to these alerts also prevents unnecessary repairs, so it lowers costs on both sides of the equation.
4. Implement Fleet Management Software
As fleets implement all these various data tracking solutions, they may encounter some new problems. Using too many disparate software solutions can over-complicate the management side of things, hindering productivity. Fleets can reduce this complexity while enjoying the benefits of these programs by using fleet management software.
Fleet management solutions combine these separate operations into a consolidated platform. Managers can then view all of their different data-tracking processes from a single window, saving time they would otherwise spend switching between programs. Since many of these factors impact each other, controlling them all from one place can also help make more informed decisions.
5. Upgrade Truck Suspension
While many strategies to increase fleet performance involve disruptive, widespread changes, some are more straightforward. Seemingly small changes like upgrading truck suspension systems can have a considerable impact on overall performance. While it may not seem pressing at first, suspension can affect maintenance, fuel consumption and more, so it deserves attention.
One new option for upgrading vehicle suspension is axle-less suspension kits. These systems help evenly distribute vehicle weight, reducing how much trucks lean on turns, which reduces tire and brake wear. This distribution can also increase a truck’s maximum load, helping transport more goods at once without jeopardizing stability.
Axle-less suspension kits also eliminate road shock and minimize bumps, stabilizing trucks in rough conditions. This stability will, in turn, help reduce fuel consumption from over-correction.
6. Communicate Clearly and Often
Another easy-to-overlook strategy for increasing fleet performance is to improve communication. Fleet operations rely on cooperation between multiple separate departments and employees, from drivers to maintenance workers to the control hub. If these teams aren’t on the same page at all times, it can cause delays and disruptions.
Using instant messaging software instead of emails can help speed up communication between departments. Similarly, project management tools can inform all involved parties of any updates, ensuring everyone stays on top of developing situations. Regular meetings and calls can also help clear confusion, streamlining operations.
7. Automate Data Entry
When most people think of improving fleet performance, they likely think of vehicle-related factors. While these are some of the most important areas to address, they’re not the only ones. Back-office operations are also common areas for inefficiencies, particularly in data entry tasks.
Fleet management involves a lot of administrative work that may not seem slow but takes far more time than it needs. On average, transport and logistics workers spend 3.08 hours a day on manual, repetitive tasks. This same type of work is also the most disliked among workers, so employees aren’t likely achieving full productivity in these areas.
Automation is the solution here. Robotic process automation (RPA) can automate these repetitive tasks, letting office workers focus on more pressing matters. Since RPA is often less error-prone than humans in these areas, it’ll also decrease mistakes as it boosts efficiency.
8. Analyze Ongoing Performance
Finally, no matter what other actions a fleet takes, it should establish a monitoring and review policy. Every company has different needs, so various fixes will work differently across businesses. Continually analyzing performance can reveal which strategies work and which don’t, guiding future improvements.
Even if all the steps a business takes yield positive results, it should still review its performance periodically. As new solutions and opportunities emerge, there may be new ways the fleet can improve further. Adopting a spirit of ongoing improvement will help fleets stay on top as the industry evolves.
Maximize Your Fleet Performance Today
Fleet performance is crucial to many businesses’ success, whether they realize it or not. Changes here can lift up an entire company, just as inefficiencies here will hinder it.
These eight strategies are by no means the only ways fleets can improve their performance but are among the most effective and innovative. By adopting these improvements, any fleet can maximize its efficiency, safety, profits and customer satisfaction.