Fleet Productivity: How to Get More Out of Your Vehicles and Their Drivers
Maximizing vehicle and driver productivity is always a top priority for fleet managers. This is primarily done by following core best practices and implementing cutting-edge fleet management solutions. And the data shows these solutions can have an immense impact, where many companies see tangible results quite quickly.
Early half of US fleet managers (45%) in 2021 saw a positive ROI in 11 months or less — an 18% increase from 2020. Here are some specific best practices to follow and fleet management solutions to maximize fleet productivity with your drivers and their vehicles.
Use Optimal Routing
A big part of fleet productivity is having drivers follow the most efficient, cost-effective route from point A to point B. But as you might imagine, there’s a lot more to it than simply choosing the shortest distance on a GPS.
Drivers also need to take into account:
- All of the deliveries they’ll make throughout the day and the location of each
- Vehicle capacity
- Delivery deadlines
- Current traffic
- Weather conditions
- And more
That’s where fleet route optimization comes in. Rather than making decisions based on what a driver thinks is the best option or what’s shortest on the map, optimization allows you to tap into near-real-time data using an algorithmic approach to pinpoint the optimal route. This eliminates guesswork and helps each driver get where they need to go quickly and efficiently while working around friction points like traffic jams. When executed scale across a large fleet, the spike in productivity can be quite substantial.
Perform Regular Vehicle Maintenance for Fleet Productivity
While most fleet managers ensure a base level of vehicle maintenance, many take a reactive approach rather than a proactive one. But this can be costly in the long run. For example, repairing vehicles after last-minute breakdowns typically costs three to four times more than planned maintenance repairs. Besides that, being proactive ensures a more significant percentage of your fleet is up and running, reducing downtime while also increasing fuel efficiency and improving the overall performance of your vehicles.
Ideally, you’ll have a fleet maintenance program in place with strict policies for when vehicles should be serviced. The exact schedule may vary from vehicle to vehicle and is determined by how old it is, how frequently it’s used, mileage, operating conditions, and general wear and tear. Instructing your drivers to bring their vehicles in for servicing at specified times should allow you to catch any minor issues before they escalate into something more significant. An example is to create a policy for vehicle maintenance after a certain number of miles or hours in operation.
To ensure drivers stick to the schedule, you can use fleet management software to send notifications to your drivers and fleet managers. This, in turn, reduces the need for tedious, manual checking to ensure regular vehicle maintenance is performed without fail.Repairing vehicles after last-minute breakdowns typically costs three to four times more than planned maintenance repairs. Click To Tweet
Calibrate Vehicles for Better Performance
Engine calibration is another highly effective way to get the most out of your fleet vehicles. It’s surprisingly simple, with many engine calibration specialists to complete the process in just 10-15 minutes. Yet it can significantly improve fleet productivity, helping your drivers get better fuel efficiency and extend the life of your vehicles.
At its core, engine calibration is essentially the same thing as the better-known engine-tuning. It works by modifying the engine parameters of each fleet vehicle, aligning with the vehicle’s specific needs. Then, by using specialized software, a programmer installs custom calibrations into a vehicle’s OBD-II port and optimizes the settings to your liking. Engine calibration can also increase the power of your vehicles by unlocking maximum horsepower. That way, you’re able to fully customize your fleet and get the absolute most out of it.
Use Idle Reduction Technology
Not only does excessive idling increase fuel consumption and create pollution, but it also contributes to engine wear and tears. As a result, this can increase the frequency ofr servicing and shorten its overall lifespan. That’s why it’s essential to take measures to reduce the idle rate of each vehicle within your fleet — something accomplished through idle reduction technology.
Simply put, this keeps idling in check to reduce idle rate without affecting ventilation or heating performance. By doing so, your vehicles will waste less fuel and create less pollution while at the same time reducing wear and tear.
Fully Invest in Driver Training
Individuals operating modern fleet vehicles do much more than “just drive.” They often act as skilled technicians responsible for monitoring, maintaining, and caring for a complicated piece of technology. Drivers may, for instance, need to perform routine inspections to ensure proper maintenance, as we discussed earlier. They need to clearly understand built-in devices like GPS, diagnostics, and AI features. They must also have a firm grasp of the subtle nuances that allow them to operate their vehicles more efficiently and proper driver safety protocol.
That’s why it’s so important to focus heavily on driver training. Rather than having them learn only the bare minimum initially and putting them out on the road, providing a systematized training framework should provide knowledge on the finer details, which can hugely impact on their long-term productivity. One specific area to cover is eco-driving, which studies have found reduces annual fuel consumption by up to 30%.
Use Fleet Management Safety Tools
Driving too fast or talking or texting while driving are obvious issues from a safety standpoint. Unfortunately, they put the lives of your drivers and the general public at risk. Beyond that, they can also be detrimental to productivity. After all, if a driver is involved in a severe accident, their vehicle has to be taken off the road to have repairs made, resulting in costly downtime. Not to mention, the wear and tear created from accidents can reduce the vehicle’s lifespan. And if a driver is distracted by talking or texting on their phone while driving, this will inevitably lower their productivity because they don’t have their full attention on the road.
While having basic safe driving policies in place is a good starting point, it isn’t always enough to achieve safety. Fleet management safety tools, however, can help you get to as close to perfect as possible. DeriveVQ’s Speed Governor, for example, restricts maximum speed to the limit set in your fleet’s policy. That way, drivers can’t surpass a given speed and endanger themselves and other drivers.
Another helpful feature is Distracted Driving Prevention Cell Blocking, which syncs with a driver’s phone to lock it once the vehicle is in motion. This is a simple yet highly effective way to reduce driver distractions and keep their attention on the road.
Besides that, you can utilize driver management solutions that send you near-real-time alerts any time a driver engages in risky driving behavior, enabling you to correct the issue and provide educational opportunities swiftly.
Getting the Most Out of Your Vehicles and Their Drivers
Several factors contribute to fleet productivity, including routing, vehicle maintenance, engine efficiency, driver education, and driver safety. Addressing these key factors head-on by following best practices and leveraging cutting-edge fleet management solutions should put you in a position to maximize productivity, leading to better-performing vehicles and drivers.
Have you experimented with any of these fleet management technologies? If so, let us know what your experience has been like in the comments below.