Important Fleet Performance Metrics You Should Be Tracking
Efficiency is the name of the game with fleet management. You want to get the absolute most efficiency and productivity from your fleet, while reducing every possible source of friction. And a big part of achieving this is through intelligent decision-making based on quantifiable data. While there are a wide variety of helpful fleet metrics you can tap into, here are the most important:
Fuel Consumption Rates and Cost
Fuel accounts for 28% of average fleet spending, it’s the second biggest overall expense after depreciation at 36%. Therefore, it’s an area you want to place your full attention on, focusing on two specific sub-metrics. The fuel consumption rate measures the amount of fuel used when a vehicle travels a given distance. And there’s cost, which is how much you spend on fuel per vehicle.
Perhaps the easiest way to measure fuel consumption rate is to look at the fuel economy.
The formula is quite simple:
Distance traveled / gallons refueled = fuel economy
This lets you know the MPG, which will provide a baseline reading of the fuel consumption for each vehicle in your fleet. In turn, you can tell how efficient it is based on the average MPG for a particular model for a reliable benchmark.
As for cost, the simplest way to measure that is to look at how many cents per mile a vehicle gets, as it’s a straightforward measurement of fleet vehicle efficiency. If the cents per mile isn’t on par with what a vehicle should be getting, you’ll need to explore ways to lower it.
Vehicle Idling Levels
Excessive idling has a host of negative consequences. First, it costs money. “For each hour spent idling, a typical light-duty truck burns approximately one gallon of diesel fuel, and a typical car wastes ⅕ gallon of gasoline,” explains the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ). “Idling for 10 seconds uses more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it.”
Second, it adds wear and tear because it contributes to the build-up of residues in the engine components and creates corrosion in the exhaust system. And third, it’s a significant source of vehicle emissions, which is the leading cause of air pollution in many areas. With every gallon of gas burned to produce more than 20 pounds of greenhouse gases, excessive idling can be incredibly harmful to the environment.
This makes vehicle idling levels another of the core fleet metrics to track — also available with VQ Efficiency. By condensing information onto a single, easy to read dashboard, you can monitor the idle performance of each driver in your fleet and see how many minutes they spend idling.
In turn, you can make adjustments and provide driver education when needed to burn less fuel, create less wear and tear, and produce less harmful gasses.
The third significant source of spending for fleets is vehicle maintenance at 14%, making this another vital metric to track. More specifically, you’ll want review the frequency and cost of repairs for individual vehicles, as well as your fleet as a whole. Although vehicle maintenance is an inevitable part of operations and all vehicles will need repairs from time to time, it’s problematic when your vehicles are constantly in and out of the mechanic shop.
Not only does this increase your expenditures for repairs themselves, but it can also take a toll on productivity because of the inherent downtime that comes along with it. That’s why you need to keep a close eye on vehicle maintenance and strive to keep significant repairs at a minimum. One of the best remedies is to routinely service all your fleet vehicles to improve their performance and identify minor issues before they turn into something much bigger.
Another fleet metric often overlooked is the average speed driven. There’s a clear correlation between fast driving and increased fuel consumption. Whenever drivers reach speeds in excess of 50 MPH, they’ll see a considerable drop in their fuel efficiency. Research from the US Department of Energy states that for every 5 MPH a vehicle drives over 50 MPH, it adds up to around $0.22 extra per gallon of gas.
So just think of how much more you’ll spend across a large fleet if your drivers are continually hitting speeds of 55+. If left unchecked, it can take a considerable chunk out of your profitability. To combat this problem, you’ll want to do two main things:
- Create a maximum speed limit policy to restrict the maximum speed
- Monitor how fast your drivers go
An effective way to do that is with a speed governor, a piece of technology that provides you with data on how fast your drivers are going and their average speed. Besides the valuable data it generates, it also has a built in feature that automatically manages how fast they’re able to drive. As a result, they cannot drive at excessive speeds, which improves fuel efficiency and increases safety for everyone else on the road.
Finally, there’s vehicle turnover. There are a plethora of variables that determine precisely how long a fleet vehicle ultimately lasts. Everything from the make and model and how many miles it’s driven per week to road conditions and region affect lifespan. But on average, significant components like the engine and transmission start to fail between 150,000 to 200,000 miles. And it’s around that time that most fleet managers will want to replace vehicles.
If you’ve chosen the route of buying your vehicles outright and they’re not consistently reaching at least 150,000 miles before a major component goes out, you may want to consider leasing them instead. In most cases, a lease has a set lifecycle of 3-5 years, which means you won’t have to deal with the headache of continually buying new ones.
Staying on Top of Key Fleet performance Metrics
It takes a lot to keep a fleet running smoothly and efficiently. And while there are a lot of different factors to keep tabs on, these fleet metrics should be at the top of your list. It’s just a matter of finding and leveraging the right tools to generate accurate data and then optimizing your strategy and decision making accordingly. By doing so you should reduce fuel consumption, lower emissions, reduce the frequency of major repairs, extend the average lifetime of your vehicles, and more.