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Advances in Trucking Fleet Management Make Life Easier

Semi tractor trailer truck fleet

Advances in Trucking Fleet Management Make Life Easier

A number of different trends in trucking fleet management are coming together to make hauls more efficient and enjoyable. Software can now provide load- and truck-specific routes that cut down on drive times. That leaves more time for you and your family. What's also nice is that current trends like “bring your own device” (BYOD) are getting incorporated into trucking fleet management to make your routes easier to plan and navigate. The upshot is greater efficiency and more free time to do what you love.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Any modern device that runs on Android, Google's operating system, or iOS, Apple's operating system, will do as a BYOD device. As long as you bring along your smartphone, iPad, or Apple Watch, you should have access to thousands of trucking apps. By bringing your own device on the job you will have access to a number of helpful apps, including those that cover: navigation, load compliance, weigh stations, and possible vehicle inspections. For companies, BYOD policies can lead to reduced hardware costs, training expenses, and annoying software licensing fees.

Better Telematics

Telematics is the branch of information science that covers the sending and receiving of information, potentially across long distances. Sensors are the glue that makes better telematics possible in the trucking industry. Better sensors can tell fleet maintenance managers when a truck needs repair or some kind of adjustment to bring its performance up to a certain standard. As a trucker, you will receive a much richer picture of the current performance of your rig, and fleet maintenance managers will be clued into upcoming repairs. Updates on potential problems can inform overall fleet management (e.g., by indicating a truck needs to be taken out of commission).

Load- and Truck-specific Routes

Getting to the next waypoint on time can be stressful enough without worrying about the literal stress of 75,000 pounds of truck and material not being able to make the journey. The end goal shared by all truckers is getting to the next waypoint efficiently, safely, and ahead of schedule. Truck navigation software is already used by hundreds of thousands of truckers around the country, and the reach of this innovative navigation software is becoming global in scope. Trucking navigation software can enable you to:

  • Receive customized messages based on trucking location
  • Locate trade routes (not a feature of every navigation system!)
  • Locate POI, e.g., safe and reliable overnight parking
  • Locate constantly updated road closures and reroutes
  • Ensure right-side approach for easier, safer pull-ins

Today's navigation software can factor in the size of your route and the foregoing kinds of data so that your ride is smoother, safer, and more enjoyable.

Solutions Working Together to Improve Fleet Management

Many of the solutions discussed above work synergistically to improve fleet management. For instance, bringing your own device to work will enable better telematics and access to helpful suggestions in terms of load- and truck-specific routes for your next haul. Why wouldn't you want to use these technologies?

Examining Fuel Management & Your Fleet Bottom Line

Managing fuel costs isn’t just watching pump prices. It’s as much steering drivers to preferred fuel suppliers and considering off route distances and fuel grades as it is using the latest tech and finding eco-friendly solutions.

Fleet owners and drivers have to keep an eye on costs and fuel consumption. Not doing so threatens the bottom line. Here are factors that can benefit fleet fuel management.

Fuel Types & Their Differences

Finding the best fuel type remains a priority.

Propane Autogas

Less than 3% of propane autogas is manufactured internationally. This solution's local production promises better price per gallon stability. Its production is also an eco-friendly solution.

Renewable Diesel

Though renewable diesel has a heftier per gallon price, it improves vehicle performance. There are fewer maintenance and repair costs. This is because the oil’s production leaves almost no impurities that harm an engine.

Keeping Sound Recording of Fuel Costs

If fueling on-site, you have to stay on point with consumption. It’s highly recommended fleets utilize inventory control systems. You want to compare fueling records with retail fuel purchase to manage overlaps.

Depending on consumption, this can be a big job. The latest technology alleviates the process. Management can see real-time data and receive alerts for irregularities.

Auto or Manual Transmission

Advancements in technology flips the idea manual trannys are better at fuel economy. Automatic solutions are extremely sophisticated. With their algorithms, you get an optimized mesh of performance and fuel economy.

With auto options, there is a learning curve for getting peak performance for a fleet. Settings may need customizing for specific engines. It's worth the effort as adjustments can save on mpg and maximize torque.

Gamification Apps

A gamification app tracks productivity. It prompts agenda plans and goals. You can use one to track fuel costs vs. budgeting. It highlights savings and makes reaching financial goals more attainable.

With a gamification app, you’ll have daily fuel management scorecards for drivers. They’ll see how hard braking and speeding impacts fuel economy. Drivers will know how to self-correct driving behaviors.

Tracking Fleet Cards

Tracking purchases via company cards gets complicated. Fleets may contain different types of vehicles and use various cards. Work with a company that accommodates single card use but also manages light, medium and heavy trucks. This lets you track fuel use without managing multiple data sources.

Not all fleets need this design. Each company requires specific needs and not necessarily blanket coverage. The manager of your fuel supply needs a firm understanding of your needs, the market and how to address issues concerning your business.

CO2 Emission Tracking

Reducing your footprint helps the bottom line. Managing guidelines for controlling greenhouse gas emissions may earn tax benefits. Adjustments can lead to better fuel efficiency. And comparing vehicle performance shows which trucks can perform better.

Your due diligence is critical to fleet fuel management. Driver behavior, upgrading tech and equipment and more are great opportunities to design streamlined fuel consumption. These all play a role in fuel use, costs and profit margins.

Sources:
https://www.worktruckonline.com/322139/8-fuel-management-trends-to-follow
https://www.worktruckonline.com/157166/effectively-managing-fuel-in-truck-fleets
https://clevertap.com
https://www.gofleet.com

 

Annual DOT Inspection Tips For Fleet Managers

Semi Truck Inspection And Repair

Passing the annual DOT (Department Of Transportation) inspection is essential to the smooth operation of your trucking business. Failure to pass the inspection can lead to a loss in profits for your business due to a dented reputation, increased insurance premiums, or even blacklisting.

Fortunately, though, you can increase the likelihood of passing the DOT inspection by simply preparing accordingly.

Read on below to find out more about how you can pass your upcoming annual DOT inspection.

Who And What Is Subject To A DOT Inspection?

According to FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) regulations, different types of vehicle fleets are subject to the annual DOT inspection. In fact, you don’t have to be in the transportation business for your fleet to be subjected to an inspection. Regardless of whether you own or manage a small or large fleet, you should always be ready for a DOT inspection (scheduled or unscheduled).

In most cases, the annual DOT inspection is done on CMVs (Commercial Motor Vehicles) that weigh more than 10,000 pounds. With that in mind, any vehicle fleet, including public utility vehicles, delivery vehicles, rental car fleets and trucking fleets (tractor and trailer), satisfying this condition can be subjected to a DOT inspection.

What Is Included In An Annual DOT Inspection?

A DOT inspection is made up of six different categories. The person conducting the inspection will go through all of these categories rating each one as unsatisfactory, conditional or unsatisfactory.

Here’s a brief breakdown of the categories:

1. General Category: Here, the inspector will check the company’s general documents including accident register, vehicle markings, liability cover, training records for drivers and MCS 90 or MCS 82 form that is countersigned by the insurer.

2. Driver Category: Involves a review of the driver’s qualifications and other pertinent information in their employee file.

3. Operational Category: This stage focuses on the review of driver logs, which may be in soft or hard copy format, to ensure that the recommended CMV limitations are not exceeded.

4. Vehicle Category: In this stage, the inspector looks to see whether you, the carrier, have a well-maintained fleet of vehicles. This involves the inspection of all records that document the inspection and maintenance or repair of each of the vehicles in the fleet.

5. Hazardous Materials Category: This stage involves checking whether carriers that are involved in the transportation of hazardous materials strictly adhere to the necessary federal guidelines. These guidelines are normally updated on a regular basis.

6. Accident Category: Here, the inspector goes through the company’s accident record. The records cover any incident that results in vehicle damage, bodily injury or death.

Vehicle Documentation Requirements

You will need to put together a list of documents in preparation for your upcoming DOT inspection. These include:

• A collection of employee files on all drivers and their training records

• Detailed vehicle registration information

• List of drivers your company has used over the past calendar year, their date of birth, state and license number of their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) as well as the date they were hired, and fired where applicable.

• Payroll records for all drivers

• Records on all accidents over the last year

• List of the company’s equipment and their GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), license number, company number, state, make and year

• The gross revenue of the company for the past year

• DVIRs (Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports) covering the last three months

• Lease contracts, if any, and associated maintenance records for the vehicles

• Information on insurance claims for the past year

• Total mileage covered by the fleet for the last 12 months

• The past year’s roadside inspection reports

• Driver logs, expense records, and trip reports for the last 6 months

• The company’s Controlled Substance and Alcohol Policy as well as a testing record for employees

While it might be challenging to collect all this paperwork, using fleet tracking software might make things much easier, and help you stay as organized as possible.

Maintenance And Repair History

The main purpose of a DOT inspection is to ensure that every part of your Commercial Motor Vehicle is safe, in the best condition, and working properly. As such, it is important that you put in place a regular schedule to ensure that the following parts of your vehicles are properly maintained:

• Wheels, hubs, rims, and tires

• Braking systems

• Emergency doors

• Fuel and exhaust systems

• Seat belts

• Electrical cables

• Steering and suspension systems

• Coupling systems

• Windshield wipers

• Lighting systems and lights

Summary

From the above, it is clear to see that passing an annual DOT inspection can be quite challenging for Commercial Motor Vehicle fleet owners and managers, regardless of whether they are new to the industry or not. However, you can easily pass the DOT inspection with better organization and proper preparation. To that end, having the right fleet management software can prove to be invaluable.

3 Trucking Maintenance Tips

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  1. Learn DOT Requirements: The Department of Transportation (DOT) provides truckers with truck maintenance guidelines for safe trucking. If you do not keep up with these guidelines, you risk hefty fines, so familiarize yourself with these regulations.
  2. Regular Tune Up: Small things may go wrong with your truck from time to time. Getting these problems fixed as they happen, rather than waiting things out, will prevent even bigger problems from occurring down the line.
  3. Clean: Simply cleaning your truck regularly prevents dust, grime, and rust build up, helping your truck function at its best.

 

Do you need help maintaining a fleet of trucks? Tatems offers truck and trailer equipment maintenance software to help you track when your trucks need tune-ups.

Maintaining your Fleet:

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If you manage a fleet of trucks and trailer equipment it can be difficult to maintain and keep a log of all the maintenance needed.

It is a huge hassle to track all the trucks systems and maintenance needs by hand. Using spreadsheets can seem like the easy answer to this issue, unfortunately spreadsheets quickly get very overwhelming. Keeping separate spreadsheets for the Pm’s and repairs, DOT or BIT type inspections to provide to the government is a huge headache.

Your best option is to use Tatem, discover how simple fleet maintenance software can be

https://tatems.com/

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Fleet Management

In a tough economy, both government and private fleet operations face a lot of pressure to cut their costs. One of the most popular solutions is to outsource any non-core business functions, including fleet maintenance. Many companies find outsourcing to be an attractive option because it brings about direct cost reductions as well as long-term cost savings. However, this decision should not be made lightly. Any time you turn a portion of a company over to a third party, there is risk and reason for concern.As you consider this solution for your particular fleet operation, weigh both the pros and cons of outsourcing fleet management.

Pro: The valuable expertise is an asset to the company.

When companies are under pressure to reduce their budgets, having an outsourcing partner who brings insight, experience, processes, and skills into the business can accelerate growth plans. It is important to keep in mind that this outsourcing relationship should be a partnership. A third party must work with a client to learn why they want to grow and what goals they have for their business in order to create a successful plan of action.

Pro: Outsourcing does not have to be limited to procurement handling

If you don't have a lot of experience with outsourcing or do not have any contacts in the fleet industry that use outsourcing, you may not have a clear understanding of the sorts of tasks that you can delegate to a third party. Many companies have their outsourcing partners handle any number of different jobs including daily rental vehicles, end-of-term vehicle checks, reallocation and storage of vehicles, and fines management.

Pro: Outsourcing leads to measurable, increased efficiencies and improved company focus

When you outsource fleet management and maintenance, you will see increased efficiency for any number of different aspects of the company. Rate of efficiency is dependent upon current maintenance management systems. However, it doesn't take most companies a long time to realize that when they're spending less time on their fleets, they have more energy to focus on core business tasks. Fleet operations see multiple benefits, including heightened fleet availability and reliability, higher cash flow, and increased productivity.

Pro: Outsourcing leads to heightened human resource productivity

  • Redirected resources. Companies get the opportunity to use financial and personnel resources for core business tasks as opposed to non-core activities.
  • Decreased head count. One of the most effective and quickest techniques for managing human resource requirements is outsourcing maintenance operations. Third parties can provide training, benefits and advancement opportunities for existing employees within a fleet operation.
  • More high quality services. When companies do not have the necessary resources in-house, they often turn to outsourcing, which opens up a whole new world of services for drivers.

Con: Employees don't have anyone to talk to within the company

Some companies have found that keeping an in-house fleet manager instead of outsourcing the position actually saves the company money. An in-house manager talks directly to the drivers whenever they have questions or concerns. When a well-qualified individual holds this position for many years, he or she builds solid relationships with the drivers as well as the local dealerships, insurers, and account managers. This level of personal contact is very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with outsourcing.

Con: Companies can lose valuable insight when they fully outsource vehicle management or absorb it into another position, such as finance or HR

As businesses weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing fleet management, budget is often their first priority. While budget may drive the decision-making process, you cannot discount the notion of insight and expertise. For example, a fleet specialist has cross-business expertise and extensive experience that allows a business to increase its efficiency and to save a significant amount of money every year. Fleet specialists also have a strong understanding of a company as a whole and are frequently some of the first individuals to know about a business's new developments.

Con: Outsourcing can come with a loss of accountability.

The bottom line is that directors are always responsible for their drivers. Even when you use outsourcing for some of your fleet management tasks, you must maintain in-house procedures for monitoring performance, analyzing risk, and working with providers to ensure a safe, compliant operation. You cannot simply hand over all of the responsibility and hope for the best. Most companies find that best practice is to keep an in-house staff member for policy and oversight and to outsource interactive tasks including accident reporting, purchase handling, and taxes.

Implementing and maintaining a fleet management system that is just right for your particular fleet operation is a balancing act. Successful outsourcing is dependent on multiple factors, including organizational culture, in-house expertise, and cost imperatives. HR must maintain some level of responsibility no matter what solution a company chooses.

About the author:

Robert J. Hall is president of Track Your Truck, a leader in GPS vehicle tracking systems and software for small and midsized companies.

Today’s Top Fleet Management Issues

Every year the trucking industry deals with a combination of familiar issues, old issues with a new twist, and brand new problems. From the truck cab to the truck company boardroom to the government committee room, there are any number of different places where issues can occur. It is important to stay on top of today's top fleet management issues as well as new truck regulations that are in the works. The following list includes just a few of the top issues that the industry is facing right now.

Fuel prices

At the end of 2012, driver wages and benefits were the highest motor carrier cost for trucking companies, and fuel and oil were the second highest cost. With high fuel prices, it is not surprising that this is one of today's top fleet management issues. It is unlikely that the per-gallon fuel price is going to change significantly before the end of 2013, but that doesn't change the fact that fuel prices are higher than normal. Even though the prices may become less volatile, they will most likely remain high.

California-based trucking companies may run into problems with the new low-carbon fuel regulations that went into effect on January 1, 2013. The state may see an increase of $1 per gallon for gasoline and $2 per gallon for diesel. The current fuel prices and the new regulations may push companies to consider vehicles that use natural gas fuel.

Driver shortage

As of late 2012, 90 percent of for-hire U.S. truckload carriers are not able to recruit a sufficient number of drivers who can meet DOT requirements. With approximately 750,000 trucks in use, the shortage numbers run in the range of 20,000 to 25,000 for-hire drivers. If you think that these numbers are bad, consider that with the current driver trends, the shortage could skyrocket as high as 239,000 by 2022.

Government regulations are not going to help this problem. There will be hours-of-service regulation changes within the next year that will most likely bring motor carrier productivity down as much as three percent. As such, carriers will have to increase the number of drivers and trucks in their forces to compensate for it.

A number of prominent truck carriers stress that a large part of the driver shortage issue stems from high turnover rates. There are very few wage increases available right now, and the increases that are available are minimal. Given the GDP growth of the past few years, that is not likely to change any time soon. Drivers become frustrated with the low rates and turn elsewhere for higher pay.

Regulatory compliance

As previously mentioned, there are new regulations taking effect every year, and this is also not likely to change in the near future. More regulations mean more complexity and potentially higher costs. Fleets must stay on top of what they need to do to stay compliant, which is a never-ending effort.

For example, the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration launched a Compliance Safety Accountability (CSA) program. This program took the place of the SafeStat system. While the CSA is considered to be an improvement, there are a number of details that are a major concern for fleet managers. The Department of Transportation is under scrutiny to open its decision making process up to the public.

In response, there are plans to put together a committee of industry executives that will do a comprehensive review of the CSA program. The review will include the priorities, focus, and objectives of the program as well as specific details such as risk prediction and how effectively the data mirrors safety performance. Additionally, the review committee will consider regional disparities in data reports, how shippers and brokers use the data, and how insurers use the system.4

Lack of sleep

One of the longstanding battles between federal regulators and truck drivers is the issue of sleep. The recent regulation changes decrease the workweek hours to 70 (down from 82), require periodic rest breaks throughout the day, and limit the number of nights that truckers can be on the road. This is the most substantial rule overhaul in relation to truck driver hours that we've seen in the past decade.

The government administration believes that these new regulations will decrease the number of crashes that occur due to sleep-deprived drivers. Fleet managers believe that the changes will cost them money by necessitating higher numbers of trucks to move the same number of loads, which will have little benefit for the trucking companies.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to enforce these regulations by conducting periodic driver work log check-ins and charge fines for every offense. The fines may run as high as $2,750 for individual drivers and $11,000 for trucking companies.

About the author:

Robert J. Hall is president of Track Your Truck, a leader in GPS vehicle tracking systems and software for small and midsized companies.