3 Ways To Right-Size Your Fleet
dave esbin By:David Esbin

October 12th , 2016

3 Ways To Right-Size Your Fleet

As all fleet managers know, the cost of a fleet is directly proportional to its size. Today's fleet managers are under increasing pressure to reduce costs, and trimming vehicle totals is the most impactful way.

However, minimizing fleet size and maintaining capacity for bursts in demand or unexpected repairs can be at odds with each other.

Luckily, there's a solution. More precise utilization data, combined with more productivity per vehicle and shorter repair windows, can enable you to reduce your fleet size without compromising business productivity.

By using telematics paired with fleet management software, you can improve your operation’s efficiency and lower costs to operate a more profitable business. Deploying telematics can increase vehicle utilization by as much as 20%, and reduce fuel expenses by up to 25%, according to Frost & Sullivan. We suggest three areas to assess to operate a more efficient fleet with less vehicles:

Identify Underutilized Vehicles

It makes sense to keep backup vehicles in your fleet in case a vehicle breaks down on a critical route and you need to quickly backfill the route. However, keeping too many spare vehicles can be very expensive in the long run.

You can identify excessive spare vehicles by assessing monthly miles, engine hours, and active days in the Vehicle Utilization Report. Identify extra vehicles that are underutilized or unused and keep only spare vehicles to backfill critical routes. These backup vehicles should be in ratio to in-use critical vehicles. vehicle utilization report

Reduce Maintenance and Repair Time

How many days a year does each vehicle spend in the garage? If you could cut that in half without added cost, could you offload a few vehicles?

By reducing maintenance and repair time you can keep more vehicles on the road and require fewer backup vehicles. Usage-based maintenance is one way to eliminate unnecessary servicing. In Samsara you can set up scheduled maintenance reminders so you know exactly when a vehicle needs to be serviced.

The Upcoming Maintenance page shows all the required preventative maintenance so your maintenance technicians know exactly what to replace and when. We recommend setting Upcoming Maintenance schedules based on the service schedule from each vehicle manufacturer. You can set each schedule to trigger based on mileage or time intervals.   

Preventative Maintenance Planning

When your maintenance technicians change or fix parts, they log the maintenance record directly in the Maintenance Log, where you can see both granular and a high-level information on the state of each vehicle. This helps inform better decisions when purchasing vehicles, since you know which vehicles last longer and which ones need replacement sooner.

Keeping tabs on engine faults is extremely helpful in preventing breakdowns and keeping more vehicles on the road. Drivers don't always pay attention to engine fault lights, but you need to know  when engine faults happen as soon as possible. Samsara instantly notifies you when issues occur: just set up custom engine fault alerts and pick who you want to be notified- such as your service manager.

When the check-engine light goes on, Samsara decodes the fault, so you and your service manager know what parts you need before pulling the vehicle out of service. This greatly reduces the wait time for parts, speeding up service and keeping more vehicles on the roads.

Route Efficiently for More Stops with Fewer Vehicles

Smarter routing and dispatching is a massive opportunity to improve your fleet's efficiency. With more efficient routing you can complete more stops with fewer vehicles, meaning you can reduce the size of your fleet.

Samsara has real-time dispatching that dispatchers use to look up customers and instantly find the nearest vehicle. It uses real-time traffic data from Google to find the nearest driver by time, not just distance.

The dispatch function syncs with the Samsara Driver app, where drivers instantly receive dispatch alerts with directions to their next stop. This means no more radio or phone calls to find drivers or manual mapping- Samsara Dispatch automates it all and saves you and your drivers time.

samsara real-time routing

Samsara is also built to analyze and plan routes to ensure vehicles are running the most efficient routes. First, enter all your common routes in Group Settings, then you can begin analyzing route performance.

This is easy to do with the Samsara dashboard - simply click the Route Analytics Report, and you'll see all your routes, ranked by run count. Focus on those routes that are only run a few times a month and you may find that it's worth dropping or modifying those routes.

route analytics report

Finally, look at the ROI of each site along each route. In the Time on Site Report, view the site-specific data and rank by visits. Compare visit frequency and time on site with revenue.  Dropping the lowest ROI stops or reconfiguring routes to reduce the cost per visit could free up resources that can take on new, higher ROI stops.

time on site report

At its core, right-sizing is a mentality, not an occasional process. It means being observant and using data to find efficiencies in your everyday operations. Finding underutilized vehicles, reducing maintenance time, and running more efficient routes are methods to drive more productivity in your fleet.

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