How Data Transparency can Increase the Lifetime Value of Your Vehicles

September 08, 2020

This post is a part of our series, Samsara: Your Partner for the Road Ahead, that provides insights and examples from our customers on how Samsara can help you transform your fleet operations. To learn more, check out our in-depth online guide or subscribe to the series here.  

The current economic climate has presented unique challenges to industries across the globe. This is no different for businesses with fleets, making it more important than ever to ensure your vehicles stay healthy and productive. A vehicle in the shop versus on the road can make the difference between a business that’s succeeding or just getting by. 

But keeping vehicles well-maintained can be a complex process. Not only does it require insights into the health of each vehicle, but it also depends on the availability of resources, parts, and people at the right time. That’s why if you manage a fleet, it’s important to collect vehicle and driver data to simplify maintenance, minimize downtime, and improve the utilization of your vehicles.

Read on to learn how your fleet can use real-time telematics data to help keep preventative maintenance schedules on track, identify and correct pending failures before a vehicle goes out of service, and leverage driver feedback to efficiently detect and track discrepancies.

Leverage your fleet’s two main data sources: the vehicle and driver

Vehicles are a big investment. Upfront costs can be steep, but the expectation is that these vehicles will last you well into the future. And while it may be tempting to defer routine maintenance or overlook a minor recurring fault—especially when your vehicles are performing well—lapses in sound maintenance practices can put the lifespan of your fleet at risk. 

But keeping track of when preventative maintenance actions are due and what discrepancies are logged against each vehicle can be a time-consuming and tedious task. Thankfully, the amount of telematics data available to fleet managers can help address these challenges, ensuring your vehicles stay in service and on the road.

Preventing unplanned downtime, which can cost anywhere from $448 to $760 a day, can be accomplished by leveraging vehicle and driver data:

1. Vehicle data:

Vehicle health starts with understanding what’s happening under the hood of each vehicle. That data can be sourced in two ways: directly from the vehicle’s diagnostic port or via an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) cloud integration. Both provide an accurate read on important data points like mileage, engine hours, fault codes, battery health, and more.

2. Driver data:

Drivers play a large part in vehicle performance—both in terms of how they operate the vehicle and what information they share about the vehicle. Some driver behaviors like speed, idling, and torque can have a major impact on vehicle health, making it important to understand and analyze these habits to help reduce costs and minimize vehicle wear and tear. Vehicle inspections, which are also carried out by drivers, are crucial in centralizing information about vehicle performance and outstanding vehicle defects.

Surface data insights to improve maintenance programs, avoid breakdowns, and identify issues

But sourcing this data is only the first step. An advanced telematics system that can surface insights from vehicle and driver data to help make it valuable and actionable to your team can improve your maintenance—and bottom line. Here are three ways you can do that with Samsara:

1. Run a data-driven preventative maintenance program

Adhering to OEM recommended preventative maintenance schedules is critical to keeping your vehicles on the road. But with maintenance needs that depend on varying time intervals, mileage, and engine hour requirements, it can be challenging to keep track of when a vehicle is due in the shop. By connecting your preventative maintenance schedule directly to your vehicle data, you can ensure you are notified when a vehicle is due for its next maintenance interval. This insight, alongside utilization reporting, can alleviate the risk of overusing high-performing vehicles so you can better allocate resources and vehicle use to ensure the long-term health of your fleet.

Before Samsara, construction and heavy equipment dealer MacAllister cycled out their vehicles every 36-months—but not for any particular reason. “We were caught in this trap of using anecdotal information for utilization,” said Bill Dollard, MacAllister’s Corporate Fleet Director. But once MacAllister started using Samsara, they were able to make data-informed decisions about utilization. For instance, they discovered that 68% of the vehicles they were planning to cycle out only had 25% utilization.

2. Leverage diagnostics data to avoid breakdowns 

Understanding what’s going on under the hood of each of your vehicles in real time can help you identify an issue before it leads to a breakdown. And for some things, like a critical check engine light or a high oil temperature warning, a lag of only a few minutes can cause irreversible damage to your vehicles—costing you in downtime or potentially vehicle replacement. Whether you leverage that information through OEM telematics or a telematics device, like the Samsara Vehicle Gateway, you can leverage remote access to critical diagnostics information like historical Diagnostic Trouble Codes (DTC). Stay up-to-date on this information with real-time alerts that help you diagnose pending failures before they result in unscheduled maintenance or worse, a call to roadside assistance. 

3. Use driver feedback to identify issues

By using a telematics system, not only can your drivers more efficiently complete Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs), or walkaround inspections, but communication between drivers and maintenance staff becomes more automated—providing a real-time picture of vehicle health both pre- and post-trip. When a discrepancy is identified in an inspection, you can immediately alert your maintenance team or automatically create a work order in your maintenance system via an API integration. When this information is cross-referenced with a preventative maintenance schedule and diagnostics data, your maintenance team will already be up-to-speed the next time a vehicle comes into the shop.

Manage your fleet maintenance with Samsara 

Samsara’s maintenance solution makes it simple for your fleet to reduce downtime, improve utilization, and make maintenance a priority. With tools that help you analyze data from your vehicles and drivers, you can gain actionable insights that help automate vehicle health. With plug-and-play hardware and intuitive software, Samsara pulls engine data in real time to quickly identify issues, monitor vehicle performance, schedule regular check-ups, and track historic vehicle faults to inform procurement and utilization plans.

We invite you to hear directly from our customers

We're excited to share more success stories from our customers over the next few weeks. Subscribe to our new blog series to get tips from the finalists and winners of the 2020 Samsara Top Fleet Awards, delivered right to your inbox.

Plus, we invite you to register for our upcoming webinar on September 17: Inside Look: Secrets from Top Fleets.This exclusive digital event gives you direct access to four of our most accomplished customers—ArcBest, GP Transco, Sprint Waste, and Athens-Clarke County—recent winners of the 2020 Top Fleet Awards. During the 90-minute webinar, leaders from these fleets will share insider tips for leveraging Samsara to drive next-level efficiency and safety. 

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