Goldilocks your fleet:
How right-sizing can transform your operation
Breaking and entering and other rampant criminality aside, the old fable speaks to an issue critical to fleet managers—whether they have the right-sized fleet to achieve their company’s goals in a cost-effective manner. Fleet managers must play the role of Goldilocks to right-size their fleet and ensure truly efficient, economical operations. The key is to figure out which bear you’re geared up for, and which bear you’re really serving.
What is and isn’t right-sizing?
“Fleet right-sizing is a management practice that can help vehicle fleet managers build and maintain sustainable, fuel-efficient fleets.”
–Alternative Fuels Data Center,
U.S. Department of Energy
Right-sizing your fleet is critical to success. Right-sizing benefits fleets of all sizes by economizing assets while maintaining the right amount to be operationally efficient. Understanding whether you have too many or too few vehicles—or whether you have the right types of vehicles for current and future needs—is fundamental to your operation.
Before we get too far along, let’s begin by making clear that right-sizing is not downsizing. Downsizing is the process of reducing assets, sometimes in response to a revenue downturn, while right-sizing is the process of finding that “just right” operational mix, which may or may not mean cutting assets. In many cases, fleet managers find they need to increase numbers to support their company missions. Less does not automatically mean more efficiency.
Right-sizing efforts can assist all levels of management in creating an efficient fleet. When people refer to the right-sizing of fleets, they’re not just speaking to cost reduction. Rather, it’s about creating the fleet that is most cost-effective for your current and future needs.
Right-sizing can allow for major cost-cutting measures to be put in place; however, from reducing maintenance costs to lowering that of fuel. It can also be a huge driver for bettering fleet
Getting started: The right right-sizing questions
The first step in the process of right-sizing is gaining a better understanding of how vehicles are being used. There are many steps that make up an effective right-sizing initiative, but five questions are fundamental:
- Do you have the right number of vehicles?
- Do you have the right type of vehicles?
- Where are your trucks located at a given time (i.e. parked in your company lot vs. actually on the road)?
- How often are specific vehicles used over their operational lives?
- How healthy is your fleet?
An effective right-sizing initiative is predicated on data, which your telematics platform already provides by identifying route inefficiencies, under-utilized vehicles, and over-or under-powered units that don’t match the needs of the fleet. These insights, along with your vehicle telematics data, allow you to determine if you have the right number and mix of vehicles in your fleet and if they are being properly utilized. This helps you understand if some assets are standing idle while others are being overused and if the right vehicles are in the right locations.
Telematics enables fleet managers to precisely identify vehicle downtime and availability. They can pinpoint the utilization of each vehicle. Underutilized vehicles are revealed through different reports such as landmark history and fleet utilization data, as well as exactly where they have been sitting unused for extended periods of time. This data determines what assets are truly needed.
Fleets should regularly review their fleet overall, talk with drivers about the vehicles they are operating, and review more specific and granular telematics data and other fleet analytics.
Right-sizing in action
It’s one thing to talk about the need and benefits of right-sizing in the abstract, but seeing it work is where the rubber meets the road.
One company achieved 1,500% ROI (and saved over $1 million in fuel costs alone) by utilizing GPS Insight telematics to right-size their fleet. Our technology monitored and policed the idle activity of all their vehicles and found equipment left idling for hours on end, and managers knew they were producing large amounts of greenhouse gas as a result. The excessive idling was also leading to warranty issues.
Equipment utilization was also an issue. They needed to find a way to track equipment utilization to improve efficiency and vehicle availability by right-sizing their fleet. GPS Insight technology addressed these and other issues to help create a fleet that is operating at peak efficiency.
Benefits of right-sizing your fleet
Using telematics to right-size your fleet reaps many rewards:
Reduce cost of fuel and maintenance: A right-sized fleet means you won’t spend more on fuel and maintenance than is necessary.
Reduce emissions: Right-sizing helps fleet managers determine the correct size of their fleet but also whether they should choose to purchase new, more fuel-efficient, or even electric vehicles.
Optimized usage: When fleet managers pinpoint exactly how many vehicles they truly need, they’re able to utilize their fleet more effectively, ensuring a better return on investment per vehicle.
Major budget savings: For most fleets, the biggest cost is purchasing vehicles. When you right-size, you have the data to make the right purchasing decisions and don’t throw money away on an underutilized or unnecessary vehicle.
Vehicle right-sizing should be an ongoing, active process. Monitoring utilization, maintenance, and asset location are among the keys to ensuring you have the right number and types of vehicles in the right place. Right-sizing is a key to continued operational efficiency. Having the right mix of assets ensures maximum productivity—minimizing downtime and having the right assets available at the right time in the right location—which leads to better customer service and an enhanced revenue stream. The solution you use for your right-sizing process should be scalable, designed not only to give you the tools to grow today…but also grow along with you as the fleet and company succeed.
If you’re playing Goldilocks and having trouble determining the assets and resources that are “just right” for your organization, let us know. We can help you leverage telematics data to optimize your fleet resources. Contact us today!
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