The value of digging deeper into the data

By: David Threlfall


SPONSORED CONTENT: In an environment where finding ways to reduce costs and improve productivity is crucial, savvy operators are looking closely at the use of data analytics to stay ahead

The value of digging deeper into the data
David Threlfall

 

Today, fleet managers are under increasing pressure to reduce cost and increase fleet up-time.

This makes it more critical than ever to collect and analyse data that can deliver operational insights into fleet performance and help influence strategy changes.

Historically, personal preferences, such as brand reputation and provider loyalty, have been key factors driving fleet management choices. Today, technology and data are front and centre of decision making.

With advances in vehicle telematics, data accessibility has increased exponentially and continues to improve as technology evolves. 

So it is vital that we maintain vigilance in this area. Vehicle monitoring and data analysis are paramount to driving improved fleet efficiency and establishing equipment compliance responsibility.  

Effective analysis of data enables fleet operators to make informed decisions on every operational aspect, from selecting the right vehicle specifications, achieving optimum utilisation and productivity levels, to ultimately retiring equipment before the onset of costly life cycle repairs.

Data can help guide the management of the fleet’s lifecycle, from vehicle or equipment selection to in-life fleet management and disposal. Maximising up-time during the life of an asset is essential to fleet efficiency.

Proper use and analysis of data will improve the fleet manager’s ability to keep assets out of the repair shop and on the road by optimising maintenance, compliance, fuel, and driver behaviour.

Vehicle and equipment selection

Selecting the right vehicles and equipment for your business is a critical fleet management function.  It is widely acknowledged that vehicles and equipment should be fit for purpose, however to do so requires operators to develop a solid understanding of business requirements and expectations in the first instance. 

Consideration also needs to be given to fleet flexibility, operating environment, service network, fuel efficiency and safety.  ‘Over-speccing’ of vehicles can add unnecessary weight and cost and should be avoided if any operational benefit is unlikely, notwithstanding legal ramifications through non-compliant vehicles.

Access to good data will help fleet managers evaluate whole-of-life cost of an asset rather than just its purchase price.  Further challenges arise where there are difficulties in estimating future values, maintenance and repair costs and real-life fuel consumption. 

This is where data analysis can come to the forefront of decision making. Another key factor in whole of life cost analysis is determining the right time to retire assets.  Too short, and whole of life costs may be higher than necessary. 

Too long, and you run the risk of increased fleet downtime, unbudgeted repair expenses and in some cases the added cost of replacement vehicle hire whilst also delaying access to new more efficient and cost effective vehicles . 

In-life fleet management

Whole of life costs are best contained through the application of continuous improvement and initiatives based on reporting and measurement of change.

Exception reporting, monitoring driver behaviour, through fleet management and data analysis provides the means to introduce operational change.

Fleet compliance is achieved through a chain of responsibility, whereby every freight activity, data, and process needs to be documented.

Commonly, data from different providers is used to document and log compliance information. However, using one provider or system/software to collate all data will allow fleet managers have a full picture of how the entire fleet is performing, rather than approaching the fleet in multiple segments or having to spend time pulling data together to create a full picture.

Tracking systems such as, in vehicle asset management (IVAM) allow data to be collected and reported back centrally. Being able to view the entire fleet as one will allow fleet managers to realign and make decisions based on a complete line-of-sight and ensure fleet strategy objectives are met.

Tracking and reporting on fuel consumption allow a fleet operator to monitor driver behaviour and ensure costs are kept in-check. Further the ability to monitor fuel consumption will help identify practices such as over-fuelling. If this is spotted, fleet operators can address these behaviours before costs get out of control.

Driver behaviour can also influence fuel economy as well as R&M costs. Fleet management tracking and reporting provides the critical data to flag relevant incidences and exceptions needed to control and manage a fleet’s efficiency and productivity. Tracking devices, coupled with effective reporting systems, allow fleet operators to analyse and report on their fleet more efficiently.  

SG Fleet’s Fleetintelligence is an example of an online portal that presents data via easy to interpret dashboards, providing all relevant information needed to make fleet management decisions.

Today, technology allows for the extraction of large amounts of data. However, it is what we do with the data that counts. By understanding the data and making data lead decisions, fleet operators have the opportunity to better utilise their assets, reduce costs, and keep their vehicles compliant and on the road.

The right technology, data analysis and fleet management systems will help operators make sound decisions in a timely manner.

Bringing all the data together

As discussed there are numerous tool s and sources for obtaining information to aid Fleet Managers with their analysis of data. This is not only limited to Telematics providers but Vehicle Manufacturers as well as some very good independent fleet management and leasing organisations (FMOs).

These providers, particularly FMOs, have made significant investment in systems and data analytics to help Fleet Managers navigate through what sometimes appears to be a minefield of information to assist them with concentration on the exceptions that will drive improvements and achieve cost savings.

In addition many operators are now adopting operating lease funding facilities and fixed cost maintenance programs to overcome the risk and repair vagaries. This is providing greater confidence and certainty to their business and is an excellent way to incorporate data tracking into a lease and fleet management facility through an independent fleet management organisation.

David Threlfall is the Head of Commercial Fleet for SG Fleet

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