When it comes to managing a trucking company, there’s a lot to consider. That’s why your best bet is going with a telematics solution that can help you sort through the mountains of data. Even more, you want to be able to evaluate key performance indicators that move the needle of your business.
You have established your fleet goals, installed the latest technology and collected all-important telematics data. So, what now? Operating a fleet is one thing but knowing whether you’re doing so effectively is a completely different situation. This is where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come into play. KPIs are measurements that help you understand how your trucking company is performing.
You can only improve what you measure. For a KPI to be viewed as effective, it must be:
- Well-defined and quantifiable.
- Communicated throughout the organization and department.
- Crucial to achieving a specific goal.
- Applicable to the Line of Business (LOB) or department.
KPIs can differ based on fleet size and the type of industry (every fleet has its own unique challenges) but there are certain indicators that every fleet manager should be measuring. Let’s discuss what eight of these KPIs are and what they can tell you about your fleet’s performance.
There is no doubt that excess speed increases the risk of car crash-related injuries and deaths. In 2015 it was found that 27% of fatal crashes involved at least one speeding driver. Tracking and ultimately curbing incidents of speeding can greatly decrease the risk of fatalities on the road. Not only does speeding negatively impact fleet safety, it also decreases fuel economy.
According to the website, fueleconomy.gov, gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. It is assumed that for every 5-mph driven over 50 mph, you are paying an additional $0.18 per gallon for gas. By monitoring and reducing speeding incidents, you are likely to see a fuel saving of between 7% and 14%.
Harsh Braking and Acceleration
When more force than necessary is applied to a vehicle’s brake or accelerator, telematics technology will trigger for these events. Both could indicate that a driver is engaging in unsafe or aggressive behaviors on the road. Harsh braking on a regular basis can be due to driver distraction or tailgating and is often a sign that the driver is narrowly avoiding crashes on a frequent basis.
This behavior increases risk to the safety of your fleet. Regularly applying unnecessary force to the brake will increase wear and tear to brake pads and tires. In turn, it will increase the need for maintenance and its related costs. Harsh acceleration and harsh braking go together as the former is usually preceded by the latter. Both are thus equally important to take note of.
Measuring these two indicators can help to identify drivers who need training to curb to learn to drive more smoothly. Smoother driving reduces the risk of crashes, wear and tear on vehicles and excessive fuel consumption.
This may be obvious, but crashes of any kind pose a huge threat to the safety of your fleet. It also affects fleet efficiency (because of resultant downtime) and, brings on unnecessary costs due to repairs and possible insurance claims.
In the event of a crash you need to know what happened, who was involved and why it happened. The “why” can be viewed as the most important. Establishing what caused the accidents can help you determine whether the driver was at fault and, if that is the case, provide training to prevent the same incident from occurring again. Should the driver not be at fault, you have data to back you up when insurance comes into play.
As you may likely know, fuel economy refers to the relationship between the distance travelled by a vehicle and the amount of fuel consumed. There are two ways consumption can be measured. One way is the volume of fuel it takes to travel a certain distance and another way is the distanced travelled per volume of fuel consumed.
There are a wide variety of factors that influence how economical your fleet is with fuel including:
- Rapid acceleration
- Harsh braking
- Excessive idling
- Cold weather in combination with frequent short trips
- Carrying excessive weight
- Driving on hilly terrain
- Not doing regular maintenance on brake pads, tires, air filters and so forth
Empty (or underutilized) miles refer to instances where revenue-creating vehicles are operating without carrying a load or passengers. For example, if a truck completes a delivery and then drives back 500 miles without carrying anything, that truck has driven 500 empty miles. Those miles have then essentially not generated income.
It’s easy to see that empty miles are a waste of fuel, time and money. But many people do not realize that it can also be a safety hazard on the road. If a truck or similarly bulky vehicle is driving around empty, it can more easily sway and flip over in windy weather conditions which can lead to accidents. Even more reason to monitor those empty miles!
Fleet Asset Utilization
Fleet asset utilization is a great way to measure how efficiently your fleet is operating. There are several factors you can look at to know this KPI and some of these include:
- Volume a vehicle can carry versus what is currently being carried
- Driver Hours of Service that are not allocated
- Customer service requirements (such as specific time windows for deliveries)
- Duration of stops
- Empty or underutilized miles
- Amount of stops en-route
- Maintenance and resultant downtime
- Arrival and departure times
- Travel time in-between jobs.
When fleet assets are not used to their full capacity at the most optimal times, you end up losing time and ultimately money.
Available and Violated
Hours of Service According to the FMCSA’s Hours of Service rule (as part of the ELD mandate), operators of commercial motor vehicles and for-hire private motor carriers are limited to a number of daily and weekly driving and working hours. This rule also regulates the minimum amount of time drivers must spend resting between driving shifts.
Tracking Hours of Service helps to achieve and maintain compliance with the ELD mandate and its HOS rule. What’s more is that where there are available Hours of Service, drivers can be assigned more driving time (a plus for increased fleet asset utilization) and drivers utilizing too many hours can be monitored. Not only does measuring this KPI assist with compliance, it also improves the safety of a fleet. Hours of Service was originally designed to combat driver fatigue.
When drivers are working too many hours and not sleeping enough, it can cause drowsiness. Drowsy drivers are less able to pay attention to the road, have slower reaction times and cannot make good decisions. The NHTSA estimates that up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be the result of drowsy driving. Commercial drivers, shift workers and drivers who do not get enough sleep due to work are at a higher risk of driving drowsy. Taking all this into account there’s no doubt as to the importance of closely monitoring HOS.
When someone drives a fleet vehicle without logging it in an electronic logging device (ELD), this is unassigned mileage. Before the advent of the ELD mandate, there were no unassigned driving events as each driver filled out their own paper logs. Now it is compulsory that an ELD must create a log every time the vehicle is moved.
All unassigned drive time records must either be annotated or reassigned to a driver and cannot be left unclaimed. Both drivers and carriers are held accountable for unassigned mileage and non-compliance means being in violation of the ELD mandate. However, the onus ultimately falls on carriers to resolve the unassigned drive time by properly maintaining all logs by checking on them at least once a day.
Keeping an eye on unassigned mileage is vital in showing where compliance is lacking. Truck drivers also need to motivate why they are claiming a particular log. These motivations can help put a spotlight on times when vehicles are being misused or simply improperly utilized.
We hope that you have found today’s blog on fleet-related KPIs helpful. Bear in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Now that you are a bit more knowledgeable about the basics, you can custom pick which KPIs are best for YOU to measure. For the best results, it’s important to choose the KPIs that align with your current goals, helping you to achieve what you set out to do.