FLEET ANALYTICS: CHANGE THE WAY CARRIERS, TRUCKSTOPS OPERATE

Today’s fleets have information coming at them from all direc­tions. Engine sensors, telematics devices and electronic logging devic­es are transmitting data in real time, and a growing number of fleets are analyzing that information to obtain value. What they find could change the way truckstop and travel plaza operators do business, according to those within the industry.

“When you talk about fleet analyt­ics, the range of what fleets are using in terms of analytics range from JB Hunt’s announcement that they’ll be spending $500 million over the next five years, much of it in analytics, at the top end to the small fleet that will probably be pushed into it either by government regulation or what their customer, the shipper, demands that they do,” said Roger Cole, a former NATSO chairman and editor of NATSO’s Biz Brief.

Brian Larwig, vice president of business intelligence and optimiza­tion, at TMW Systems, said fleets look at analytics to evaluate their operational status as well as their revenue and expenses. “They do that through thousands of different met­rics,” he said, adding that carriers can look at revenue by lane and customer. “The other side is using analytics to drive the business forward and use it predictively. They’re looking at trends over time.”

Mike Lombardi, recently retired executive vice president for sales for TA, said some fleets are incorporat­ing data from engine and powertrain sensors into the ELD so all the infor­mation is transmitted together, giving fleets a window into the truck and the engine. “They know what is happen­ing in real time and they don’t have to wait to run the data,” he said.

TRACKING SPEED

Upcoming regulations will mandate electronic logging devices (ELDs) for most carriers.

Randy Seals, customer advocate for McLeod, said electronic logging devices are going to change fleets’ priorities. “The one asset now that you will really have is time. That is going to be the real analytical benchmark that people need to see,” he said. “Fleets are going to look at the time it takes to move a load from the time the load gets on their wagon and get off their wagon.”

That means the speed with which a driver can get in and out matters. “The fleet is going to get down-to-the-minute detail to make the truck the most efficient in terms of the amount of time and cost to operate the vehicle,” Cole said.

Fleets will be looking at how fast they can fuel and if there is a way to fuel faster, Seals said. “The only asset you have is time. If you have a fleet of 100 trucks and you save each one 10 minutes a day in fueling, in rate per mile what you can save is huge,” he said. “If I’m a truckstop operator, I’m asking what I can do to help them.”

Fleets can use data to determine how long a truck idles and where it idles. “Fleets can use that informa­tion as it relates to fueling locations. If the engine is idling for a long time before it shuts down to fuel, you can determine the cost of the idling time,” Cole said.

Little things, such as a fuel clerk delivering a receipt to a driver rather than a driver having to enter the lo­cation, could help attract time-con­scious customers, Seals said, adding that fuel island staff could be wait­ing on the islands to fuel tractors. “That equates to cents per mile in time. That is how the analytics tie back to the truckstops and travel plazas,” he said.

Seals said the opportunity to schedule fueling times could benefit fleets. “If the driver could hit a but­ton and say if he is going to arrive in 30 minutes, it could make the fleet more efficient. Just like you schedule your maintenance on tractors, you could schedule your fuel,” he said.

Seals said the increase in e-com­merce is going to lead to more regionalized transportation, and time could become even more criti­cal. Locations may even be able to charge for added convenience if it gets drivers in and out faster. “I can tell my customers, ‘I’m going to raise my price of fuel, but look at what I’ve given you,’” he said.

DETERMINING STOPS

TMW’s Trip Alert is constantly aware of where drivers are, where they are stopping and why and driv­ers’ hours-of-service status in real time. Larwig said fleets routinely look at data on where stops are happening. “It isn’t as much about preferred stop areas but more that they’re stopping at the appropriate times and roughly where. Now it is much more visible,” he said, add­ing that he doesn’t necessarily know how that will affect truckstop and travel plaza operators.

TMW also offers products that al­low fleets to run a detailed fuel anal­ysis. “It may incentivize stopping earlier for fuel than is needed be­cause one state may have lower rates or fuel taxes. Expert Fuel focuses specifically on when and where you should stop based on national rates and negotiated rates,” Larwig said.

Fleets could also use data to com­pare fuel quality and miles per gal­lon achieved when fueling at spe­cific locations. 

“Fleets can use data to see where they are purchasing their fuel and what the benefits would be to change fueling practices and go somewhere else,” Lombardi said.

Larwig said TMW allows carriers to track fuel mileage by truckstop. “We do MPG and we can do MPG by fuel stop. I would bet those who dig into their lane-by-lane data have done that,” he said.

EVALUATING FUEL ECONOMY

TravelCenters of America has found that fleets are using analytics to mea­sure fuel economy and maintenance, said Lombardi.

For example, if one truckstop was located on the top of a hill, engine analytics could track the RPMs it takes to reach the location, which af­fects fuel efficiency. “Some fleets are looking at it all the way down to that level,” Cole said. “They say, “We’re incurring this cost to climb that hill or then the brake expense to go down the hill,’” Cole said. “If there is a truckstop at the bottom of the hill, the cost might make more sense.”

IMPROVING MAINTENANCE

Information is allowing fleets to be more proactive. “With geofencing, it dumps information back to the fleet that says in the next 1,200 miles, you’re going to need headlights or windshield wipers. Those are the low-impact type of repairs that could put you out of service,” Cole said. 

Cole expects to see more geo­fencing to transmit a more detailed amount of data between the truck and the shop. “When a truck gets into a certain geography, the engine computers and all of the diagnostic equipment on the truck can dump that to the travel plaza location and then back to the fleet’s home office. A more detailed amount of data flows between the truck and the truckstop if the truck is in the shop.

LOOKING AHEAD

Those within the industry agreed that the amount of data being col­lected will only increase, particular­ly as the ELD mandate takes effect. “That is a huge change. Now every­body will have ELDs, so you have more density of data,” Larwig said.

“Everybody is going to have to re-think their playbook and how things are going to work,” Seals said.

Lombardi said some fleets are incor­porating data from engine and pow­ertrain sensors into ELDs so all the information is transmitted together, giving fleets a window into the truck and the engine. “They know what is happening in real time and they don’t have to wait to run the data,” he said.

Cole said there is data on every stop now. “Independent operators will have to start thinking about fleet analytics,” he said.



via Business Feeds

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