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Improve Fleet Optimization

Improve Fleet Optimization
Par Joseph evangelist
Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange

In a perfect world, all fleet managers would have perfectly optimized fleets. But in the real world, getting that perfect optimization can be extremely difficult for a variety of reasons.

That said, I think most fleets can improve their optimization percentage if they analyze each component. Start by reviewing your current optimization record, looking at each day of the week and each week of the month. Once you have determined the factor or factors that are preventing you from achieving the desired level of optimization, you are ready to find solutions to the problem.

Your optimization analysis begins by looking at the amount and types of freight you deliver, delivery frequency, and delivery windows. Working with customers and delivery points to determine flexibility in this area is essential. How freight is loaded and unloaded can play a role. Is it palletized? Wrapped? Floor loaded? Then look at the time it takes to move the product from point “A” – where the driver picks up the load – to point “B” – the delivery destination. You can use the average road speed for this calculation.

Other data you will need: Once the driver is at the delivery location, how long is the stop? Is it a 15 minute stop or 30 minutes or more? Does the driver have “declining” loads, meaning they drop off part of the load at multiple stops? If so, is the truck loaded such that when one load is delivered, the next load is ahead? Is there a way to sequence commands to make the driver more efficient? Are load assessment surveys performed regularly? In many cases, warehouse/shippers are insensitive to the challenges faced by drivers at delivery points.

Assessing customer order cycles can also provide important opportunities. Do you make 10 stops one day, eight the next, and nine the next? Working with your customers to better understand and analyze exactly how many stops they have and what they are doing by location will help you identify if there are opportunities for consolidation. Are there other contributing factors to consider? For example, if your customer is in the bakery industry, you’ll need to pick up lockers, a standard delivery system for baked goods. Or if your customer is a retailer, you may need to pick up empty bins etc. This could not only contribute to delivery time, but could also impact return opportunities.

Even the size of the trailer needs to be considered. We recently worked with a customer to redesign their trailer specifications to increase the interior height of the trailer. Working with the trailer manufacturer to increase the interior height of the trailer an additional two inches has allowed them to increase their stacks from eight boxes to nine. If you think about the depth of a trailer, you have crates stacked in rows from floor to ceiling. That means extra crate front to back and side to side in each row. That’s a lot of extra crates per trailer load, reducing the transportation cost per crate delivered.

And the drivers? How many are there? What are their eligible hours of service? What is their level of proficiency and comfort with certain types of vehicles? Do you have advanced delivery software to allow the delivery point to be prepared for delivery, making it more efficient?

At first glance, this may seem like a lot of information to process and running an optimization analysis of your fleet may take some time. But in the long run, if done correctly, it can yield big wins. These same principles apply whether we work with our rental customers (their drivers) or our dedicated transport customers (our drivers).

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