Minimizing miles driven and empty miles, while meeting delivery commitments, has always been the primary objective for fleet operators. Achieving this objective requires taking a holistic perspective of fleet management, one that takes into consideration three critical elements: drivers, equipment, and operations.
That was the focus of my conversation with Todd Bucher, Vice President of Fleet Management at MercuryGate, on a recent episode of Talking Logistics. We started with driver management, which is becoming more important due to hours of service and carrier safety regulations, which in turn is prompting transportation management system (TMS) vendors to enhance their capabilities in this area.
“When I look at managing drivers, I think of safety and efficiency going together,” said Bucher. “If your drivers are out of compliance [with hours of service or other requirements] or getting stopped at roadside inspections or they’re having other issues, you can’t deliver what your customer needs.”
There are many factors fleet operators need to track and manage in order to make sure their drivers are eligible to operate and be in compliance with regulations, such as license expiration dates and the need to renew any permits (e.g., HazMat), certificates, or training, as well as other things that can impact planning and scheduling, such as vacation and time-off schedules.
“You also want to integrate with Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) providers so that you can get that log data [into the TMS],” said Bucher. “It is critical that you understand a driver’s availability [as it relates to hours of service]. Back in the day, you waited a week to get the paper log back and you would get surprised sometimes [by a driver operating beyond allowable hours]. Now you can stay safe and be aware of what you need to know for driver availability [in a more timely manner], and bringing that data into the TMS and using it in your execution workflow is critical.”
Bucher also discussed new TMS capabilities, such as predictive CSA driver safety scoring using the FMCSA’s methodology. “Using details from roadside inspections, crashes, traffic violations, and other data sources, you can see trends in advance before they impact your score,” said Bucher, “and that allows you to be proactive with training or other actions to make sure your drivers are staying safe, which keeps them in your fleet and available to service your customer.”
So, what kind of benefits can companies can achieve by using a fleet management solution and taking a more integrated approach to fleet management? Bucher shares some of the benefit buckets in the clip below:
One example shared by Bucher: “We had one customer who after a few months of using the TMS was able to handle 40 percent more freight from their number one customer, without extra people or trucks, by being more efficient in how they managed their overall fleet operations.”
What questions should fleet operators ask themselves to assess whether their current approach to managing their drivers, equipment, and operations are aligned with leading practices? Bucher proposes the following questions, which he discusses in the clip below:
- Do you use multiple platforms to manage your transportation processes?
- Do you have a lot of manual processes?
- What does it take to train your new employees? How long does it take for them to be productive?
- Do you know the utilization rate of your drivers and equipment?
I can encourage you to watch the full episode to get additional insight and advice on this topic. Then post a comment or question and keep the conversation going!