How Better Fleet Management Leads to More Value

ThinkstockPhotos 494480125By Willy Schlacks

Traditionally, fleet managers are uptime-minded. They devote their focus to machines that are in use. But what if fleet management were looked at from an angle that views idle machines as both an issue and an opportunity? With this approach, fleet managers might realize that an astonishing proportion of their assets are underutilized. They also might realize that they have no idea where these idle assets are located or whether they’re in working order.

 Holistic fleet tracking — in which active and inactive assets are studied in depth and treated equally — no longer has to be exceedingly costly and time-consuming. New technology and services are making it a breeze, offering fleet managers a golden opportunity to improve their maintenance protocols, make use of idle machines, or even monetize them in unique ways. Here are three steps you can take to modernize fleet management:

1. Track your downtime. Every asset — idle or not — has a cost of ownership. If more than half of your fleet is gathering dust most out of the year, you’re essentially throwing away money. When equipment is underutilized, it causes a chain reaction of overhead costs that kill your competitive edge. Although you may be saving on gasoline, you’re spending excess on insurance, storage, and maintenance.

When you understand the direct correlation between fleet utilization and effective management, you can begin to make the right decisions that elevate your return on investment to unprecedented levels.

2. Embrace telematics. The right telematics system can make fleet management significantly easier by digitizing and automating the collection of equipment data. All machines in a fleet can be equipped with wireless sensors that beam location, usage and maintenance data to an online dashboard that anyone within a company can access.

By logging in, fleet managers can see exactly where every piece of equipment is, how long it’s been located on that site, how many hours it’s being used per day, and how healthy its engine is. In the past, collecting and analyzing all these insights in a timely manner would’ve been impossible. Today, telematics makes this possible with the click of a button.

3. Focus on preventive maintenance. Maintenance will always be a necessary cost, but you can cut down your spending by taking a preventive approach. Every year, maintenance should cost about 1 or 2 percent of the machine’s value, but that number can jump to as much as 25 percent if an asset isn’t proactively taken care of over time.

With the data made possible by telematics, you can set up a maintenance system that tracks equipment’s overall health and alerts you to any problems brewing beneath the surface. This all but eliminates the chance of a major breakdown blindsiding your operation.

By adopting a mindset that’s receptive to change and always seeking new ways to boost efficiency and profitability, you will ensure your fleet runs like a well-oiled machine — or, rather, a group of well-oiled machines.

Willy Schlacks is the president and co-founder of EquipmentShare, a peer-to-peer construction equipment rental company based in Columbia, Missouri. The business has grown exponentially and is expanding from mid-Missouri to Texas and Florida. Schlacks, who is skilled in construction management and telematics, was featured on the Columbia Business Times 20 Under 40 list.

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