We are living in a truly digital world where every business in every sector is turning to digital data to help solve problems and inform direction. The trucking industry is no exception—and the opportunities are seemingly endless. Fleet managers are using data to track and control deliveries, monitor spending, and keep up with compliance. There are dozens of software solutions leveraging data to make business more efficient and even more that focus on safety. Here are just a few of the benefits the industry has captured through the analysis of fleet data.
Top 7 Benefits of Fleet Data Analytics
- Data to track driving behavior and monitor safety
- Data to recruit employees who will stay and stay relevant
- Data from credit cards to show buying patterns and behavior
- Data to accurately forecast and budget fleet expenses
- Data for efficiencies on the road through GPS scheduling
- Data to streamline logistics and supply chain strategies
- Data to monitor and maintain truck maintenance
Fleet Managers are able to differentiate the information they are gathering and prioritize how they apply that information. Fleet data is generated in two distinctive ways—on and off the truck. Fleet data generated on the truck can include vehicle performance, driver behavior, and environment insights through GPS and telematics. Fleet insights and data collected off the truck are usually generated from office operations systems and include everything from transportation management and insurance to compliance records, vehicle maintenance, and payment systems.
Addressing the Driver Shortage Through Fleet Analytics
Predictive data analytics can even be used to address the driver shortage by aggressively recruiting through fleet data instead of the traditional approach.
The more the shortage is prominent, the more aggressively you have to recruit. You often get people in the ‘hopper’ who are quick to leave, and therefore you need to replace even more people. And so, we are trying to stop this vicious cycle and trying to see how we can use analytics … to attack that.
— Tim Judge, Stay Metrics’ director of research and a professor in the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame
Data collection during the interview process, as well as training and real-time feedback throughout the length of the person’s career, can provide a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the company as well as the causes for turnover. Stay Metrics suggests that common complaints include behavioral issues like confrontational dispatchers, or consistently late shipping, and scheduling managers. Tracking this kind of feedback means issues can be addressed before the driver chooses to leave.
Trucking companies are also using predictive fleet analytics to measure characteristic traits that reveal the most successful drivers or profitable accounts. Best practices can be put into place along with loyalty programs that will reward employees and encourage positive performance as well as employee retention. Keeping the employee happy goes a long way in keeping them at the company.
As part of its driver-retention efforts, PS Logistics of Birmingham, Alabama, puts a premium on the connection between driver managers and drivers, giving managers the discretion to send a driver home, for example, or to make other accommodations to get that driver happy and productive again.
— Kimberley Daigle, vice president of human resources.
By maintaining a focus on the relationship between the manager and the driver, PS Logistics has seen success in proactive communications made possible by identifying changes in behavior typical of a driver’s decision to leave. By tracking hours in service logs and subtle changes in driver actions, the data can indicate that the driver is 90% to 100% likely to leave. The data then triggers direct communications from the fleet manager or supervisor to address the signs, engage the driver, and confront the situation.
As seemingly invaluable as this kind of fleet data analytics has become, it has also become a considerable expense that many fleets are challenged to afford, fleet factoring companies can help. A fleet factoring company like Fleet One can provide the best strategy for building the cost into the budget by considering the invoices available for factoring. Operational expenses are often a challenge for a small to medium-sized fleet to keep up with. An experienced fleet factoring company that knows the trucking business and can guide financial strategies can work to enable implementing predictive analytics without the complications of a bank loan.
Fleet Analytics Shapes Action
Payment leader WEX uses fleet analytics to deliver value to the customer. They see the process as threefold:
- Generating insights from data
- Finding patterns in data
- Using data to answer questions
Just as PS Logistics is turning fleet data into action, so too is WEX. Their proprietary analytics tool analyzes fuel and vehicle data to identify fuel purchasing habits and wasteful spending that can hurt the bottom line. Once the fleet analytics identify such a driver, an email is generated to remind the driver to purchase less expensive fuel.
Within 24 hours, 84% of the drivers contacted had changed their buying behavior. For a large fleet, this single change in fueling behavior can save the company thousands of dollars per month.
So, when it comes to fleet analytics, there is much more to learn, but what is clear is that the investment is critical, and with fleet factoring companies to help, any fleet can enable fleet data to drive success today and into the future.