Managing and maintaining a commercial fleet can be a challenging and costly endeavor. And for fleet managers, clearly understanding all areas of potential cost savings is critical to maintaining a lean and efficient operation.
Of course, there are big-ticket maintenance items like engines and transmissions that will always be a significant part of your overall budget. But many other potential cost savings opportunities are often overlooked.
Here are three commonly overlooked maintenance items that can eat into your fleet costs if not properly managed:
1. Changing Your Tires Too Early
One of fleet managers’ most common mistakes is changing their tires too early. While it may seem reasonable to err on the side of caution and replace your commercial vehicles’ tires before they wear out, it costs you more in the long run.
Tires are designed to last a certain number of miles, and replacing them before they’ve reached that point means you’re overspending on tires. The average semi-truck tire costs $500. If you’re changing tires prematurely, especially across an entire fleet, this cost can quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars.
For example, if you have a fleet of 20 trucks and each truck has six tires, replacing all the tires when they’re half-worn would cost you $60,000. But if you wait until the tires reach their last 25 percent of wear, you’d only spend $30,000 – half as much!
Let’s look at the factors that impact commercial tire lifespan:
- Mileage: When considering when to repair semi-truck trailer tires, mileage covered shouldn’t be the only aspect considered. Fleets driving on backcountry roads or near construction sites where stones could penetrate the tire should replace tires sooner than those used mainly on highways.
- Tire Type: The type of tire you use for your trucks impacts their replacement frequency d. Experts recommend specialized trailer tires (STs) because their construction supports fifth-wheel and travel trailers.
- Age: You may not realize it, but even if a tire is unused, it can age and degrade. Tires can last up to six years if properly stored, but they should be replaced regardless of the mileage.
Ultimately, the best way to predict when a semi-truck will need tire repair or replacement, fleet managers should look at the vehicle’s yearly mileage and miles per 1/32nd tread depth loss. Fortunately, there are tools available that make this process easier.
2. Excessive Speeding Causing Added Fuel Burn
Research shows that fuel costs can make up nearly 60% of a company’s operating budget. And according to a UMTRI study, aggressive driving can reduce fuel efficiency by up to 30%.
If your drivers are speeding, it’s not only putting them and other motorists at risk but also costing you a significant amount of money.
In addition to the wear-and-tear excessive speeding causes on a vehicle, it also increases fuel consumption. The faster a vehicle drives, the more fuel it burns.
As a fleet manager, you won’t be able to control fluctuating fuel prices. But you can control how much fuel your vehicles consume by monitoring and managing your drivers’ activity.
Here are a few considerations for calculating fuel costs as a fleet manager:
- What is the current cost per gallon for fuel?
- How much does each vehicle burn (on average)?
- How many miles does each vehicle drive (on average)?
- What are your fixed costs per vehicle (i.e., insurance, registration, tolls)?
- Are your drivers fully trained in efficient driving techniques?
By understanding these factors, you’ll be able to predict and manage your fuel budget more accurately. You’ll also be able to ensure that your drivers are adhering to best practices and not wasting fuel – or putting your vehicles at risk.
3. Unbalanced Routes that lead to Wasted Time and Miles Zig-Zagging Across Town
An efficient route is the key to reducing wear and tear on your vehicles and lowering your fleet’s overall operating costs. But many fleet managers don’t realize that their routes may not be as efficient as they could be. And as a fleet expands, the need for route optimization becomes even more critical.
When looking at your fleet’s routes, a few of the most common issues include:
- Unbalanced routes that don’t evenly distribute the number of stops or miles driven
- Unnecessary stops that add time and distance to the route
- Inefficient routing that doesn’t take into account traffic patterns or construction
Each of these issues can add unnecessary wear and tear to your vehicles, increasing maintenance costs. What this means for your bottom line is that you’re spending more money to keep your fleet on the road.
What Can You Do to Improve Your Routes?
Route optimization involves mapping out the most efficient way to complete a delivery or service. The goal of a route planner is to minimize the number of stops, miles driven, and time spent on the road. To do so, you’ll have to:
- Determine the best route for each vehicle based on its size and capacity.
- Consider traffic patterns, construction, and other obstacles impacting the route.
- Calculate the optimal time to leave based on the delivery or service window.
- Load each vehicle in a way that balances the weight and maximizes space.
- Monitor your fleet’s performance to identify areas for improvement.
- Ensure that your drivers follow the routes and stick to the schedule.
- Know how often your vehicles will require maintenance or repairs based on averages over time.
With our fleet optimization solutions, you can streamline the route planning process and ensure your fleet runs as efficiently as possible every step of the way.
By working with Eagle Wireless, you can get the most out of your fleet and lower overall operating costs. We offer various fleet management solutions designed to help you run your fleet more efficiently, including:
- ELD HOS compliance solutions
- GPS tracking and vehicle telematics
- Asset tracking
- Route optimization and planning
- Cameras and sensors
Using our tools to monitor commercial vehicle health, driver behavior, and fleet performance, you can make the necessary changes to improve your fleet’s efficiency and avoid costly maintenance mistakes.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you optimize your fleet.