In a recent article published on the U.S. NAFA website, the issue of identifying underutilized vehicles in fleets was discussed.
Lexi Sackett, Director of Business Intelligence for Utilimarc, explains to fleet managers that it is currently difficult for them to keep track of their inventories while operating costs are continually rising.
To manage fleet vehicles more efficiently, she recommends using telematics data to carefully measure the use of all rolling stock.
“Data is the best decision-making tool,” she says. And one of those important data points to analyze is the usage of each vehicle.”
She says the goal is to ensure that each unit is used to its full potential.
However, she notes that it is normal to have vehicles that will run less or that will be used as a reserve when needed.
Telematics data from vehicles is an excellent starting point as it shows hours of use, vehicle position, and time the vehicle is stationary and idling, among other things.
Determining whether a vehicle is underutilized includes the number of miles driven monthly, the hours the engine has been running, the number of days spent in maintenance or repair, the number of daily trips, or whether the vehicle breaks down and must be replaced immediately.
The balance to be struck is not to unnecessarily support underutilized vehicles while ensuring that we have the units needed to carry out the company’s mission.
In an interview with Autosphere.ca, Guillaume Poudrier, President of Geothentic, confirms that telematics is at the heart of sound inventory management.
We need to understand the overall performance of the fleet,” he says. Then, it will be possible to draw a picture of the more problematic cases. By clearly identifying the company’s needs, we can ensure that each vehicle has its purpose.”
Poudrier says that measuring the fleet requires a shared culture of efficiency within the company.
We still see too many department managers keeping vehicles sitting in the parking lot just to reassure themselves,” he says. “Some want more than they need. In this type of situation, there is always the option of using a short-term lease instead of keeping a vehicle in the fleet unnecessarily.”
For the expert, once underutilized vehicles are identified, the next strategy is to choose the best time to resell them.
When asked about the scarcity of new commercial vehicles on the market, Mr. Poudrier recommends caution.
Don’t jump on a poorly suited replacement just because it’s available,” he advises. “It’s better to keep a vehicle longer, even if it means paying more for maintenance, or to lease one, than to make a purchase you may regret.”