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nitrogen tire inflation for managed fleetsFuel costs are one of the biggest costs for managed fleets, but also one of the hardest to decrease without hurting fleet productivity.  Offsetting some of the expenses to drivers may have consequences on employee morale and retention . Reducing usage could mean fewer routes, fewer vehicles on the road, and less revenue overall. Fortunately, with the right data, fleet managers can save money on gas without long-term consequences on the fleet and the company. Here are four ways managed fleets can save money on fuel:

Implementing a Fuel Card Program

Every fleet manager wants to trust their employees, and a fuel card program may seem like a way to “look over everyone’s shoulder” as they refuel vehicles at the gas station. But, a program can eliminate the small non-fuel purchases that drivers add on, such as a soda or a pack of cigarettes. Each individual driver may not intend harm and deceit by adding those purchases, but if every driver is doing that, then every single one of those purchases will add unnecessary expenses to the fleet’s fuel costs. The drivers may not see their small non-fuel purchases as a big deal, but they do mean thousands of dollars spent on items that have nothing to do with refilling the tank.

Considering Fuel-Efficient Vehicles for Upcoming Fleet Purchases

Switching out the entire fleet for brand new vehicles is a massive and expensive overhaul, but when the time comes to purchase new vehicles, opting for more fuel-efficient models is a great way to start. With one or two fuel-efficient fleet vehicles, it’s easy to measure and compare the fuel economy between the old and the new vehicles. After that, those numbers can be extrapolated across a 100- or 1000-vehicle fleet to determine how much gas would be saved if every single vehicle in the fleet was a fuel-efficient model. This data can justify a gradual overhaul or switching out a few more vehicles.

Improving Route Planning with a Fleet-Tracking System

Utilizing a fleet-tracking system will provide a managed fleet with hard data on where vehicles are going and how they are getting there, highlighting various opportunities for improvement. For example, many GPS fleet tracking system show current traffic conditions, so drivers can opt for a different route, reducing travel time and gas usage. A tracking system can also show where any fleet vehicle is at any given time, so if someone needs to be dispatched to a specific location, the fleet manager will know which one is closest and can send that vehicle. Fleet tracking isn’t just to make sure that drivers aren’t using company vehicles for personal purposes on the weekends. The traffic and location data can be used to ensure that gas and time isn’t wasted needlessly.

Using Nitrogen Tire Inflation

Nitrogen can improve fuel economy by 3 percent by keeping tires at their proper tire pressure for longer periods of time. Although regular air can also be used to maintain proper tire pressure, nitrogen tires lose their pressure at a slower rate than those filled with regular air, thus providing the benefits of proper tire pressure (increased fuel economy, increased traction, increased tire life etc.) for much longer. Switching to nitrogen tire inflation does take an initial investment because fleets need to purchase a special machine for the inflation, but much like using a fleet vehicle with better gas mileage, the benefits exponentially increase with each vehicle that uses nitrogen.

Overall, saving money on gas requires tracking and measuring current usage so that the fleet can find ways to cut costs. It’s not enough to say, “we need to use less.” To save money on gas, fleets need to know where is being wasted and improve fuel economy or efficiency in those areas.

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Saving Money ​On Tires​: How to Do It

On May 22, 2014, in Hybrid Tires, Saving Money, by allisonmreilly
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how to save money on tiresFor many managed fleets, tires represent about 20 percent of total expenses, putting them in the top three costs for operations and maintenance. For sanitation fleets, tires are the number one cost in operations and maintenance, costing the fleet more money than fuel. However, tracking the total cost of the tire from the beginning to the end of its life isn’t something that all managed fleets do, even though tracking the total cost will help many fleets save money on tires. Since saving money on tires can immensely help the bottom line of many managed fleets, here’s how to do it so that the fleet cuts its costs without sacrificing safety.

Invest in a Tire Management System

A tire management system can provide real time data about your fleet’s tires and alert drivers of any potential problems, such as a pending flat. Since the software measures tire pressure and tread depth, fleets can improve safety and fuel economy by catching these problems early. The system can also reduce maintenance costs by reducing the downtime of a particular vehicle. Topping off a vehicle costs less than replacing a blown out tire or assessing the tread depth of each tire manually. By taking the time to do smaller, preventative maintenance, fleets can also reduce their labor and tire replacement costs.

Although a tire management system can be done on paper, a manual system does not offer the same benefits as an online or computerized system. Not all commercial vehicles have tire pressure monitoring systems installed, so the driver has to remember to check the vehicle’s tire pressure and must remember to do so after the tires have cooled. Drivers should still continue to do this, but the information isn’t in real time. If a driver forgets, for whatever reason, then he/she may miss under-inflated tires that can lead to reduced fuel economy or to a safety hazard.

Make Tire Pressure the Number One Rule

Whether your tire management system is manual or on a computer, proper tire pressure should be the first thing in place for any management system. Proper tire pressure is much more than checking it routine, but a good tire management system should also include targeted pressures for the tires, designated periodic checks for proper tire pressure, and calibrated air gauges. Proper tire pressure cannot be assessed by sight or touch alone. A calibrated gauge needs to be used every time. A solid tire management system that emphasizes proper tire pressure can save a managed fleet thousands of dollars per month. It may take up to six months before the fleet sees the return on the investment, but it also takes only 30 to 60 days for a fleet to lose money on under-inflated tires because of the reduced fuel efficiency and the reduced tire life.

Consider Nitrogen Tire Inflation for Your Managed Fleet

While making tire pressure a top priority in your tire maintenance and management, consider the practice of nitrogen tire inflation. Nitrogen-inflated tires maintain proper tire pressure up to three times longer than an air-inflated tires. Tires inflated with regular air lose about 1.5 PSI per month, while nitrogen tires take about three months to lose the same amount of tire pressure. Managed fleets still need to check their tire pressure regularly with nitrogen tire inflation, but the practice will reduce the number of blowouts, flats and top offs while keeping fuel efficiency and tire life at their maximum. Much like tire management software, there is an initial investment needed when starting a nitrogen tire inflation program, but after a few months managed fleets will see a noticeable difference in the money saved on tires.

Overall, managed fleets need to view tires as an asset, not a commodity. If they are viewed as an asset, then the perspective shifts on how to get the most of the fleet’s tires and how to get the most out of that investment. The three strategies shared above will help your managed fleet save money on tires.

photo credit: psyberartist via photopin cc

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new years resolutions for managed fleetsThe first full week of 2014 is almost over, and resolutions may seem like a tradition that companies don’t normally do, this doesn’t mean that your managed fleet can’t have one or two goals for the year. After all, setting out to make this year better than last year isn’t a bad idea, and setting a fleet management resolution can help you do that. Here are three New Year’s resolutions for managed fleets:

Improve Safety and Compliance

Improving safety and compliance could mean tackling a variety of issues. For some fleets, improving safety could mean working with drivers to reduce accidents. For others, it could mean working on maintenance so vehicles don’t cause problems for drivers. Some managed fleets may decide to work on safety training and policies. Whichever way you choose to improve safety and compliance, it’s certainly a resolution on every managed fleet’s list, as these statistics show:

  • Drivers age 36-45 had the highest rate of accidents in 2011
  • The time of day with the highest rate of accidents is from 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
  • 86% of drivers drink and eat while driving
  • 77.7% of accidents occur on clear, sunny days – This one doesn’t necessarily mean weather isn’t a safety issue. It could mean that many fleets avoid driving in severe weather as a safety precaution, or reduce the number of vehicles on the road. It could also mean that drivers get more cautious as the weather worsens, lessening the chance of accident because they are paying much more attention to their surroundings.

Improve the Bottom Line

Reducing costs/increasing revenue is one of the biggest challenges facing fleet managers. It’s a constant struggle as some of these costs and revenue sources, such as fuel costs, are outside your control. The economy can also make a big impact, affecting the overall business climate as well  as the willingness of customers to continue services. Improving revenue and/or reducing costs could also mean targeting a specific problems, such as improving driver productivity, improving driver retention, lowering insurance costs, and improving route efficiency.

Overall, improving the bottom line is a balancing act where everyone needs to be kept happy as initiatives are put into place. You may want to reduce vehicle acquisition costs, for example, but you also need to purchase vehicles that your drivers will like to use. You also don’t want to invest in an initiative that doesn’t equate to savings, or recoup its investment fast enough.

Improve Your Carbon Footprint

The most effective way to improve your carbon footprint is to work on your fuel efficiency. That’s what Midwest retailer Meijer did, and credits its 60% carbon footprint reduction to fuel efficiency and the implementation of the EPA’s near-zero emission standards. Because of these efforts, Meijer is now the largest all-clean diesel fleet in North America.

Fuel efficiency isn’t the only way to improve your carbon footprint. If your fleet is growing over the next 12 months, then you can consider great fleet vehicle picks such as hybrid or electric vehicles as they would reduce your footprint. Your fleet could also start by coming up with metrics to measure your carbon footprint. You can’t improve what you can’t measure, and unlike safety and revenue, the carbon footprint doesn’t easily come with data and indicators to show you who well you’re doing.

Although there are many ways to meet these resolutions over the next 12 months, there is only one way that can accomplish all of them: nitrogen tire inflation. Putting nitrogen in your tires improves safety and compliance by keeping tires at proper pressure and tire for longer periods of time. This decreases the chances of a blowout. Having tires at proper tire pressure for longer periods of time improves your bottom line by reducing your fuel and maintenance costs. You’re no longer wasting gas and reducing tire life because your vehicles have under-inflated tires. Nitrogen tire inflation also improves your carbon footprint because there will be fewer tires in landfills and less gas used in the long run. All of that is great for the environment.

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5 Great Fleet Vehicle Picks

On December 19, 2013, in Fuel Efficiency, Managed Fleets, by allisonmreilly
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This is a guest post from Bob Carlson. Bob retired last year from a 40-year career teaching high school math. Blogging keeps him out of trouble with the wife.

For fleet operators looking to add vehicles to their fleet, the overall cost of maintaining and operating any size vehicle is a major consideration. Any decent fleet operator is always looking for ways to cut costs—for instance, some fleet owners are installing nitrogen-filled tires on their vehicles, thanks to their reliability under heavy use and their fuel-saving potential. The data analysis firm Vincentric recently held its annual Best Fleet Value awards, highlighting the top models for fleet operators based on a variety of factors, including operating and opportunity costs. Here are five notable vehicles that got a nod for great value in their respective categories:

Ford C-Max Energi SEL

Photo by Mariordo via Wikimedia Commons

The C-Max Energi is one of several hybrids on Vincentric’s list, but it’s the only plug-in hybrid that made the cut. The C-Max offers the lowest taxes and opportunity costs of all the current picks over the three-year ownership period, but offers higher-than-average fuel costs in its segment.

Ford F-150 XL Reg Cab 2WD

Photo by IFCAR via Flickr

The F-150 isn’t just a hit with consumers in search of a reliable and dependable truck. Fleet buyers also see the half-ton full-size pickup truck’s proven credentials in the field and elsewhere, as well as its lower-than-average insurance, maintenance and operating costs. The F-150 also offers a unique fuel-saving proposition in the form of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost six-cylinder engine, capable of achieving an EPA-estimated 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway in two-wheel drive guise. However, it remains to be seen how fleets will cope financially or time-wise with the engine’s added complexity. According to Ford, sales of the EcoBoost-equipped F-150 have already reached 400,000 units in the United States.

Nissan Leaf S

Photo by Tennen-Gas via Wikimedia Commons

According to data from Vincentric, the Leaf S offers better-than-average depreciation and extraordinarily low taxes due to federal and state incentives, but it’s on par with others in its segment in terms of fuel, maintenance and repair costs. The Leaf’s all-electric drivetrain also provides fleets with an economical way to shrink their carbon footprint and flex their eco-friendly credentials.

Buick Enclave Convenience FWD

Photo by IFCAR via Flickr

The Enclave is one of four Buicks that made the cut, taking top honors in the convenience four-door utility segment. Vincentric notes that Buick’s full-size crossover offered the lowest lifecycle costs in 15 of its 20 deciding criteria. Not only does it offer the lowest three-year ownership costs across the board, it also surprises many premium fleet owners with its exceptional level of luxury and comfort.

Hyundai Sonata GLS 2.4

Photo by IFCAR via Wikimedia Commons

For 2013, the Sonata proves itself as a competent choice in the mid-size sedan segment, especially in the face of strong competition from Ford and Toyota. As with last year’s Sonata, the 2013 model offers three-year fuel, depreciation and repair costs that are well-below segment averages.

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saving fuel managed fleetsThis is a guest post from Robert J. Hall,  president of Track Your Truck. Track Your Truck is a leader in GPS vehicle tracking systems and software for small and midsized companies.

Cars, trucks, and other modes of transportation are responsible for about 28 percent of all GHG (greenhouse gases) produced in the United States. With the emergence of the “Green Movement,” businesses are honing in on methods for controlling GHG emissions and tracking their fleets’ carbon footprint. Fuel cost reductions, government assistance, low road taxes, and a positive image all stand to be gained from a sustainable approach to fleet management, but mostly businesses are concerned with the state of our planet’s environment.

A greener planet is good for all of us; here’s how your fleet can be part of that.

GPS Fleet Tracking

Among many other benefits, a GPS fleet tracking system can significantly reduce fuel consumption, subsequently reducing your company’s carbon footprint. GPS fleet tracking consists of hardware on your vehicles and software for the management of your fleet from a computer. GPS fleet tracking systems offer an overhead view of many different aspects of your fleet.

GPS fleet tracking makes oversight into the activities, locations and fuel consumption of your drivers possible, allowing for the most efficient use of your equipment. Utilizing GPS fleet tracking allows you to bring down out-of-route miles, lower carbon dioxide emissions, and lower costs all around.

Oversight and management of your fleet this way typically reduces idle time, further reducing fuel consumption. GPS fleet tracking systems notify you when any of your drivers are idling for an excessive period of time so action can be taken. Additionally, GPS fleet tracking can provide you with speed alerts and reports. If one of your drivers is speeding, you will be alerted. In addition, the driver will automatically be reminded to slow down. This eliminates excessive fuel waste as a result of speeding and increases the efficiency with which your fleet operates.

Maintenance

You can save on fuel waste with regular maintenance to your vehicles. Making sure that your fleet is in top shape ensures that it is also running at its most efficient level. GPS fleet tracking systems can be utilized, making a maintenance schedule simple.

Regular oil changes, spark plug replacements and changing air filters can make your vehicles burn fuel more efficiently, requiring less fuel and ultimately reducing GHG emissions. Through integration, your GPS fleet tracking system can alert you when maintenance is needed, saving time and keeping your fleet running at its most optimal level. You’ll automatically know when filters or tires need replacing or other work needs to be done.

Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

Lastly, a move to electric or hybrid vehicles for your fleet is one scenario that should be considered. Don’t be deterred by the initial cost; moving to a hybrid or completely electric fleet has proven a high ROI thanks to overall fuel savings.

Moving to a hybrid or electric fleet is the ultimate sustainable approach to reducing your carbon footprint. Additional benefits include lower road taxes and the positive perception that comes with “going green” in the eyes of the public. The U.S. government also provides assistance to companies who are switching to alternative fuels, providing technical support and public recognition.

Not only are there tax breaks, assistance, and cost reductions to be gained when you move to sustainable fleet management; you are also reducing emissions and doing your part to improve Earth’s environment, a noble goal.

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5 Smartphone Apps to Make You a Better Driver

On September 19, 2013, in Guest Posts, Managed Fleets, by allisonmreilly
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apps for better drivingEvery day in the United States, nine people are killed because they are distracted by texting while driving. Car technology is growing more sophisticated, and the ability to merge mobile technology with auto technology is enabling safer driving. These are the top apps that save lives by helping drivers focus on driving:

Drive Safe.ly-Apps for New Drivers

Drive Safe.ly is an app created by State Farm auto insurance. It provides drivers with a safer way to stay in contact with their friends, family and even coworkers. The app was created because not everyone can resist the temptation of texting and driving. The app allows drivers to program the audio part of their phone to read text and emails out loud as texts or emails are received. The benefit of this app is that drivers are able to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the steering wheel. Everyone benefits when drivers are smarter about their actions.

Apps That Get You Where You Need to Be

Nokia Here Drive not only helps you find where you need to go, but also it helps to alert you when you are speeding. The device was designed to save people money by making maps that are downloadable, so users do not eat up data usage with GPS that may or not be working. Drivers can concentrate on driving rather than finding their way.

Apps That Entertain You

Spotify is a broad connection music app that not only works on your cell phone, but on your computer and other mobile devices. You can search songs and artists or Spotify can make suggestions for you. Drivers can focus on driving and stop searching for music on the radio, changing CDs or fussing with their MP3 player. They offer a free and premium membership.

Roadside Assistance

AAA Roadside app works with the roadside assistance features that come with carrying the AAA card. Dead battery, lockout or even a tow are all services that can be accessed through the app.

Texts for Parents of Teen Drivers

The Canary app is designed to alert parents when their teens are engaged in dangerous behaviors while driving. It alerts parents when calls are answered or teens are texting, using Facebook or tweeting while driving. The Canary app allows parents to set a maximum speed limit and then notifies the parent when the max speed is exceeded. This is an app that allows teens to learn responsibility while also allowing parents access to information can save teen drivers’ lives.

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nitrogen tire inflation programIncreased fuel efficiency, longer tire life, and increased safety are just some of the benefits of having a nitrogen tire program in your fleet. Recognizing the benefits isn’t always the most difficult part. The toughest aspect is implementing such a program and ensuring that your managed fleet actually gets to see these benefits. Here’s how to implement a nitrogen tire inflation program into your fleet:

Assess the Cost and Carbon Savings

Nitrogen tire inflation will benefit one vehicle as well as a hundred or a thousand, but if you have a small fleet, then it might take a long time for your managed fleet to recoup the cost of the equipment. One nitrogen tire system can run several thousand dollars, so it’s important to consider the initial cost and how long it will take your fleet to recover that cost. The cost and carbon savings are much more substantial for larger fleets, and the initiative to go green may also be an additional incentive. A good place to start to calculate these numbers, if you are considering a nitrogen tire inflation program, is to use our carbon reduction calculator to get an idea of what you would save.

Make Your Purchase

This is an obvious step, but the hardest part is figuring out how many machines or inflation carts you need. Although this will differ from provider to provider, our nitrogen tire system can fill up to six tires simultaneously. It takes about seven minutes to purge those tires of air and to refill them with nitrogen.The number of machines that you purchase will depend on how many vehicles you have in your fleet, as well as how many locations your fleet has to do regular maintenance. For example, you could have a fleet of 1000 , but if there are five maintenance locations for your fleet, then you might only need 10 or 15 machines to ensure that each maintenance location is adequately serviced.

Transition Your Vehicles

Once you have your machines, the next step is to transition all of your vehicles. You want to purge them of the regular air and refill the tires with nitrogen. This is the only way to get your program started right, and to be able to track certain metrics. Your results will be skewed if you start by only topping off your tires with nitrogen, as the benefits won’t be as noticeable.

Educate Your Drivers

One of the most crucial elements in implementing a nitrogen tire inflation program, and in doing it successfully, is educating your drivers and maintenance workers about nitrogen tire inflation. This is more than telling them why the company is doing this and what nitrogen is supposed to do to the vehicle. It’s also about educating them on the importance of proper tire care i.e. checking tire pressure regularly, how to check tire pressure, when to do it, and what’s considered proper tire pressure. This ensures that while the vehicle is on the road, the tires aren’t over- or under-inflated on accident, which puts the driver at risk for a flat or a blowout. Nitrogen won’t make much of a difference in driver safety if the tire is over-inflated in the first place.

Track Certain Metrics to Measure the Savings

Once you implement the program and get everyone involved, you ought to track certain metrics to measure your savings and to show that the initial expenses were justified. Some of the metrics that you want to track include fuel costs, number of blowouts per month, average tire pressure upon maintenance, number of tire retreads per month, and length of a tire retread. Of course, you will need to track these metrics over several months to be able to see the benefits and the difference nitrogen made to your fleet. It would help if you had some or all of these numbers prior to starting the program, so that you can compare the results, but that’s not always necessary.

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managed fleetAccording to a recent survey from GE Capital Fleet Services, driver safety surpassed cost-saving goals as the top concern among fleet managers. More than a third of U.S fleet managers cited this as their primary concern. However, this article did not go into detail of how to improve fleet or driver safety, or what these fleet managers are doing to address their top concern. We’re here to change that and to help managed fleets and their directors improve. Here are three effective ways you can improve the safety of your managed fleet:

Driver Training and Management, Particularly Young Drivers

To improve fleet safety, you not only need to train your drivers and encourage best practices, but you also need to recognize the unique risks and challenges that young drivers pose, especially inexperience. With managed fleets, young drivers may sometimes be driving vehicles that they don’t have a lot of experience handling, even if they may have a clean driving record and the right certifications. Worldwide, traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death for 15-24 year-olds, but a survey from the United Kingdom found that almost a quarter (23%) of respondents did not know what proportion of their vehicle collisions involved a young driver. What makes this statistic more troubling is that young drivers are 26% more likely to get into a crash than their older counterparts. Managed fleets that do not record and maintain this information are unable to assess and mitigate their risk.

Review/Implement a Driver Policy Checklist

The GE survey found that the number one concern is specifically driver safety, not just fleet safety. This means that improving driver and fleet safety isn’t just training and tracking risk, but ensuring that your drivers can always know what the policy is. That’s where a driver policy checklist can come in. Your driver policy can contain information on cell phone usage, traffic violations, safety guidelines, revocation of company car privileges etc. It’s meant to be a go-to source for all information relating to their use of a company vehicle, including ordering and maintenance. So that a driver policy is most effective, it needs to be somewhere readily available, such as in every vehicle and/or posted in the office. If you already have a driver policy in place, then it would be a good idea to review it and to make it more readily available for your drivers to refresh their memory.

GPS Fleet Tracking Technology

It’s tough to move in the right direction when you don’t have the data to indicate which direction is the right one. With GPS fleet tracking technology, you have the capability to do more than just know where your vehicles are located. You’re able to learn the driving habits of your employees, track who has a tendency to speed and who exhibits aggressive driving behavior. This information helps you to know which driving behaviors to target and what kind of safe driving policy you need to uphold. This not only mitigates risk, but it also educates drivers on these habits and protects them from non-commercial drivers who aren’t driving safe. Having the data and having the policies could also protect you and your managed fleet in case of an accident or a customer complaint.

Improving fleet safety is a matter of driver education, vehicle maintenance, and utilizing technology for data on what needs to be done. Improving fleet safety effectively involves knowing the loopholes in your managed fleet in your organization and taking action on those loopholes.

Related Links:

The Trucking Industry By the Numbers

Managed Fleets and Ending America’s Dependence on Foreign Oil

6 Reasons Why Nitrogen Tire Inflation is Great for Managed Fleets

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