How to Optimize Routes for Your Fleet Vehicles

Managing your fleet well depends on a lot of variables, so an optimized route is one that makes sense of these dependent variables and mitigates their impact.
This is crucial because managing this impact is the key to improving efficiency and generating a better ROI over time.

What is Route Optimization?

First, let’s define exactly what we mean by route optimization. Simply put, route optimization is a process. We want to figure out the most efficient route for our fleet vehicles. That means knowing the number of stops as well as the other variables that impact the route.

Route Optimization is Dynamic

Because of the mix of independent and dependent variables, any robust route optimization solution for fleets must be dynamic.
Consider for a moment all the potential variables that could impact a route and delivery schedule:
• Traffic patterns
• Detours
• Time between refueling
• Vehicle health
• Changes in customer’s expectations
• Driver performance
• Cross-vehicle coordination

Calculating the optimal route is best determined by GPS-enabled fleet management software that can weigh all these variables simultaneously and quickly communicate updates across your fleet. Doing this manually is both antiquated and an inefficient use of resources which opens up your operations to unnecessary risk.

What Are the Benefits of Route Optimization for Fleets?

A few of the most obvious benefits of route optimization would be fuel cost savings, meeting customer expectations more easily, improved vehicle longevity and safer drivers. And all of these benefits have a major impact on your bottom line — this is all about return on investment (ROI).

The ROI of Route Optimization & Fleet Management Software

Managing your routes, fleet vehicles and drivers is the most direct way to improve operational excellence. The key areas of impact are fuel cost savings, maintenance savings, operational savings and compliance savings. Here is a useful formula for calculating ROI.

Fuel Cost Savings

With national average gas prices in 2021, fuel savings is an important consideration for every fleet manager. Determining and executing the optimal routes for your drivers will save significant time and money.

Vehicle & Driver Safety Monitoring

Route optimization solutions that leverage ELD hardware and telematics solutions have other benefits beyond faster routes and fuel savings. Having a better way to collect data about vehicle health allows you to plan for maintenance, save on maintenance costs and plan for vehicle downtime.

The other key benefit here is being able to ensure driver safety and accountability. This can help save on insurance costs, cut down on driver fatigue and alert you when there’s an issue.

Improved Customer Experience

All of these advantages impact the end-user, as well — your customers. As supply chains become leaner and tighter, people across the globe are growing to expect the expediency and convenience ushered-in by Amazon. By optimizing routes, minimizing time-to-deliver and giving better time-estimates to your customers on ETA, you will create a pattern of reliability and expediency that your customers both expect and appreciate.

GPS Trackit provides many fleet management options including GPS-enabled route optimization software to help improve your fleet performance. To find a system that best suits your needs, speak to a fleet advisor.

Rising Gas Prices: How Fleet Management Can Help

The cost of gas is the highest it’s been since the start of the pandemic. It. Demand for gasoline decreased last spring as travel slowed while people quarantined at home. And gas prices dropped 27 cents from 2019. But pump prices have steadily risen as the crisis has continued. By the end of 2020, it reached $2.31, according to the AAA. In January 2021, diesel averaged $2.63 across the country.

Gas demand is now at the lowest level recorded by the Energy Information Administration since May 2020. Still, even with such low demand, pump prices continue to increase.

States with the most expensive gas include West Virginia, New Mexico, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, North Carolina, Missouri, and Ohio.

According to the AAA, gas prices are on the rise because crude oil has become more expensive and supply has tightened. But, the market remains optimistic that coronavirus vaccines will help recover crude demand in 2021.

Of course, fuel costs impact a fleet manager’s bottom line.

Fleet Management Tools Can Save Your Business Gas Money

Two major factors comprise a company’s bottom line: operating costs and fixed costs. Fuel is the second-largest expense a fleet owner faces, after vehicle depreciation. Fuel represents about 60% of a fleet operating budget. Managing this expense is crucial to maintaining a budget and turning a profit.

Because shipping continued to be in high demand during the pandemic, fuel costs were a significant concern for fleets.

Fleet managers remain focused on opportunities to increase fuel and engine efficiency and decrease overall spending.

One way to lower fuel costs is to invest in energy-efficient vehicles. Another way is to use GPS tracking tools and vehicle monitors.

Using GPS tracking tools and vehicle monitors, you can cut fuel costs by choosing faster routes, and reducing idle time, vehicle speed, and harsh stops. You can also monitor driver behavior and identify potential maintenance issues to minimize the risk of breakdowns. More ways to boost your bottom line.

A comprehensive telematics system can significantly improve your vehicles and your costs.

Fuel Cards Provide Multiple Benefits

Every time drivers hit the road, their choices affect fuel costs. In addition to miles driven, drivers can shop mindfully for cheaper gasoline in a competitive market. If fleet managers direct their drivers toward cheaper fueling stations, emphasize keeping fill-up costs low, and track pricing, they can save money.

Fleet fuel cards also help businesses reduce costs. They also make it easier to track transactions and understand how much is being spent. Businesses can monitor which fuel grades drivers choose, and the number of gallons they pump. And they can integrate that data with their GPS tracking tools. Fuel card programs can ensure your drivers use specifically branded filling stations, provide discounts, prevent fraud, and regulate expenses.

Rejuvenating Your Fleet

If you eliminate older, higher-mileage vehicles from your fleet, you can improve your fleet’s fuel economy. Sure, this would require a significant up-front expense. But ultimately it would help your bottom line.

Fuel-efficient vehicles can significantly improve how much you spend on gasoline and help reduce your impact on the environment.

Selecting the right vehicles and the right technology for your business is essential to saving money — especially fuel costs.

GPS Trackit provides many fleet management options to help your business improve its fuel efficiency, and help you monitor vehicles and driver activity. To find a system that best suits your business, speak to a fleet advisor.

The History of Telematics and Fleet Management

Industries throughout the world heard from the 1970s forward that computers would revolutionize the world. By the 1980s, computers made their way into our business offices, our living rooms and school systems, available to more people than ever before, and the emergence of the Internet and the World Wide Web in the 1990s changed how we live our lives and conduct business forever.
Within the shipping business, technology like video telematics has evolved to transform the way vehicles are tracked throughout the world.

The Beginning of Telematics

The definition of telematics broadly involves the use of computers and telecommunications as a means of transmitting information, and the term was coined in 1978 to explain the coming computerization of society.
But in business, the term telematics has come to refer to vehicle tracking systems included in the automation of automobiles and commercial vehicles as that technology has developed to prompt safer driving and improved communication while traveling.
The broad uses of telematics and GPS technology can involve GPS navigation tools, GPS tracking, integrated hands-free cellular devices, wireless communication, and automatic driving assistance systems.

Creating Industry Standards in Fleet Management

The uses of telematics in fleet management have been standardized within the shipping industry since 2010 by the Association of Equipment Management Professionals, who worked with Caterpillar, Volvo, John Deere, and other industry leaders to define best practices in shipping and fleet management.
The AEMP monitored key data, such as operating hours, fuel, and the mileage traveled to determine industry standards. Through that, they developed easier ways to access and communicate data within the industry.
As a result, the trucking industry has evolved from weigh stations, handwritten reports and CB radios to faster, safer ways to monitor vehicles, communicate immediate issues, and track shipping throughout the nation and the world.

How Telematics Are Used In Fleet Management

Video telematics are valuable tools that can keep your fleet management business and your drivers safer while they travel. The AEMP continues to determine industry standards for the technology.

Video Telematics and Surveillance

GPS integrated dash cameras installed on every vehicle in your fleet can serve multiple purposes, providing you with risk protection in the event of an accident, giving you alerts to any emergency, and giving you eyes on the progress your team is making.

GPS Tracking and Fleet Management

Technology will now alert you to when your shipments arrive, when your trucks reach a certain checkpoint, how quickly your drivers are moving, and more. This can improve driver accountability as well, assuring that your team is operating efficiently and safely.

Temperature Monitoring and More

Information gathered through telematics can alert you to vehicle maintenance issues, including the temperatures inside your refrigerated trailers so that you know the quality of the goods you are shipping and can provide that assurance to your customers. Additionally, it will allow you the chance to keep safe vehicles on the road, saving extensive repair costs.
The future of telematics is evolving, but the technology will continue to revolutionize the industry, creating safer and efficient ways to conduct fleet management. Looking for some guidance or answers about what to implement next with your fleet? Speak to a Fleet Advisor to learn more.

The Experts Weigh In: 2021 Trucking Trends

What trucking industry trends can we expect to see from a new year and a new administration at the helm of the U.S. government? What sort of legislation can we expect in a post-Trump America?

Pandemic in review: What is the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the trucking industry?

COVID-19 ushered in a way of changes across the trucking industry, namely the updates to HOS regulations. But with the continued pandemic and a regime change in the White House, we’ll likely see more changes from the FMCSA and Washington.

Warren Hoemann, consultant and former FMCSA deputy administrator spoke on a recent podcast commenting on some of the FMCSA’s delays in policy and offering a few predictions:

• Real ID has been delayed to October 1, 2021. This was to be implemented by 10/1/2020 but the pandemic has pushed this rollout back.
• Entry-level driving training has been delayed until February 7, 2022
• There has been no decision on CSA (Compliance, Safety, and Accountability) or updates on IRT (Item Response Theory)
• We could see the resurrection of speed limiters/governors for commercial vehicles as more data is released about the problem of commercial and domestic driver offenses for speeding spiked in 2020.
• The Under 21 Interstate Driver Pilot Program could come under scrutiny as it has been resisted by organized labor and saftey groups.
• It’s possible that we could see changes to legislation governing driver pay.

In terms of vehicle safety measures, could we see a requirement for side underride guards? The FMCSA and lawmakers must weigh the costs and benefits of such a decision. Currently mandatory in Canada, these guards would have a measurable impact on fuel economy and vehicle emissions by adding weight to trucks. We could also see hikes to insurance requirements for minimum coverage of non-hazardous cargo.

What does the “next normal” look like?

Will 2021 be the year of the electric truck?
Elon Musk boasts Tesla’s readiness to scale production of its electric trucks, yet battery cells are a major roadblock to speed. So widespread electric trucking? It’s likely going to be a while.
And when it comes to autonomous fleets, we’ve still got a long way to go from a societal perspective and a technological perspective. We can start expecting to see iterative autonomous upgrades to new vehicles like AI-powered transmissions that can improve fuel economy says NDT executive editor Dave Cullen in a recent podcast interview.

How will the Biden administration & government politics influence the trucking industry?

There has been a lot of speculation about what a “green” agenda under the Biden administration could look like. While we’re waiting to see what legislation and initiatives are proposed, here’s a quick overview of what Biden’s platform includes. Biden’s agenda seeks to:
• Spend 50 billion in the first year to embark on existing infrastructure improvements on roads, highways and bridges
• Creating a national EV charging network
• Upgrading the U.S. electric grid
• Building a national high-speed rail system

Under the Trump administration, policies governing the trucking industry used terminology such as “safety and health neutral.” Given Biden’s attitude, we’re likely to see something along the lines of “a positive and proactive stance on safety and driver health,” a diversion from Trump’s laissez-faire attitude toward regulations on business.

Updates from the FMCSA

FMCSA created a 25-member driver panel consisting of commercial vehicle drivers (CMV) sourced from across the industry to bring the voice of the driver into the conversation about safety. The panel is part of the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC). As of February 1, 2021, no meetings have been scheduled and no actions have been taken by the panel.

Fleet management in 2021

There’s no doubt that, with coming changes that will affect the trucking industry and ever-evolving technology that pushes business forward, fleet managers will be tasked with integrating every new piece of hardware, legislation, and compliance requirement into their operations. So having a fleet management solution that you can count on has never been more valuable.
GPS Trackit provides many fleet management options to help improve your business while complying with federal and state laws. To find a system that best suits your business, speak to a fleet advisor.