Using telematics, service fleets can leverage data to reduce the fuel spend of problematic vehicles. 
 - Photo courtesy of ServiceMaster Restore. 

Using telematics, service fleets can leverage data to reduce the fuel spend of problematic vehicles. 

Photo courtesy of ServiceMaster Restore. 

Small fleets may not always see telematics as a priority. With smaller margins the cost of the service may seem prohibitive, but even smaller fleets can yield strong results. A fleet operations manager with a fleet comprised of nearly 50 vehicles realized higher average fuel mileage and lower cost per mile by implementing telematics into his fleet. 

One of the first things that Reggie Eubanks, fleet operations manager for ServiceMaster Restore, did when he joined the company in July was develop a six-month plan to revitalize his new company’s fleet.

This plan would involve integrating new software to manage the fleet, implementing telematics software, and auditing the company’s fleet.

The company’s fleet, he learned, was comprised of over 40 vehicles with 10 or 20 vehicles that would require more repairs than they were worth to continue to operate. A few had literally been run until their wheels had fallen off, he said.

One of the first things the company did after he joined was scrap the vehicles that had outlived their usefulness.

The common theme among the vehicles that remained was high mileage. Nearly all of the vehicles that the company would still use had over 200,000 miles clocked on their odometers.

Identifying Fuel Guzzlers Using Telematics

Eubanks decided to work with a new telematics vendor for his plan.

The first step of his new plan — and one that would consume the first 45 days of his new position — would be adding fleet vehicle data into the telematics vendor's software.

By doing this, ServiceMaster Restore would have a proper database of its vehicles and the maintenance performed on these vehicles going forward.

Once this step was completed, he moved on to the next step: using the data from the newly instated software to learn how the fleet operated. Telematics and fuel card integrations aided in this task. One thing he began to learn as he looked over this data, was that not all vehicles, even similar ones, had the same cost per mile.  

This was first illustrated through two diesel trucks in his fleet that were operated by two different drivers, Eubanks said.

Thanks to the fuel card integration in his new software, Eubanks found that one of his drivers was averaging 19 miles per gallon on his daily routes. Another driver, operating on a similar route was averaging 14 mpg on similar routes. He reviewed his data to see the discrepancies between the two of them.

What he found was that the one with worse fuel economy was also habitually setting off excessive speed alerts that he had set up through the telematics integration on his new software Eubanks had previously set up speed alerts that would alert him whenever one of his drivers exceeds a certain speed limit, and the driver averaging 14 mpg was routinely setting those alerts off.

Eubanks addressed this with the driver and saw noticeable results within two weeks. The driver’s average fuel economy improved from 14 mpg to 21 mpg. Eubanks calculated that if this sort of improvement was replicated throughout his fleet, he would save nearly enough money to buy a new truck.

“I was able to tell him more than ‘I see you’re driving too fast,” said Eubanks. “I was able to say ‘I noticed speed violations, and I noticed that another driver in a similar truck to yours is averaging nearly 19 mpg while you’re getting 14 mpg.’ Now he’s getting better mpg than the other guy and he’s no longer setting off my excessive speed alerts.”

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