Fleet management freedom fighting
Many commentators have said that the effects of today’s tough economy on the transport industry are, at best, as bad as the 2008/9 recession. We find out what fleet managers can do to ease the road ahead
Without doubt, the complex nature and fast pace of business today is forcing many business leaders to reinvent their traditional approach and strategies – especially where supply chains are concerned … Smart companies are recognising that the supply chain can no longer be viewed as a separate function: the management of supply chains should be integral to the core business vision and overall strategy.
This is one of the key insights to come out of the 13th annual Barloworld Logistics supplychainforesight programme, released this year, which explores how South African companies have adapted to changing conditions over the past years.
Respondents also underscored that a strong focus on the diverse range of supply chain factors is delivering significant value to their companies. As the report points out: “Universally, the alignment of supply chain strategies with business strategy has become more critical and is delivering very positive results for South African businesses. The integration of customers into the supply chain is recognised as an approach that delivers improved customer-centricity, enabling improved performance and satisfaction levels.”
Fleet managers are also fighting the good fight in a myriad of ways … One such combatant, Super Star Forwarders (SSF), has been in the transport and logistics business for over 30 years. The company provides customised transport solutions for multinational corporations, such as the two oil companies Shell and Puma Energy. It is also a regional transport-logistics solutions provider for the Total Group of companies across east and central Africa.
With customer service and stringent health, safety and environmental policies as key priorities, SSF understood the importance of implementing a reliable fleet-management solution in order to maintain a leading position in the region.
This is where MiX Telematics – a global provider of fleet and mobile asset management, safety and vehicle-tracking solutions – came in over a decade ago. SSF was introduced to MiX through its Tanzania channel partner Superdoll.
Within three years of implementation, SSF’s accident rate had been reduced by 50 percent. In addition, zero night-time accidents have been reported over the past eight years.
“A safer fleet meant we became the first choice for our customers,” says Pradeep Kumaar, head of commercial and operations at SSF. “This solution enabled us to gain our customers’ trust, as they were reassured that their cargo was in safe hands.”
The MiX solution also enabled SSF to improve its fleet utilisation by 30 percent after three years, while fuel costs were reduced by 15 percent within the same timeframe.
From early on, SSF realised a need to engage its drivers in the process of adopting the new technology. Toolbox sessions and educational workshops were held, which proved highly effective in curbing initial resistance and instances of system tampering.
Drivers can also add to the economic fighting arsenal in other ways as Telogis – a global, cloud-based, mobile enterprise-management software company, based in Aliso Viejo, California – points out in its blog post: Top ten ways fleet drivers can use less fuel.
Here are a few tips for drivers that can be used as part of a driver education programme to minimise fuel use:
“Monitor traffic ahead to minimise gear changes: By keeping an eye on upcoming traffic conditions, drivers can anticipate having to slow down. It is more efficient to keep the truck moving slowly than to start from a complete stop. It also reduces the number of gear changes you need to make.
“Use your momentum: The momentum your vehicle collects on the flat can be used to get over hills more economically. In some cases, momentum can be used to roll to a stop at traffic lights as well.
“Avoid overfilling: If a tank is filled to the brim it can easily overflow when the fuel is heated, either by the sun or fuel returned by the engine.
“Be ready for an easy departure in the morning: If you’re stopping for the night, park your truck so that you will not have to do a lot of manoeuvring in the morning with a cold engine, as this can use a lot of fuel.”
The little things can truly make a huge difference as drivers, fleet managers, and the industry as a whole can work smarter, not just harder, to ease tough economic times …