Using the Right Data from Fleet Management Systems

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Some are called transportation management systems (TMS), and some fleet management systems (FMS), but they essentially do the same thing – deliver data to Fleet Managers and drivers. The point in delivering this information is, of course, to enable both parties to make better decisions. Decisions that are quicker, more accurate and ultimately lead to increased profitability.

Fleet Management System

What To Do With The Data
The question isn’t whether or not the TMS or FMS systems can deliver the data, but more so is it the right data and what is ultimately being done with it? Rather than simply telling drivers what they could do better, some companies are tying bonuses to hitting the right numbers.

Bonus Plans for Performance
Norman Thomas, vice president-operations for Carrier­Web, mentions that he now feels as though he has an opportunity to “view” the driver’s workday via contextual data. This includes being able to see when they are on time, where miles are wasted and how traffic impacts performance. “That information can then be utilized to effectively establish and manage [driver] performance or fuel-efficiency bonus plans.” Now, as one might imagine, this is a very powerful way to use that data.

Brent Nussbaum, CEO of truckload carrier Nussbaum Transportation, says his fleet uses data to award bonuses to his drivers as well. Information gathered by the company’s PeopleNet system allows him to create scorecards which he calls “Driver Excelerators” to track everything from out-of-route miles and on-time delivery arrivals to vehicle fuel economy and hard braking events. Drivers are paid bonuses of up to $1,800 per quarter if they hit the right numbers.

“We pull data from our trucks to assign points to drivers based on fuel economy, safety, and operational metrics—letting our driver managers use this data to coach, not correct, our drivers to reach the desired targets,” Nussbaum says. “And it’s not about using that data to show them how to do it better; it’s about why we need to do it better, too.”

Using Driver Scorecards
Fleets that use driver scorecards are seeing the most success when it comes to using the right data from fleet management systems. By breaking it down into a scoring system that the driver can understand, the fleets can focus on things that are within the driver’s control such as shifting, braking, etc. which impact something such as fuel efficiency.

Making Adjustments In Real Time
Another great way that Fleet Managers are using data is by making adjustments on the fly. For example, if a driver has hours available in a particular location and is going to be on-time or early with the delivery, another load can be scheduled by the dispatcher in the area as long as it’s within the hours of service. Previously, this type of information may not be available or may become available when it was already too late to schedule that additional load. The result is now increased productivity and a less likely loss of profitability from missed opportunities.

Setting Goals
The other key piece of using this data is the ability to set goals for your fleet. What are the mpg goals? How do you plan to break those goals down? Is it by fleet type or by specific customer? What are other quantifiable operational goals that can be set and measured?

These are all questions to consider and ones that may take some type of outside party to help you analyze. Yet, they are critical to the success of any type of using any type of data you get from a transportation management system and are definitely worth answering.

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*Photo from FleetOwner.com