There is always a variety of solutions for work truck fleets. There isn’t one set of challenges and related solutions that will solve everyone’s problems immediately. Sorry!
But where there is always a difference or an outlier, there are also many similarities across work truck fleet challenges.
“Some advice will vary depending on the makeup and application of a fleet, but universally the top three things that take the most time are: operational cost control, vehicle/driver compliance, and acquisition and disposal strategies,” said Dustin Sageman, corporate business development manager at Enterprise Fleet Management. “It takes a lot of time to ensure systems and processes are in place to prevent operational inefficiencies and the inevitable driver downtime that results from not keeping those pieces under control.”
The Top 13 Work Truck Fleet Productivity Challenges
The following are 13 challenges vocational work truck fleet managers face in trying to stay productive:
Procurement is one current issue.
“OEMs are placing fleets large and small on allocation. Smaller fleets that rely on dealers vs. direct relationships with OEMs are even more impacted because they depend on dealer allocation. Fleets are experiencing increased downtime due to the increasing fleet age. Fleet managers are also dealing with parts shortages due to supply chain challenges and labor shortages with maintenance technicians,” said Jeff Jackson, executive vice president operations of dedicated contract carriage for Penske Logistics.
2. Vehicle & Cost Management
Understanding the costs related to fleet management and how they can change is also a time-consuming challenge.
“Vehicle management includes tracking vehicle location, asset utilization, and route planning,” said Lee Brodeur, vice president of lease operations and contract services for Mack Trucks. “Cost management is balancing fuel, repair, and driver costs.”
Another challenge is staffing.
“There are challenges due to turnover, additional training, and service disruptions due to various supply chain challenges. There are also warehouse delays due to labor shortages,” said Jackson of Penske Logistics.
“Dealing with driver turnover and route optimization daily is taking up much of fleet managers’ time. Driver demand is high, and continuing to keep drivers operating behind your truck comes with challenges,” he said.
And with staffing and people management, scheduling is always a challenge.
“From a service manager standpoint, it would be scheduling trucks and other fleet assets for maintenance,” said Willie Reeves, director of maintenance for PacLease.
5. Fuel Prices
Work trucks can’t accomplish their jobs without fuel, which is an expensive and constantly fluctuating fleet cost.
“It is necessary to have systems and programs in place for drivers to buy within a shipper’s defined program without deviation. Also, having adequate fuel surcharges in place,” said Jackson of Penske Logistics.
6. Maintenance: Repair or Replace?
Should fleets repair or replace?
“It should seem like an easy choice comparing the useful life of the asset in question against the parts costs and the status of your on-order units, but this is a continually moving target. The parts market continues to experience long lead times for key components, which forces fleet managers to spend time searching for alternative solutions,” said Orozco of Wheels Donlen LeasePlan. “Replacing a vehicle can be even more time-consuming. Most OEMs are still experiencing large backorders due to supply chain constraints, which force fleet managers to spend their days searching for dealer stock inventory.”
7. Administrative Tasks
Among the most time-consuming tasks in a typical fleet manager’s day are the daily administrative tasks.
“This is typically transaction management: processing invoices, renewing fuel cards, status updates, licensing, and compliance issues, etc. All that adds little to no value to your fleet’s operation but is necessary to keep vehicles moving,” said Trip O’Neil, vice president, strategic services for Holman.
Regulations change yearly, and ensuring your fleet complies with new and updated regulations is challenging.
“As for compliance, the more spread out a fleet, the more time-consuming it is to manage license and title but also driver-related requirements like DOT or insurance specifics,” said Sageman of Enterprise Fleet Management.
9. Driver Communication
Ensuring that you have clear lines of communication with drivers is a challenge.
“For light- to medium-duty fleets, I believe that most of a fleet manager’s time is drained by communication with drivers, tracking maintenance and title/licensing, and dealing with requests from internal leadership about vehicle availability,” said David Bieber, director of strategic markets at Mike Albert Fleet Solutions.
Clear and proper communication takes time and effort.
“Communication with drivers is extremely time-consuming —whether the manager is having to work hands-on with their drivers or just manage the ongoing communication about operations, maintenance, compliance, etc.,” said Joe Matukonis, business development at Mike Albert Fleet Solutions.
Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.
“Another area that typically consumes significant time is navigating cumbersome reporting. We often see fleet managers overwhelmed as they try to make sense of highly detailed, cumbersome reporting,” said O’Neil of Holman.
11. Fleet Maintenance Program Management
Maintenance is vital to keep vehicles running efficiently, but time in the shop is time not on the road.
“Managing a fleet’s maintenance program is another extremely time-consuming area,” said O’Neil of Holman.
Why is truck fleet maintenance so time-consuming?
“Maintenance involves scheduling regular service work, monitoring, arranging recall work, and overseeing accident repairs,” said Sageman of Enterprise Fleet Management.
But it’s crucial.
“Maintenance management is ensuring vehicles are optimally maintained to reduce downtime said Brodeur of Mack Trucks.
12. Ongoing Industry Change
The automotive industry is evolving at a rapid pace.
“It can take considerable time to stay on top of ever-changing production timelines, make/model availability, and allocation restrictions, as well as all the new technology that is hitting the marketplace in both the near and distant future,” said Sageman of Enterprise Fleet Management.
13. Vehicle Availability
Recently, according to Joe Matukonis of Mike Albert Fleet Solutions, more fleet managers have had to deal with requests from internal leadership about the need for vehicles and the cost of acquiring them.
“In today’s environment, everyone needs trucks and vans, and most fleets need to start replacing what they have, but they aren’t available. I think many fleet managers are feeling the pressure from leadership to find alternatives,” Matukonis said.
Tackling all these challenges is no easy task. Luckily we also have our top 11 tips for maximizing productivity for vocational work truck fleet managers. To stay up-to-date on the news and announcements that matter to your fleet, be sure to register today for Bobit Connect!