Small fleets can use tech to gain a significant competitive edge. - Photo: Work Truck

Small fleets can use tech to gain a significant competitive edge.

Photo: Work Truck

Armed with abundant resources, cutting-edge technologies, and extensive expertise, large truck fleets such as FedEx have gained a significant competitive edge.

On the other hand, smaller truck fleets face unique challenges and might lag behind in the race due to limited resources. However, gaining valuable insights into how larger fleets streamline operations can allow them to foster growth. Here are three key takeaways.

AI Fuels Efficiency

UPS saved around $300 million a year thanks to using AI (artificial intelligence) in its fleet management system

AI can enhance overall fleet efficiency and lead to financial savings because it can help analyze real-time data, including traffic conditions, road closures, and weather forecasts. This allows businesses to calculate the most efficient routes for each truck, reducing unnecessary detours and minimizing travel time. 

Additionally, when an AI system detects potential disruptions — an approaching storm or a congested road — it can generate real-time alerts for truck drivers while offering alternative routes. Consequently, companies can avoid delays and keep the fleet running smoothly.

Predictive Maintenance Reduces Costs

According to a McKinsey report, implementing AI-enhanced predictive maintenance for industrial equipment can result in significant cost savings. Companies can expect a 10% reduction in annual maintenance expenses, up to a 20% decrease in downtime, and a remarkable 25% cut in inspection costs.

Predictive maintenance similarly impacts truck fleets, enabling companies to analyze vehicle performance data and identify potential maintenance issues before they escalate. Therefore, this approach can reduce vehicle downtime and extend the fleet's lifespan.

What’s more, thanks to predictive maintenance, companies can avoid last-minute emergency repairs that often come with premium service costs. Instead, fleet managers can schedule repairs in advance at more reasonable rates. 

Data Analytics Can Improve Driver Safety

Multinational corporations, like Sysco, collect data from monitoring systems to identify specific safety events, such as near-collisions or hard-braking incidents, and patterns of risky driving behavior. 

Analyzing this data allows fleet managers to understand common safety challenges and design targeted coaching and training programs for drivers who need improvement in specific safety areas.

These customized training initiatives play an important role in strengthening drivers' skills, effectively reducing the likelihood of accidents. Given that small fleets often have limited resources compared to larger ones, using target training strategies also enables companies to invest in areas that will yield the greatest impact on safety.

Large fleets have a competitive advantage in the market as they can access resources and technologies that optimize business performance. But this doesn’t mean that smaller fleets are left without opportunities.

In fact, emerging companies can capitalize on their potential for growth and success by following in the footsteps of their larger counterparts and learning from their best practices. This way, they can improve fuel efficiency, reduce costs, and prioritize safety.

About the Author: Sunil Kardam is the Head of Supply Chain and Logistics at Gramener at Gramener. Gramener is a design-led data science company that helps solve complex business problems with compelling data stories using insights and a low-code analytics platform. This article was authored and edited according to WT editorial standards and style. Opinions expressed may not reflect that of WT.