With rising costs, longer lead times, and new technology arising every day, fleet managers must learn to adapt.
And those fleet managers who do adapt — by adopting new technology, revising their processes, and embracing change — are poised to benefit from the changing and growing fleet landscape.
Two fleets are prime examples of how making big changes, reducing costs while doing so, and freeing up valuable time to improve their operations in other ways.
Embracing Technology for Affordable Last-Mile Delivery
The Delivery Guys is a last-mile logistics operation based in San Francisco. The company operates about 50 vehicles, mostly Ford Transits, Ram ProMasters, and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter cargo vans.
Cargo vans in the fleet generally have 200-300 cubic feet of space, though some larger vehicles have up to 500 cubic feet of space.
Fleet vehicles travel all over the Bay Area and are stored in two central locations at night: a garage in South San Francisco and a garage in East Bay.
CEO Armen Gasanyan is no stranger to new technology. The Delivery Guys works with an autonomous vehicle company, and is testing one of these vehicles on its delivery routes. Last year, the company made the first-ever autonomous grocery delivery.
The company is using Driveroo, an AI-driven mobile app that allows drivers to report any vehicle damager or maintenance needed easily. Before the mobile app, Gasanyan managed his maintenance with a spreadsheet and a pen and paper. Now, everything is digital, with consistent documentation.
At the start of a driver’s shift, he or she walks around the vehicle, taking photos and answering questions according to the prompt on the Driveroo app. The driver can note any cracks in the windshield, flat tires, and any other issues on the vehicle.
At the end of the day, the dispatcher checks each vehicle, following the same prompt. With this system, the vehicle is checked regularly and in the same way every time, and as an added bonus it ensures the drives return all equipment at the end of the day.
The Driveroo app uses machine learning to determine the likelihood of specific maintenance issues based on the type of vehicle and its specific history. It offers users access to a network of local auto shops to provide any necessary inspections, maintenance, and repairs as needed.
“I believe that by automating a lot of these tasks we can have the ability to deliver at a much cheaper price, and that’s what everyone’s striving to right now in the game of ecommerce. All the consumers, they want free delivery, Amazon’s proving that,” explained Gasanyan. “By automating a lot of these tasks and by making use of this technology, we can definitely get there.”
The Delivery Guys is constantly working to test new programs and improve its fleet maintenance processes. A maintenance vendor recently added a night-shift mechanic and offered to maintain vehicles at night, when vehicles are out of service, during a six-month pilot period.
Managing Service Vehicles Across the Country on One System
MaintenX is one of the largest national facility maintenance and repair providers in the U.S. Based in Tampa, Fla., the company offers its services in 13 states, and maintains one of the largest networks of subcontrators in the country.
To meet customer needs, the company owns a fleet of about 200 vehicles, including about 125 cargo vans. Vans are upfitted with one of several standardized packages according to the vocation of the crew using it — such as plumbers, HVAC, or electricians. The company also has a roofing division, which has its own vocational needs and vehicle specs.
Vehicles are generally kept at the technicians’ homes, and spread all over the East Coast, so maintenance is outsourced to the nearest Pep Boys, Valvoline, Monro, or the dealer if the vehicle is still under warranty.
Some maintenance is done in-house, but that is limited to small repairs needed on out-of-warranty vehicles.
The company’s fleet manager, Dan Fish, has been with the company for about a year, taking over the management of a fleet that never had a dedicated fleet manager.
Coming into the position, one of his main concerns was the lack of proper reporting for fleet activities. MaintenX adopted Fleetio, a fleet management software, and is benefiting from the company’s shop integration tool.
Shop integration, which was launched at the end of 2018, gives users access to 30,000 maintenance shops around the country, with exclusive fleet discounts and special offers for Fleetio customers.
Fleet managers can view, manage, and approve repairs all on Fleetio’s system. Fish noted that there was an initial spike in costs when he first adopted the system, but has since seen a 15% decrease in maintenance costs.
Before Fish joined MaintenX, the company had a flat policy, assuming that every vehicle traveled 5,000 miles a month and requiring all vehicles come in for service following that timeline. It didn’t work for everyone — some would travel up to 12,000 miles in a month, others would only travel 2,000 miles a month, leading many vehicles to be underserviced or overserviced.
Now, the company has adopted new oil change intervals, turning on notifications for when vehicles are due for service, and using oil-life monitors.
Technicians are taught to plan to bring in their vehicles for maintenance once the oil life reaches 30% and schedule a maintenance service once it reaches 10%.
Making the maintenance process easier was just step one for Fish. With his new processes in place, he was able to go in and create policies for procurement, fuel, and other aspects of fleet management that were previously overlooked.