Comment: How to leverage driver data to meet efficiency & sustainability goals
Rushil Goel, VP and GM of fleet management at Samsara, on how monitoring simple fleet metrics could deliver major operational efficiencies.
Fleets across Europe are adjusting their operations to meet changes set in motion by the current economic climate. This industry-wide response to shifting levels of demand highlights a greater need for efficiency. For some fleets, this means extending the longevity of their assets or finding ways to reduce wear and tear, while for others it means getting more mileage out of less fuel. Either way, the goals are the same: get the most value out of what you already have and find ways to reduce costs.
To accomplish this, fleet managers are turning to predictive analytics or data that can help better anticipate future events or trends.
But what exactly can this type of data uncover and how do you make sure it’s actionable for your fleet? It might not be as complicated as you think.
Monitoring straightforward metrics on the driver-level can be a key source of data that impacts your operations. The day-to-day experiences of a driver on the road can hold critical hidden data points that can provide a lot of value for a fleet—both in terms of immediate optimisations and long-term efficiencies.
In fact, monitoring simple driver habits like acceleration, deceleration, coasting, cruising, and more can have a major impact on your overall operations, your bottom line, and your fuel efficiency. These driving habits, though seemingly inconsequential, can in aggregate have a significant impact on fuel expenses, mechanical repairs, vehicle lifespan and environmental impact.
By collecting the right data from your connected vehicles, you can gain insights that might otherwise be difficult or impossible to uncover. This is significant, too, since operational changes based on this data can be much more impactful than those made on inferred assumptions. Read on to learn how your fleet can use telematics to identify, collect, and act on key driver data points.
Unlocking driver data that moves the needle
While you may understand the importance of tracking driver data, you simply might not know where to start. What are the most important factors impacting your larger operations? How do you assess the value of those metrics and use that information to enact beneficial changes across your fleet?
Drivers play a huge part in the performance of the vehicles they’re driving. Tracking driver behaviour can help you quickly identify the biggest opportunity for cost-savings. While each fleet has different priorities, there are simple driving techniques that can decrease the wear and tear on your vehicles to reduce fuel consumption and promote sustainability:
- Maintain a steady speed: When a driver’s speed suddenly increases or decreases, the vehicle can consume up to 20% more fuel. But beyond increased fuel spend, maintaining a consistent speed (at the minimal throttle and with the transmission in the highest gear) will keep your vehicles on the road longer and in the shop less. Optimal speed varies by vehicle type, but is typically somewhere between 35 mph (56 km/h) and 50 mph (80 km/h).
- Engage cruise control: When used in the right conditions, cruise control can help maintain speed. When a driver is in cruise control, the accelerator is disengaged which is ideal for certain types of driving that require a steady speed—like when a driver is on the freeway. But, it’s important to not over-rely on cruise control. It can actually be worse for your vehicle when there’s heavy traffic, winding roads, or icy conditions.
- Anticipate coasting: Each time a driver uses the brakes, they lose forward momentum. But by anticipating traffic, pedestrians, and traffic lights, drivers can determine when it’s time to slow down—well in advance. Minimizing acceleration and braking while maximizing coasting reduces friction on the engine, saving on gas and repairs and adding to your vehicle’s lifespan.
- Reduce unproductive idling: When a driver keeps an engine running, they add more wear on the vehicle and increase overall cost per mile. While it’s necessary for certain types of vehicles to idle in moderation, like while they’re in power take-off mode, fleets can save heavily on fuel costs by minimising unnecessary idle time.
- Stay in the green band: When a vehicle stays in the most efficient RPM—also known as the green band—the engine works less hard. If your driver is operating at a higher RPM, your vehicle will burn fuel faster and the engine can more easily incur damages that can lead to costly maintenance repairs. To stay in the fuel-efficient green band, keep your vehicle between 1,500 to 2,000 RPM.
By following and tracking the results of these driving habits with the help of an advanced telematics provider, you can make vehicle efficiency and sustainability a competitive advantage for your fleet. Plus, by helping your drivers better understand expectations, you can shift behaviours to create a lasting impact on your fleet-wide efficiency goals and cost savings. Improving driving habits are also a relatively low-cost and quick measure to reduce fuel consumption, emissions and carbon footprints significantly. Through regular coaching or an awards programme, you can align driver incentives with best practices and make efficient driving a priority. This can ultimately help you save money, reduce downtime and get more out of your assets, while also creating a greener fleet.