Operating a commercial truck costs on average $1.59 per mile, according to the American Transportation Research Institute, so cost-per-mile is a large and compelling budget target. Companies that can shave even a cent or two per mile can realize substantial savings.

As the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate drives more mobile devices into truck cabs, this new fleet technology promises fresh opportunities to reduce those costs. While tracking hours of service to meet FCSMA regulations, ELDs double as powerful tools that can reduce costs and improve service. Mobile devices such as the Samsung Tab Active2 provide a platform for route optimization and vehicle monitoring apps that reduce transportation costs and boost fleet utilization.

ELDs automatically record driving times and monitor engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven and location information. With in-cab devices, fleet managers can take advantage of engine-connected telematics solutions to improve asset visibility, driver safety and fuel efficiency.

IT Solutions for Fleets

Trucking is an industry made up predominantly of small businesses, with more than 97 percent of trucking companies operating 20 trucks or fewer, according to the American Trucking Associations. The ELD mandate has driven many small fleets to adopt telematics and other transportation IT solutions that they might otherwise have overlooked or avoided due to cost. These smaller fleets often rely on manual and otherwise inefficient practices, but their new in-cab devices open the door to better practices.

A package of a tablet-based ELD and fleet telematics software is one of the more popular IT solutions for smaller fleet operators. Small fleets may see the investment in ELD as an unavoidable cost without much benefit, but the right mobile solution builds on the capabilities of the ELD. Deployment costs and risks can be minimized with the Samsung Knox platform, which provides defense-grade security and easy-to-use tools for mobility management.

With an investment in fleet technology, small operators have the capability to monitor asset locations, engine performance, fuel usage, hours of operation, maintenance problems, cargo temperature and tampering. These transportation IT solutions help large and small fleets make better use of the available driving time each day.

Fleet Technology Drives Fuel Efficiency

Fuel costs represent 20 to 40 percent of fleet expenses, according to the ATRI survey. With an ELD solution, fleets can provide quantitative driver feedback to improve performance. The system will track driving parameters such as time spent idling, rapid acceleration and hard braking. Tracking maintenance data such as tire pressure, engine temperature and oil changes can contribute to improving fuel economy as well. Managers can work with drivers to highlight best practices that result in reduced driving risks and improved fuel efficiency.

Some fleets have found that fuel savings alone have basically covered the cost of ELD implementation, Transport Topics reported. In one test, a fleet telematics provider reported that using ELDs improved fuel efficiency by nine miles or more per gallon, compared to the national average savings of 4.51 to 6.37 mpg.

Some trucking companies share drivers’ performance data to incentivize fuel efficiency through driver rankings and foster a culture of friendly competition.

Transportation IT Solutions Improve Fleet Maintenance

Using operational data, fleet operators can develop preventive maintenance programs that reduce the time that trucks are unavailable due to unscheduled maintenance. Drivers conduct their pre-trip and post-trip inspections and send any items they write up to the maintenance department. The system can automatically send reminders when maintenance is coming due. All the maintenance data is visible to anyone using the system rather than being locked away in a spreadsheet or a notebook.

Using data to improve driver behavior can also lead to lower maintenance costs from reduced wear and tear.

Fleet Technology Drives Better Load Visibility

ELDs give fleets more information about the location of a truck, trailer and the load, with real-time updates into the driver’s hours of service status. With this information, operators have better visibility into their capacity that allows them to accept loads from customers or brokers that need capacity for short lead-time runs. Operators can also monitor driver movements at customer docks and bill detention time when needed. With this visibility, fleets can better manage driving time and build customer relationships.

Trucking fleets of any size can reduce their operating costs with robust IT solutions for fleets that go beyond basic ELD compliance to embrace the full power of fleet telematics data.

Summary: Possible cost savings achieved with in-cab technology include:

  • Increase average MPG from 4.51 to 6.37

  • Reduce transportation costs and boost fleet utilization through route optimization and vehicle monitoring

  • Reduce operating costs by monitoring driver behavior and vehicle conditions

  • Cover the cost of ELD implementation through fuel savings

Learn more about how you can boost fleet management and telematics with innovative digital solutions.