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There’s a truck metric for that

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Jason Morgan is the editor of Fleet Equipment. He has more than 15 years of B2B journalism experience covering the likes of trucking and construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer industries.

Data metrics are, in a way, the new “app.” Need to know your average downtime due to an unplanned service stop? There’s a metric for that. Want to know where your truck is? There’s a metric for that. Do you have an idea for how long your trucks typically idle? There’s a metric for that too. Today’s heavy-duty truck industry is all about tracking, charting and analyzing; one big concern that some fleets are tackling today deals with truck turn-around time.

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“The resale market is always one of supply and demand,” said John Rickette, vice president and manager of the transaction team for Fleet Advantage. “The migration from a six to eight year life-cycle to a 36 to 42 month cycle has been generating demand due to the lower associated operating costs, reliability and safety of the later model year vehicles. Resale buyers are now able to purchase relatively low-mileage, pre-owned vehicles that are still under warranty and have been in service only three to four years in the primary market. Using information from the on-board computers, resale buyers have access to the MPG history allowing them to calculate the savings in fuel costs.”

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Leveraging today’s telematics and data analytics, Fleet Advantage unveiled its data index resource designed to compare all-in costs of older model year Class 8 trucks and calculate the savings of new model replacements. The Advanced Truck Lifecycle Administrative Analytics Software (ATLAAS) program is based on algorithms that consider a variety of factors including original truck cost, inflation, cost of funds, average MPG, recent diesel prices, historical maintenance costs, and assumptions on lease term and annual mileage. The index then provides an approximate range of operating cost savings of a new model year vehicle when compared to the model year they are presently operating given current market conditions. For example, the index calculates that companies would save approximately $18,081 per truck in the first year of operation by upgrading from a 2011 model-year vehicle to a 2017 model, and would reduce their CO2 emissions by 14%.

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Given the broad scope of makes, models and spec options, you may be asking yourself how accurate this index could be.

Rickette said that the index is accurate enough in terms of industry average figures to give fleet manager a ballpark view of savings. When working with a fleet, Fleet Advantage does a complete review of the fleet, operations and duty-cycles to customize the index inputs.

“ATLAAS and the Comparative Cost Analysis are just two of the analytical tools we use,” Rickette explained. “Our Lifecycle Management Software provides granular detail for each individual vehicle and offers prospects a tool to actually pinpoint which units to upgrade based on specific operating cost criteria. For example, a fleet manager could readily identify specific units that would generate operating costs savings above a certain threshold, say $10,000, by replacing them with new units. Additional analytical tools include an Emissions Scorecard, Lifecycle Cost Analysis, Sales Tax Analysis, and Lease vs. Ownership Analysis.”

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While truck orders remain down to flat for 2016, Rickette said that well-kept, hard-working pre-owned trucks are usually always in demand. “Although lower orders today impact the overall supply, the most significant impact occurs when units enter the secondary market at the end of the primary user’s life cycle. We do see a high demand in the resale markets for the premium quality, low mileage, late-model vehicles,” he said.

With data continuously streaming off today’s trucks, practically every aspect of a fleet’s business can be quantified and qualified. Knowing when and how to put the most efficient truck equipment to work can make all the difference in today’s hotly contested carrier market.

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