The trucking industry is at a crossroads. Freight demand is at an all-time high. Reports in June 2018 of online freight board had 600,000 loads posting per day, up from just 250,000 on a typical day. Yet the number of available, qualified truck drivers to handle this freight has dropped to an all-time low. American Trucking Associations reported the industry is expected to hit a shortage of 174,000 truck drivers by 2026. Managing fleet truck cost in this type of climate requires you to switch gears, starting with these key areas.
Focus on Fuel Economy
Fuel is the biggest expense of any trucking company, no matter the fleet’s size. Fuel costs eat up almost 40 percent of conventionally powered fleets using all diesel and no new fuel-efficient technologies. Ideally, you will want to upgrade your fleet to include late-model trucks or retrofitted engine systems that are more fuel efficient. Tractor and in-cab technology, including automated driving features and fleet software, can help your drivers reduce fuel consumption even more by controlling their driving behaviors.
Perform Preventative Maintenance
One major way for managing the cost of fleet trucks is through routine truck maintenance. In fact, truck maintenance is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as part of trucking regulations. The FMCSA states:
“Every motor carrier shall systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles subject to its control.”
In addition to basic engine maintenance, this includes having truck accessories and parts that are in proper working condition for safe operations. Along with helping your fleet meet Department of Transportation regulations, preventative maintenance extends the lifecycle of your equipment.
However, there is a modern take on how often preventative maintenance should be conducted to be cost-effective. Check your truck warranty to see what the manufacturer recommends for preventative maintenance, such as oil changes and tuneups. Note that by choosing a synthetic oil, you can extend preventative maintenance intervals from 3,000 to 6,000 or 7,000.
Reduce Miles Driven
Choosing the shortest and fastest route possible to deliver freight is the goal of every fleet manager. This satisfies shipper deadlines while increasing the amount of freight that can be picked up per driver. All of that equates to greater profits, which can offset truck fleet costs. Yet there is a new way of managing fleet truck cost by reducing the number of miles traveled on fleet trucks. It all starts with truck tracking technology using GPS.
Increase Truck Tracking Capability
Tracking fleet trucks enables you to pinpoint drivers on a route in real time. As a fleet manager, seeing your drivers in motion enables you to make smarter dispatching decisions when sending out orders. Drivers can increase their capacity to pick up last-minute freight while over the road. This is much preferred to sitting and waiting on a load to pop up or deadheading back empty, both of which incur a loss for your company.
More importantly, truck tracking is becoming a standard in the trucking industry. Your competitors are offering GPS freight tracking for their shipping customers. Furthermore, customers appreciate having the ability to monitor their freight when in transit. This increases customer confidence in shipping with your company, which again, helps you offset expenses.
Select the Right Trailer
Another tip is to purchase trucks and trailers that are designed for specific haul types. For example, if you are transporting oversized freight, you need flatbed trailers that are equipped to handle this excessive weight. You can also invest in curtainside trailers or dry van containers that offer multipurpose for hauls. This gives you the ability to have trailers that provide the most use and value for your investment. Avoid purchasing a trailer for a single haul; look into renting equipment.
Choose Milea Truck for your preferred commercial truck dealer with truck rental and leasing services.