Optimizing performance using fleet data
Carl Opelt, right, co-owner of G&S Trucking in Neillsville, Wis., and John Ebben, a Mack Truck sales representative, discuss the ability to track and manage fleet assets in real time.
By Megan Gosch
With full fleet connectivity and real-time data collection capabilities coming to the forefront in nearly every new type of vehicle, it’s never been easier for fleet operators to visualize their full fleet and identify ways to optimize performance.
“The more data you have, the more avenues you have to find cost savings, efficiencies and opportunities to grow," says Kevin Hall, CHS vice president of supply chain and continuous improvement. “Operators who aren’t tracking and utilizing their data are leaving money on the table.”
The team behind G&S Trucking in Neillsville, Wis., began tracking data on their heavy-duty haul trucks and sand and gravel payloaders five years ago with the help of Mack Trucks data consultant Joe Ebben. They wanted to better understand their fleet’s performance and find ways to boost efficiency.
Through software that tracks fuel use, miles per gallon and idle time over the lifetime of each vehicle, the team no longer needs to spend time tracking metrics by hand.
“Using these tools, we almost immediately had an idea of miles per gallon and the performance we saw when trucks fueled up on the road versus back at home base,” says G&S co-owner Carl Opelt. The metrics have not only shown a return on investment in Cenex Roadmaster XL® premium diesel fuel, but also helped the team plan for future fuel needs and have given G&S drivers clear direction on when and how to fuel up.
“Before tracking, the co-op only had a record of what the G&S team was using through the course of the year,” says Isaac Brown, certified energy specialist at ProVision Partners Cooperative in Hixton, Wis. “With this new data, we can see exactly what the efficiency of that fuel was and be much more precise in planning for fuel needs and understanding how that evolves as the G&S fleet grows.”
A close look at the numbers showed the G&S team a surprising proof point that helped them rethink their strategies for pricing and route efficiency. “We were working to keep our trucks loaded at all times for optimal route efficiency, but when we saw a boost in our fuel efficiency on the legs where our trucks were empty, we knew we needed to start charging accordingly for the difference we didn’t realize we were paying,” says Opelt.
The team has also found opportunities to optimize by reducing idle time.
“If your equipment’s sitting still, you’re losing money, plain and simple,” says G&S Quarry Manager Nick Opelt. “With our new systems, we realized just how much time and fuel we were burning by keeping our equipment idling. That’s something you don’t realize while you’re out working, but back at your screen it’s hard to miss,” he says.
The team has now leveraged an automatic shut-off feature to kick in after a maximum five minutes of idle time. With these operational wins, the G&S team notes the early logistical improvements are just the start for the company’s data-driven strategies.
“These metrics are valuable for real-time problem-solving,” says Carl Opelt. “Data is the future.”
Check out the full issue of C magazine with this article and more.