Knowledge is always power, and in the trucking industry, access to driver and vehicle performance data helps management make decisions that squeeze every ounce of profit out of their fleets.
In addition, the frequency and timing of data delivery, the format it's in and the time periods the information covers are all important in the drive for productivity. What and When
Engine diagnostics-where the rubber meets the road-are the very essence of vehicle and driver performance. Speed, RPM, fuel efficiency, idle time and hours of operation are measurements that determine vehicle and driver productivity and safety.
The most valuable dashboards provide this information in real time as well as for other time periods. However, the flexibility to provide information for extended reporting periods enables trend analysis for spotting early on potential problem areas. Of course, safety performance information must be retained for either six or 12 months.
Text reports are helpful when comparing time periods for trends. Toggling between various reports that compare performance at various levels is also beneficial: driver/vehicle performance to other drivers/vehicles in the terminal, region or entire fleet; terminal performance to other terminals in the region or the entire fleet; and regional performance to other regions or entire fleet.
Graphical displays provide a distinct advantage in terms of at-a-glance interpretations. An interactive tool for adjusting thresholds on the fly depicts top and bottom vehicle and driver performers at each metric set point over various time periods. It's also a quick way to compare driver and vehicle performance in a terminal, region or fleet, enabling management to recognize outstanding achievement and address needs to modify behavior.
Management should have the ability to easily access dashboards at any point in time. In addition, automating delivery at specific intervals and times is convenient and practical. Reports that regularly arrive an hour or two before driver meetings provide a timely basis for discussion.
The easiest way to access dashboards is through the Internet. Information that is always current and always available from any computer browser is bar-none the gold standard.
Other electronically generated information that influences fleet operations and therefore merits reporting include:
* The ability to pinpoint the location of a vehicle, its direction, and speed at any given point in time via GPS is a tremendous asset in defending legal actions against your company.
* Tracking the volume and content of both driver- and dispatch-generated messages provides additional insight into behavior triggers.
* Monitoring exception-based performance with fault codes and alarms creates a behavioral profile for each driver that can be appropriately addressed.
* Reporting drivers' hours helps manage HOS compliance and improves payroll accuracy; dispatchers can do a better job of assigning loads to drivers to reduce the possibility of regulatory fines.
Brian McLaughlin is the COO of PeopleNet, which offers Internet-based and integrated onboard computing and mobile communications systems.