The National Private Truck Council, Optima Associates and Schneider National have created the Private Fleet Assessment Program, a Web-based management resource to help carriers weigh the costs and overall performance of their fleet.

"The new Private Fleet Assessment Program we're unveiling takes that information and insight to a much higher and more sophisticated level in an interactive and dynamic way," said Gary Petty, president and CEO of NPTC.

The tool draws on the expertise, knowledge and data of NPTC, Optima Associates and Schneider National to provide carriers with an assessment module. The program allows fleets to score themselves in eight different categories, including safety and fleet organization, network planning, customer management, fleet management, information management, driver management, continuous improvement and financial management.

"While each fleet has its own performance characteristics, there are common dimensions influencing the outcomes and success of each fleet," said Steven Hirt, president of Optima. "We collaborated with the NPTC and Schneider to develop a program that measures 40 different attributes contributing to a fleet's overall performance. The transportation planners and fleet owners we've previewed the tool with find the insight into fleet management best practices and the customized suggestions for improvement for their individual fleet to be invaluable."

To get started, fleets visit the Optima web site, which asks for key operating information and assesses their performance against the 40 attributes. The standards for scoring come from hundreds of industry benchmarks and experts. In the end, fleet managers receive a report comparing its performance against the standards as well as a set of recommendations for improvement.

"The systematic way in which the program captures and scores relevant data gives a private fleet a realistic picture of how it stacks up against best-in-class standards," said Gary Strausbaugh, vice president of transportation for Mennel Milling Company, which tested the tool.

"We know firsthand how critical it is to have accurate and timely information when making decisions about a fleet," said Todd Jadin, senior vice president of dedicated operations at Schneider National.

"Private fleet justification exercises are a fact of life at many companies-more so perhaps in tough economic times," said Harry Haney, III, associate director of logistics pperations for Kraft Foods. "The Program helps managers get a true handle on the right metrics to make the best case for their operations."

NPTC members can take the basic-level assessment free of charge, while the complete assessment does require payment.

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