When looking to maximize the productivity of their fleets, executives should take advantage of the variety of resources available to them, both before and during the truck specification process. Industry experts can help them weigh and evaluate the hundreds of decisions awaiting them.

Photo: Evan Lockridge

Photo: Evan Lockridge

A major transportation trade magazine recently reported on a new survey that found fleet managers think that maximizing the productivity of their fleets is their foremost responsibility. When you spend an average $110,000 for a day cab or $115,000 to $130,000 for a sleeper, it’s no wonder that fleet executives demand that the money is well spent.

Those surveyed said that the best way to optimize productivity is by spec’ing the right truck for the job. That’s easier said than done, as any fleet professional will tell you. Specifying the right truck requires hundreds of decisions and choices – and each choice potentially impacts another. Moving from dual to wide-base tires will affect the choice of brakes. Adding an auxiliary power unit will impact the electrical system. Making the right decisions for your fleet during the specification stage is extremely crucial because one mistake can lead to others in the months and years ahead.

It’s also advisable to re-examine fleet behavior before spec’ing new vehicles. Fleet executives should make sure they have the full picture before making any buying decisions. They need to study data on current routes, expected and pickup deliveries and their sequence, and of course distance and time traveled, among many other things. Every detail can matter.

They also need to thoroughly understand the utilization of the fleet, looking at which vehicles are being used on which days, which sit idle, and how each is being used to maximize profit. It’s important to keep an open mind during this step. It might make sense to rent or lease some vehicles rather than owning the entire fleet. Likewise, it could be more advisable to spec a straight truck for some routes and tractor trailers for others. During this step, it may advisable to consider engaging a logistics expert to gauge and measure data and help determine how to properly interpret the findings.

When it comes to actually spec’ing a vehicle, one great resource to turn to is the local dealer. Nearly all today have access to analytical tools that let fleet managers input their specific needs, business applications, and other demands to discover the best purchase options. With literally hundreds of choices to be made, it’s essential to take advantage of the help that is out there, which can also include fleet management service providers with expertise in fleet planning and financing. These experts can leverage their knowledge when you are embarking on such a major investment.

So fleet executives consider fleet productivity – that is, maximizing the performance of assets – to be a top priority and they see the vehicle specification process as the route to achieving this. When investing well over $100,000 in a single asset, fleet professionals shouldn’t go it alone. Instead, we recommend you take full advantage of the knowledge and experience offered by industry experts to make the best decision in every case.

Jim Sweeney is vice president, capital equipment, for AmeriQuest Transportation Services. His career spans 35 years in fleet planning, acquisitions, and remarketing. For nearly two decades he served in management with Budget Car and Truck Rental.