Blog

The Element Fleet blog is written by various fleet experts we've invited to participate. They offer their opinions and comments on issues related to fleet management, maintenance, telematics, trucks, vehicle accident management, driver safety and more. You also have the opportunity to respond or ask questions. So go ahead and join the conversation.

Just a note: The opinions of the writers don’t necessarily reflect the position of Element Fleet Management on these subjects.

In a recent article in Work Truck Magazine, I provided some insights into some of the trends we’re seeing in fleet truck and van upfitting. These include:
 
  • The increasing importance of safety and productivity in van and truck upfitting. Fleet managers are giving increased consideration as to whether an upfit will be ergonomically safe for the driver over the service life of the vehicle.
    They’re also increasingly focused on how upfits can be designed to enhance productivity. In our Truck Excellence team, we look at what clients are doing with their trucks. Are they climbing in and out of them numerous times a day? Do they have particular needs for servicing their own clients? At the Red Cross, for instance, the people driving the vehicles are not professional drivers – they’re nurses, aid workers, etc. These workers have a dual role. As companies push to meet their bottom lines, they’re considering alternatives to get the job done. They want the upfitting to accommodate that and make it safe, comfortable, and productive for the driver. 
  • Customized re-designs of interior packages. Clients turn to us and say, “What can we do to redesign?” We look at what they’re hauling, their requirements or the vehicle itself (how much room for payload, etc.), what hours they operate, whether there’s an option in terms of the body’s material, and make recommendations. For the Red Cross, for example, we wanted to get out of being classified as a DOT vehicle and into a lighter GVWR, but haul the same product.” 
  • Increase specification of LED Lighting. One very specific upfitting trend we’ve noticed is a growing interest in LED lighting. It takes less energy and provides better lumen, more of a maintenance-free operation, and lasts longer. 
Read the whole article for more trends and insights into truck and van upfitting. 
 
I’ve been working with our Business Development and sales teams to introduce a new event for fleet professionals in the western region – and we’re excited to invite you to attend: 
 
2015 Element Fleet Forum
June 8 – June 9
Houston, Texas
 
 
It’s a great opportunity to learn, network and capture new ideas for enhancing fleet performance. There is no cost to register. Monday night is a networking reception, and then we have presentations, speakers and interactive workshops on Tuesday, June 9.
 
Our theme will be Change Management – from updating you on marketplace changes, to helping you manage through internal business change, to transforming the way you think about change. 
 
We’re excited to have noted motivational and training expert Bruce Wilkinson as our keynote speaker. He’ll discuss the topic,  “Give Change a Chance:  Where There's Change There's Opportunity.”
 
Whenever we do interactive workshops at any of our events, they are almost always the most popular segments. So we’ve chosen three interactive workshops designed to send you home with expanded knowledge and new ideas for your fleet. It’s going to be a great time for learning, sharing and networking.
 
Visit our Fleet Forum website for more information the Element Fleet Forum – and then register today!
 
We’d love to see you in Houston!
As our Material Handling Equipment team talks with fleet managers and operations managers about what concerns them most, one topic that comes up consistently is safe operation of forklifts. That’s why I decided to write about it in my latest article for Fleet Management Weekly, 
 
 
If you use forklifts in your company, you know that many of the problems arise from lack of proper operator training. OSHA regulations stipulate what that training should consist of – and I encourage you to read the article to find out more.
 
For a quick tutorial on various aspects of material handling equipment, feel free to check out these other blogs:
 
 
And let me know if there’s a particular topic you’d like me to cover. 
 
Heads up to all truck fleets: International Roadcheck, scheduled for June 2-4, is an annual three-day event when tens of thousands of commercial motor vehicle inspections are conducted throughout North America. Designed to improve the safety of the vehicle, driver and cargo, the Roadcheck initiative means about 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial and federal inspectors perform roadside inspections during a 72-hour period. This boils down to about 17 trucks or buses inspected every minute!
 
What are they looking for?
 
The first thing these inspectors look for is the brake system of the truck or bus. They look for air leaks, as well as correct brake adjustment and functional brake system warning devices. 
 
In terms of your drivers, the inspectors will check driver’s license, log book, registration and manifest. 
 
For more information about what the inspectors will check, go here.  
 
Special emphasis in this year’s inspections: Securing cargo 
 
Each year, International Roadcheck places special emphasis on a category of violations. This year the focus is on the proper loading and securing of cargo. 
 
As this is a major safety issue, these inspections serve as a reminder to drivers that regulations require that they stop within the first several miles of a trip and recheck the tie downs and other load securing equipment, particularly for loads that are not sealed or otherwise inaccessible to the driver.
 
Preparing for Roadcheck 2015
 
We recommend that, as part of your truck strategy, you think about how your company will handle Roadcheck 2015 and take the steps to make sure your equipment, paperwork and loading procedures are in good shape to pass inspections. The Roadcheck 2015 website has many tips and ideas for helping you do this. And of course, if you partner with Element, we’ll be happy to help you prepare for this event.
We are headed to Phoenix, Arizona, for the 2015 Institute for Supply Management (ISM) Annual Conference May 3-6. This is where over more than 3,000 supply chain and procurement professionals from all over the world are expected to come together for education, research and relationship building.
 
Element Fleet will be there in Booth #320. Here’s what we’ve got in store:
  • Try driving a big truck using our virtual reality truck simulator – test your skills in this video game-like immersion experience!
  • Improve your fleet strategy and get personalized tips from our experts about reducing your fleet’s total cost of ownership – discover what you could be doing more effectively.
We’re looking forward to a fun and educational time at ISM talking about fleet management and truck safety. Hope to see you (or your procurement manager) there!
 
The National Private Truck Council (NPTC) Education Management Conference and Exhibition starts this weekend and continues through April 28 in Cincinnati. NPTC is a trade association devoted to the interests of the private corporate trucking fleet industry and its professional practitioners. Its annual conference draws a wide cross-section of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and other organizations ranging in size from family-owned small businesses to Fortune 500 global conglomerates. 
 
As always, Element Fleet will be there! If you’re planning to attend the conference, please stop by Booth #223, where: 
  • Our Truck Excellence team, our Material Handling Equipment team, and our heavy duty truck experts will be on hand to consult with you about your fleet.
  • We’ll discuss best practices in truck fleet management that will help you be more productive at lower cost
  • We’ll have some fun giveaways and a drawing for a Bose wireless speaker – enter to win!
Hope to see you there!
 

QuoteThat quote personifies how we feel here at Element Fleet. Doing what it takes to satisfy you, our customers, is one thing – but earning your loyalty is another major level of commitment, and we re-commit to that every day.

Because April is Customer Loyalty Month, I wanted to say “Thank you” for allowing us to partner with you in achieving your organization’s success. We enjoy working with you, finding new solutions to your challenges, and delivering the proactive service that helps you be more successful.

And I’m happy to say that we have a pretty good track record for customer loyalty. We have more than 300 customers who have been with us for 15 years or more – over 150 who have been with us 30 years or more, and around 20 who have been with us an astounding 60 years or more.

If you’re a fleet manager, you care about driver safety and consider safety factors when developing your vehicle selector. Element Fleet Management’s Accident Management team recently completed a high-level analysis for a pharmaceutical client to test whether All-Wheel Drive (AWD) vs. Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) could affect the probability of getting into an accident. The following processes and assumptions were included in our analysis:

  • Element examined detailed accident management data reported during CY 2014 for a pharmaceutical client and two additional benchmark pharmaceutical clients.
  • Incidents not applicable for an AWD vs. FWD analysis were removed, such as parking, glass repairs, acts of nature, vandalism, other party faults, etc.
  • Incidents most likely applicable for an AWD vs. FWD analysis were left, such as collision with a stationary object and/or animal, skidded or slid, driver lost control of vehicle and pedestrian collision.
  • The resulting accident dataset included a total of 273 incidents with cars and light vehicles of various years, makes and models distinguished by AWD vs. FWD through model designation.

The results:


Out of 273 total incidents, 68% of the collisions occurred in a FWD vehicle and 32% of the collisions occurred in an AWD vehicle. This represents nearly a 2 to 1 ratio in favor of AWD, using collisions as the criterion.

While there may not be definitive research showing improved safety from the use of AWD vs. FWD, this analysis points out how critical it is to consider numerous factors – even factors outside the normal “safety equipment” options – when choosing your selectors.

Does your fleet have both AWD vs FWD vehicles? I’d be interested to hear about your experience in terms of accident rates.

FWD vs. AWD

My latest article in Fleet Management Weekly is all about one of the most important subjects related to material handling equipment: Fleet maintenance. 
 
It’s one thing to have a checklist of normal things to take care of, like checking batteries, cables, electric wires and spark plugs for wear and corrosion; transmission fluid for appropriate level, color and odor and hoses and hydraulic valves for leaks or breaks in the sealing.
 
But what’s really valuable is a fleet maintenance plan – and this article provides some recommendations for developing one. Read it here:
 
 
Having and sticking to a maintenance plan not only enhances safety and productivity, but reduces costs.
 
If you’d like to read some of the other blogs we’ve posted on this series of articles, you can find them here:
 
 
And if you have a topic you’d like me to cover in my series of article on material handling equipment, please let me know!
 
If you operate a commercial truck fleet, you probably know that one of the most frequent accidents in your vehicle operation is a rear end collision. In many cases these accidents are the result of “following too close,” where there was not enough stopping distance available. 
 
It’s not always the fault of the driver, as in many cases, another vehicle or motorcycle will try to slip in front of the truck without realizing the distance the truck needs to stop in.
So how much distance IS needed? Take a look at this infographic:
 
TruckStopDistance Blog
 
The data shows stopping distance for vehicles operating in perfect weather conditions. If we add inclement weather such as rain, snow or ice to the equation, the stopping distances increase. And darkness potentially increases stopping distance even more, as it affects the driver’s reaction time. So add one second for each variable.
 
Tips to reduce rear end collisions:

  1. Increase the distance between the vehicle you are driving and the vehicle in front of you. Statistics have shown that most drivers keep a 2-second distance between vehicles travelling at speed. The 4-second rule gives the driver a better chance of stopping in time to prevent a collision.

    How to determine the 4-second rule:

    Pick out an item on the side of the road, whether it’s a tree or lamp post. When you see the car in front of you go past that tree or post, count off how long it takes you to reach that same marker. Anything less than 4 seconds when travelling at speed could mean that you are following too close to the vehicle in front of you.
  2. Keep your eyes scanning ahead of you as far as possible to detect potential hazards and give yourself time to react if needed.
  3. Always know the location of each vehicle around you, including vehicles behind you.
  4. While stopped at an intersection, always make sure you can see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you from your normal sitting position. To avoid rear ending the vehicle in front of you if it makes an unexpected stop in the intersection, look left, right and left while counting “123 go” before starting up your vehicle.
  5. If a vehicle cuts you off, stay calm and maintain the correct following distance to include slowing down if needed.
  6. Avoid conversations in your vehicle and thoughts that keep your mind off your driving.
  7. To prevent accidents – or in some cases to define who was at fault – some companies choose to install cameras in the vehicles. There are several companies that market this technology and can provide you with data that will justify the return on investment. This technology can possibly fill in the gaps of ‘who said what’ and what actually happened. However, the accident footage is not always admissible in court. 
Let me know if you have other suggestions for reducing rear end collisions!

 

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