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.

Fleet telematics technology is enabling fleet managers to have access to vast amounts of information that was formerly inaccessible. This data can have an enormous impact on productivity.
 
How?
 
If you already think you know, you may be surprised. Our clients who use telematics are discovering new and exciting possibilities every day. We’ve put together a short tip sheet that tells you more – you can access it here:
 
 
We have clients who say telematics technology has helped solve stubborn fleet challenges they’ve struggled with for years. I’d be interested to hear your story about using telematics – what has your experience been like?
 

I hope you’re enjoying our series of articles in Fleet Management Weekly on the subject of material handling equipment. Past blogs can be found here, here and here.

In this month’s edition, I focus on an important part of your fleet management strategy. “Financial Decision-Making: Leasing Versus Buying Material Handling Equipment” lays out the advantages and disadvantages of each financial alternative, depending on your organization’s specific needs. I provide some advice on how to go about making an informed decision taking numerous considerations into account.

Read the article now and let me know what you think.

Are you going to the ProMat Expo in Chicago?

On the same subject of material handling equipment, Element Fleet will be at the ProMat Expo in Chicago, March 23-26. This event is the largest expo for manufacturing and supply chain professionals in North America. At ProMat, you’ll have access to the latest material handling and logistics equipment and technologies.

If you’re planning to go, please visit our Booth #4863 to talk with our material handling equipment experts. They can help you meet the equipment specialists supporting your fleet, introduce you to new industry contacts, and walk the show floor with you to make the experience more valuable in every way.

Hope to see you there!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all, whether you’re Irish or not. It’s a day when we think “green” with shamrocks, wearing of the green and more. Fleet managers, let’s take this occasion to think green in another way – with environmentally-friendly driving practices!  Slight adjustments to daily driving habits can effectively reduce fuel consumption (and thus cut greenhouse gas emissions). Here are 8 tips to help fleet drivers become eco-drivers:  
  1. Avoid aggressive starts: A single second of “flooring it” can produce nearly the same amount of emissions as 30 minutes of normal driving.
  2. Keep vehicle properly maintained: Keeping tires properly inflated and getting regular oil changes and tune-ups not only lengthen the life of your vehicle, they improve fuel economy.
  3. Combine trips when possible: Warmed-up engines generate less air pollution.
  4. Reduce weight in vehicle: An extra 100 pounds of cargo can reduce a vehicle’s fuel economy by 1-2%. A fully loaded roof rack can reduce fuel economy by 5%. If you do need to carry the extra items, put them in the trunk or the bed of the truck. 
  5. Drive at a moderate speed: Driving the speed limit not only improves safety, it can increase fuel efficiency by 10% or more.
  6. Reduce use of the air conditioner. The A/C consumes nearly a gallon of gas per tank. If it’s really hot outside and you need the A/C, open your windows to remove hot air before turning it on.
  7. Park in the shade: Not only does a hot car take longer to cool, heat can cause fuel evaporation, hurting the environment and your wallet! 
  8. Use cruise control: By maintaining a constant speed, vehicles are more fuel-efficient.
These green driving tips also have a positive impact on fleet safety – so they’re good for the environment and good for the employee behind the wheel. One final but very important tip for St. Paddy’s Day: Be safe and designate a driver if you’re planning to celebrate!
 
Fleet Managers: If your fleet operates any DOT-regulated vehicles, safety is a top priority. One way for you (and others) to see how your fleet vehicles are doing is through CSA scores. Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck safety and reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities related to commercial motor vehicles. 
 
Every organization that operates these vehicles is rated – and the scorecard is public. Today, many shippers and potential clients that might use your services will validate carriers based on this report card. Too many infractions may be a sign of too much risk – potentially leading to lost shipping contracts.
 
In my formal training as a Six Sigma Blackbelt, we learned that “if it can be measured, it can be managed” – so your first step to a safer, more profitable fleet is knowing what your CSA scores are.
 
How to find out your CSA scores
  1. Go to http://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/
  2. Scroll down the page to the bottom left, where there’s a box that says “Check Motor Carrier Safety and Performance Data”
  3. Enter either your company’s DOT number or the company name you want to look up to check the current rating. You may need to add additional information as some carriers have similar names. 
These ratings are updated both hourly and daily depending upon the application.
 
Ratings and interventions
 
  • Companies are rated by the FMCSA on the following categories.
  • Unsafe driving
  • Crash indicator
  • Hours-of-service compliance
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Controlled substance & alcohol
  • Hazardous materials complianceSafety
  • Driver fitness
If the organization has a yellow triangle (pictured at right) attached to one of the above categories, action will be taken by the appropriate authorities to investigate. 
 
To dig deeper into what caused a potential investigation, click on the Box with the triangle and you will be directed to a graph. Click onto a Violation Summary and Inspection History to gain additional information about these
occurrences. By data mining, you can gain a clear understanding of your operation and develop a plan to get back on track and avoid potential audits, lost business and – most important – accidents.
 
Safety + Compliance = Safer Roads for Everyone
 
Today is Employee Appreciation Day, an “unofficial” holiday begun in 1995 to encourage employers to honor their employees. We did that today throughout our offices in the United States and Canada – and with good reason.
 
Element Fleet Management is in the business of managing assets for our clients – but our own greatest asset has always been our people, who care so much about delivering the highest quality service to our customers and their drivers. 
 
In addition, we’re proud to work with thousands of companies who also feel that their employees are of ultimate value. These clients care about their drivers’ safety and providing the right vehicles to help them be more productive, and we’re honored to help them do it.
 
As one of our activities for Employee Appreciation Day, our folks wrote cards to each other to say “thanks,” and our Senior Leadership Team personally distributed over 1700 cards throughout our offices in the U.S. and Canada. It has been a great day – and we celebrate all our Element employees for their dedication, hard work, creativity and caring hearts!
 
We’re excited to be participating once again in the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis on March 4-6. The Work Truck show is the largest, most comprehensive place for fleet managers to see all that is offered in the work truck arena – from manufacturers, upfitters and truck suppliers to educational sessions that address your major challenges.

Let Element Fleet Management’s truck experts help you navigate the show. 

We’ll help you meet the folks involved in your fleet, introduce you to new contacts, and walk the show floor with you to make the experience more valuable in every way.
 
Visit us in Booth #3767 to talk trucks and get some expert help in seeing the show. And while you’re there, enter our drawing to win a wireless Bose speaker.
 
See you in Indy!
 

If you’re new to fleet management, there are some fundamentals you need to know. To help you with information on leasing and replacement strategies, as well as understanding Total Cost of Ownership, we’ve developed a webinar that’s divided into a series of short, 2-3 minute videos located on our YouTube channel.
Here are the topics you can explore:

  • Determining Optimal Fleet Vehicle Replacement
  • Determining the Optimal Lease Term for Your Company Fleet
  • Determining Total Cost of Ownership of Your Company Fleet

To watch this webinar series, go here.

Let me know what you think of our fleet management webinar series – does making each topic separate fit your schedule better than having all three in one longer webinar?

Effective cost management is every fleet manager’s goal. You’re responsible for reducing costs while increasing driver productivity – and you need to be able to show how your fleet enhances your company’s bottom line. That’s why it’s so important to understand what your costs are, what drives them and how to measure them. 

For insights into typical fleet costs and best practices for measuring them, get our tip sheet:

What you need to know about fleet costs

Here are the questions it covers:
 
  • Do you know your fleet’s primary costs?
  • What key metrics should you be tracking?
  • What sources of data are available to you?
  • What factors that drive depreciation, fuel expenses and maintenance costs, and how can you control them?
  • To what benchmarks should you compare your metrics?
Let me know what you think.
 
Also check out this blog, which includes good information about understanding material handling equipment costs
 
Valentine’s Day is a big day in the greeting card industry, second only to Christmas. For card companies like American Greetings, an Element Fleet Management client, getting seasonal card products to market is key to success. And one crucial aspect of ensuring its card inventory is in the stores is its vehicle fleet.
 
This video about American Greetings shows you how its fleet, led by an agile and responsive team, had a major positive impact on the company’s bottom line:

Effective fleet management can make a real difference to sales, service and distribution – the “heart” of any organization. Have a happy Valentine’s Day!
 
My latest article is up on Fleet Management Weekly – “Strengthen your strategy by getting a grip on your material handling costs.” If your organization operates material handling equipment, it’s important to understand the direct and indirect costs, as they can be large enough to impact your bottom line and are worth investigating, documenting and reducing.
In this article, I discuss the various factors that go into understanding material handling equipment costs. 
 
Read the article here.
 
Other articles in this series can be found here and here
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