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.

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
A top priority for all fleet managers and operators is to ensure the safety of your drivers and the general public. When it comes to trucks and equipment, this commitment is especially important, as you must be compliant with regulations. So we’re beginning a monthly safety blog specific to your needs to help you augment your truck safety program.
 
This month: Ensuring your wheel lugs are tight.
 
Loose wheel nuts can occur for a variety of reasons, including undertorquing, overtorquing and other factors. If too many lug nuts are loose, the wheel could detach from the wheel stud, with potentially catastrophic results.
 
One solution: wheel nut indicators. These are small tags which are fixed to the lug nuts – see the pictures below with two different options for positioning the tags). The tag rotates with the nut, and if the nut becomes loose, the point of the tag shifts noticeably out of alignment with the other tags. Your driver only has to look at these indicators for loose lugs, and they can be tightened before the situation escalates into a lost wheel, with all the resulting expense and danger to the public.
 
  Wheel lugs    Tirecropped
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and if there are truck safety topics you’d like me to cover in this blog.

Fleet managers: You know that a good fleet telematics program can help you change driver behavior, enforce policies and reduce fuel costs. Regardless of your industry or type of fleet, telematics can also help:

  • Show you what you've been missing
  • Measure results

That's what you expect – and that's reason enough to consider implementing telematics in your fleet. But what additional benefits have our clients discovered?

We've put together an eBook on fleet telematics that provides more details on how this technology helps fleet managers operate more effectively. There's a whole section on “hidden advantages" that aren't often identified when talking about telematics – but are proving to have powerful impact on fleet effectiveness.

Get the Telematics eBook here.

Let me know what you think or if you have found additional benefits that you didn't expect.

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