How can fleets improve trailer utilization?

Article Published by Geotab
Author: Cory Halbardier, Director of Business Development and Operations, Flex Tracking and Telematics Solutions
https://www.geotab.com/blog/fleets-improve-trailer-utilization/

When you receive an email from another department requesting more trailers, you might ask yourself: “Do I really need to buy more?” You are aware that you have many trailers sitting idle at customer sites, but you might not know where they are located or how to make better use of them. Is there a solution to optimize your fleet and minimize costs? Read to find out.

Tracking trailer utilization and ROI

Best-in-class fleet managers use many metrics to measure the effectiveness of their fleets. One of the most practical is trailer utilization. 

Trailer utilization measures the percentage of time the trailer is in active use and on the road making money for the company. It can be easily calculated by taking the monthly total hours used by all trailers across a fleet (or at a site) divided by the total working hours for all trailers — usually 8 or 16 hours per day times fleet size. This number is correlated with return on investment (ROI) on the trailer fleet. 

Maximizing trailer utilization

By tracking percent utilization on each trailer, fleet managers can work towards achieving the greatest return possible for the company. 

Benefits of tracking trailer utilization

Tracking utilization on trailers enables fleet managers to: 

  • plan trailer capacity for seasonal peaks
  • determine the optimal balance between owned and leased trailers
  • avoid purchasing new trailers
  • justify new trailers when they are actually needed

A best practice for fleet managers is to operate from a dashboard to review relevant fleet metrics. Based on the weekly and monthly trends, managers can identify problems and enact policies to improve these metrics over time. The resulting improvements prove the effectiveness of their fleet management.  

The final step is to use these metrics to guide changing business requirements and match demand (business need) with supply (trailers) to maintain these optimal metrics. 

Flex’s TT60x

The TT60x helps fleet managers track percentage utilization on their trailers to get a better understanding of how much each trailer is used. This data can then be used to either move trailers to different sites where utilization will increase or remove the trailers from the books.  

The TT60x provides 1-minute GPS fixes while moving to give you a full history of your trailers.  Additionally, aggregating trip reports allows you to see how many hours per day each trailer is being used so you can make proactive decisions to benefit your fleet. Installing the solar-powered TT60x is simple as it attaches to the front of the trailer with four fasteners—no wiring necessary.

The possible outcome

If a fleet manager reduces their fleet size by just one percent, the cost of the hardware and first year services could provide 100% payback in less than 11 months (assuming a $40,000 trailer cost).

Example scenario:

Imagine this, you decide to implement trailer tracking at a site with 80 trailers where you suspect utilization to be low. Looking at the average start and stop time of your fleet, you decide to select a work day of eight hours. In the first month, there were 21 work days, so a maximum total of 168 hours per truck or 13,440 hours total across the fleet.  

Then, you use the trip reports in MyGeotab to add together the total moving time for your fleet and find that they were moving a total of 2851 hours. This represents a 21% utilization (21% = 2851 divided by 13,440). Once you are able to understand the reason for low utilization at specific sites, you can reduce spending on trailer leases by reallocating trailers to different sites. 

Where to start?

For some fleet managers, the best place to start making improvements is by measuring the performance of between one and four sites to work on improving their metrics before rolling out changes across their whole fleet. To get started and find out more about the TT60x by Flex, go to MyAdmin or talk to your Product Account Manager.  

About Flex:

Flex is the Sketch-to-Scale® solutions provider that designs and builds intelligent products globally. With approximately 200,000 professionals across 30 countries, Flex provides innovative design, engineering, manufacturing and real-time supply chain insight and logistics services to companies of all sizes across industries and markets. For more details, go to Solar Asset Tracker on the Geotab Marketplace and click Request Info.