By Brian Matuszewski, Sustainable Strategies Manager, ARI
A new year causes many to stop and reflect on the things they would like to improve upon in their life and develop resolutions focused on change. For a fleet manager, this kind of exercise can be just as valuable.
And, although we are a ways into the new year at this point, taking some time to consider your fleet and any changes or improvements you might be able to make can very possibly lead to increased efficiency and lower total cost of ownership, which in turn improves your sustainability.
In addition to considering the practical aspects of your fleet – fuel, maintenance, etc. – it is also helpful to take a longer, more strategic view of your operations to ensure you are maximizing the potential of your vehicles and equipment. Things you may want to evaluate include:
- Your fleet strategy. Nothing is as important to the successful operation of your fleet as is a solid, well thought out plan. Taking the time to clearly define your fleet’s objectives, the vision for how your fleet should operate, and the steps it will take to get there will pay dividends long into the future. As yourself: in a perfect world, what would your fleet to look like? Almost every fleet seeks to lower their total cost of ownership, but what other goals do you have for your organization? Do you want to lower emissions? Improve driver safety? Lower your fuel costs or increase the number of clean technology vehicles you have in your fleet? All of the above? Taking the time to define what you want to achieve via realistic, measurable, data-based goals will ensure that you put in place the right framework from the beginning to be a success.
- Your allocated budget. Having ideas is one thing – but unless you have the budget to implement them, you’re not likely to get very far. Once you have a strategy in place, however, you can begin to work on things you can change right away as well as things you would like to change in the long run. Make sure your budget is closely tied to your strategic plan and use it to benchmark your successes over time; this will allow you to be better positioned to redefine your budget requirements – and ask for more resources – when the opportunity arises.And remember, when discussing your strategic plan with others in your organization, it can be important to remind them that investing in a sustainable, world-class fleet oftentimes can require some expenditure upfront, but those dollars are recovered over the full operating cycle.
- Your current fleet utilization. More often than not, efficiencies can be uncovered by taking a detailed inventory of your fleet – i.e. documenting each vehicle’s unique mission, job and operating requirements to ensure you have the best vehicle for each application and you are optimizing the size and composition of your fleet.Fleet inventories often expand over time to include vehicles that are highly specialized, rarely used or unsuitable for current applications.By evaluating and optimizing your fleet’s size, you can likely reduce costs related to fuel, maintenance, insurance and registration. Those are funds you can either chalk up to overall savings or can allocate elsewhere for a more strategic use.
By taking the time now to think about possible long term improvements – or “resolutions” – for your fleet, you will position yourself for success in the future. Now more than ever before, opportunities exist for fleet operators to configure smarter, cleaner, world-class fleets. Choosing the right technologies and deploying them in a thoughtful, strategic way will deliver superior results and, ultimately, lower TCO.
About the author:
Brian joined ARI in early 2013 as Manager – Strategic Consulting, Sustainable Strategies. Previously, he spent time working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Resource Conservation & Recovery and as an analyst for a consulting firm in Mexico City, Mexico, where he conducted environmental policy research on sustainable development initiatives for governments and multinational corporations. Brian earned both his bachelor and master degrees from Cornell University.
Brian can be reached at email@example.com.