"Try to determine what your biggest pain point is," suggests Frank Moreno, vice president of marketing for Cadec, a Manchester, NH-based provider of advanced mobile-technology services and solutions. "It may be customer service, compliance or reducing paper. Whatever it is, start with that and once that's accomplished, build on that."
Being able to make greater use of available resources, through the deployment of an onboard system is a prime method for seeing a quicker ROI.
Norm Ellis, VP and general manager for transportation and logistics at Qualcomm-a San Diego, CA company that provides wireless and asset management solutions-tells about implementing a system with the largest potato chip manufacturer in the U.S.
"They said they were at 80 percent efficiency on their trailers and thought if they could get to 90 percent they would have a great ROI. We did the pilot for 60 days and it came out that their actual utilization was 62 percent."
He says that the company wasn't accounting for the fact that some managers in the field were hiding trailers from the system, in order to make sure they had access to them when they needed them. When all the trailers were accounted for in the pilot test, the overall utilization dropped.
"Now, as their business grows, they won't need to add any more trucks," he says. "They can grow over the next year by 10 to 12 percent and not have any capital expenditures."
One of the quickest ways to recoup the cost of an onboard system is by reducing a fleet's overall fuel consumption and increasing miles per gallon. One way a system does this is by reducing out-of-route miles per truck.
"Drivers have a tendency to stray off their appointed routes from time-to-time, in order to run personal errands," says Ken Yeomans, director of professional services for XATA. "They could drive 20 miles of their route and 20 miles back, so not only have they burned an hour of time, but they also burn all of that fuel as well."
Thanks to the tracking capabilities offered by onboard systems, companies can take steps to restrain drivers from using company trucks for personal use.
Hours Of Service
Another way that onboard systems can help fleets save money is through maintaining their drivers' hours of compliance, in order to meet DOT regulations. Fines can run companies in the thousands of dollars if one of their drivers is over his hours.
"Our system tracks a driver's available hours, so that when you're planning a route, you can see what hours they have available," explains Chuck Motta, product manager for Cadec. "If you have a large fleet of drivers, you can put the ones with the most hours of service left in routes that may take longer and thereby save yourself a lot of fines."