Achieving some sort of payback from investments in a variety of safety-related technologies – from automatic tire inflation devices to stability control systems – has long been a goal within the trucking industry.
Now fleets are extending such payback analysis inside the truck cab, finding ways to use onboard computer technology ostensibly designed to be electronic logbooks, real-time vehicle speed monitors, etc., to save money.
For example, Ed Meyer, director of transportation for H.T. Hackney Co., detailed his fleet’s efforts to achieve payback from the installation of Qualcomm’s next generation mobile computing platform (MCP) on 550 of the company’s 700 tractors. In a webinar sponsored by Qualcomm Enterprise Services, Meyer said one of the biggest cost savings Hackney has achieved to date centers on the ability to monitor and then significantly reduce engine idling within the fleet.
“We originally started with Qualcomm and its FleetAdvisor product in 2003 and now we’re upgrading to its MCP,” he explained. “But in making this upgrade we were tasked with not only making the fleet safer but to develop cost savings and greater efficiencies with the technology as well.”
Idling reduction proved to be the biggest money saver of Hackney’s efforts so far. “We allow for 15 minutes of idling at the start and end of the driver’s day and [with the MCP] we monitor that closely,” Meyer said. “We were able to reduce our fleet-wide idling average from 42% down to 11%, and that’s including sleeper tractors.”
Hackney is also using that data to help its 36 grocery warehouses, four furniture manufacturing and distribution centers, and water bottling facility compete against each other in terms of which one maintains the lowest percentage of idling on a month-to-month basis. “We’ve found that no one wants to be at the bottom of the pile and that’s had a remarkable effect on reducing our fleet idling percentage,” Meyer pointed out.
For a fleet logging 20 million miles per year, Meyer added that reducing idling that much is allowing for rapid payback for such in-cab technology investments in many cases.
“For example, the idle reduction efforts alone helped one of our warehouses pay off the investment in this [in-cab computer] system in just 16 months through the idle-reduction fuel savings alone,” he stressed. “Make no mistake, however: we’ve been making this investment to improve safety. We believe being safe out on the road is the most important thing we do. But we’re also using this as an opportunity to reduce cost and ongoing operating expenses.”