Do you know your data?

Published in June 2021 Fleet Affiliation

As the world in which we live becomes more automated and digital, we are inundated with information. We are bombarded with information every day--whether it’s internal or external--to a point where it can become an overwhelming noise.

One key question to ask yourself is, “Do you know your data?” Just because you have data, doesn’t mean you understand it. Facts, figures and numbers all play an important role in the decision-making tree; however, it is important to understand your data. Historically, fleet professionals relied on experience and, to some extent, their gut feelings to make decisions.

Final decision-makers often want the statistical data to tell the story. This is where it is critical to know your data. Before any data-driven decision can be made, there are several things that need to be confirmed.

  1. Know what data your organization has available.
  2. Know the data is complete.
  3. Know the data is accurate.

If any of these situations cannot be met, you are not in a position to make an accurate data-driven decision. 

Where to begin?
Fleets often ask where to begin their data-driven decision-making process. It begins with understanding drive and duty cycle. Knowing how a vehicle is used, and how often a vehicle is used are the foundational blocks that need to be understood.

  • Drive cycle looks at speed, amount of idle time, power export time, number of starts and stops, as well as continuous running time.
  • Duty cycle measures how often a vehicle is used, and can include total miles driven per period, percentage of loaded vs empty operation, percentage of on-road versus off-road operation, and length of operating cycles.

These sets of information can aid in the design of a vehicle as well as support decisions to maximize vehicle utilization and efficiency.

Cutting through the noise.
Ensuring that information is complete and accurate is just the first step. Interpreting and communicating the information is mission critical. Information that is not interpreted becomes noise and can become detrimental to an organization. This circles back to knowing and now interpreting information for the proper audiences.

As the industry continues to evolve, traditional fleet management positions continue to evolve into a purchasing and financial position that may or may not have the experience or expertise needed to interpret information correctly. It is important for the individual to be able to take good data and turn it into good information.

Where can I get help?
Data-driven decisions can save money. Whether you’re looking at alternative or advanced technology for your fleet, interpreting data is the basis for success; however, not all fleets have the resources nor the expertise to achieve this task. Green Truck Association (GTA), an NTEA affiliate division, is in your corner to assist your organization.

One core mission of GTA is to improve work truck efficiency and productivity, ultimately affecting the bottom line. GTA developed the Data Logger Drive and Duty Cycle Analysis program in coordination with National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). It can bring you insight and actionable information. Beginning in July 2021, this service is free to GTA member fleets. Program applications can be submitted beginning July 1, 2021, and will be reviewed on a first come, first-served basis (participation based on data logger availability). For more information, visit