Rightsizing out of necessity

Published in September 2021 Fleet Affiliation

Over the past several months, the vehicle production supply chain has been especially challenging for fleet managers. As a result, many fleets have been forced to extend truck replacement intervals or re-evaluate needs based solely on market availability. Unfortunately, in the vocational world it is not as simple as making do with a different platform.

Through the years, job demands in the vocational field have often become more complex. The demand for increased output continues even during difficult times. The standard response to this demand is to seek bigger trucks. Of course, this is not a sustainable solution -- due to vehicle availability and suitability to job function.

At some point, it’s important to regroup and rethink. Instead of “bigger,” it might be more prudent to instead design smarter, more efficient trucks. The thought of right-sizing vehicles is often met with resistance from operators, who might be conditioned to believe bigger is always better. Fleet managers must understand the needs of the operation and provide optimal equipment to perform the job. Often this is a balancing act between the wants and needs of end-user operators, and obtaining resources available within the timeline.

Refresh the spec’s
When vehicles are ready to be replaced, do you tend to pull out the last truck’s spec’s? Most seasoned fleet managers are guilty of this practice because it’s often difficult to find a few extra minutes to refresh spec’s based on present need and resource availability. But the truck you bought yesterday, and possibly the truck you want and need today, may not be available. Look at several scenarios and options to keep your fleet afloat while we navigate the current climate.

Your users are frustrated too
Change can be positive. Supply chain challenges impact a wide realm of industry; more than likely, your stakeholders are experiencing challenges too,  so use clear communication when you lay down the groundwork. Understanding stakeholder needs can put fleet managers in a position to optimize the trucks and services being provided, while navigating what is feasible. In the end, fleet managers will have to make compromises, but the first step is to leverage all available resources with truck design.

Don’t be afraid of change
Change can also offer opportunities to become more efficient and grow your organization. Fleet mangers often say there seems to be a mindset to replace a van with a van, a service truck with a service truck, and so on. Avoid this pitfall and educate stakeholders on alternatives and pick the unit that best meets the operational needs of your organization. Finding the proper vehicle that is the right size is critical to the success of your fleet. 

Looking for more fleet insight? Contact Chris Lyon, NTEA director of fleet relations at chris@ntea.com