Specs and standardizing the fleet

Published in the February 2018 issue of Fleet Affiliation

In the vocational world, a standardized fleet can be difficult, especially if you have a small- to medium-sized fleet. However, there are several advantages to having a set of standards when it comes to vehicles and equipment (in addition to specifications). As it relates to the vehicle and equipment, a standardized fleet can lower maintenance and operating costs. Additionally, it can reduce operator confusion and increase safety. Although a fully standardize fleet may not be possible, there are a few strategies available to streamline operations — one is engaging upper management and financial decision- makers. I believe we’re past the point of making contract decisions based solely on lowest cost. Educating key financial decision-makers by showing direct monetary savings will often get them in your corner when trying to overcome the overall lowest cost as the only option. Looking beyond acquisition cost, it is important to explain how the fleet has standardized and streamlined operations in the maintenance shop and for the field staff operating the vehicles.

Available opportunities
In the vocational realm, it is difficult to standardize on a single vehicle type, as many vocational fleets are required to perform a wide range of jobs and tasks. However, when looking at medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, create a selector list with as few OEMs as possible and the fewest number of models as possible. Take a look at individual components. Many vocational trucks use common components — air compressors, alternators, engines, transmissions and axles. You may not be able to standardize on a specific chassis, but common components can reduce maintenance costs. Look at the upfit. Consider added components required for the vehicle. Review vehicle lighting, snow and ice removal equipment, second unit manufactures and other bolt-on components.

Saving money
Once standardization has been implemented, you can start to see the savings. One of the first and most prevalent savings is with inventory. Overhead inventory can be streamlined using standardized components. Other areas of savings include technician training costs, specialty tools and faster diagnosis when working on vehicles.

Another result of standardization can be improved safety and accident reduction. End users often become familiar with equipment they are operating. Operators will have increased understanding on how vehicles are set up, and this familiarity can increase productivity and reduce on-the-job accidents.

Don’t forget your vendors
Standardizing within your fleet is important; however, specification is another step that will ensure you receive a consistent product. Often, and especially if you have good vendor relationship, you will find yourself engaging in repeat business ventures. As your vendors and sourcing partners become familiar with your operation and organization, it is important to provide them with a standard specification. This takes the guess work out of their hands, as they know they are dealing with a customer who is consistent with vehicle and upfit requests. This makes their job easier and often ensures you will receive a consistent product, built to your specification.

The Work Truck Show® 2018
The Work Truck Show, North America’s largest work truck event, held in Indianapolis, Indiana, March 6–9, 2018, features the latest commercial trucks, vans, vehicle components and truck equipment on an exhibit floor covering more than 500,000 square feet — a must-attend event for fleet managers featuring some of the most extensive education and training to help you become a more productive fleet manager. Sessions begin March 6 and the exhibit hall is open March 7–9.

Fleet Technical Congress
This event, held in conjunction with The Work Truck Show March 6–8, 2018, brings together top fleet managers for technical and operational training — enabling you to explore the latest technology solutions while gaining management insights from leaders of some of the country’s biggest fleets and suppliers. Fleet Technical Congress is designed for both established fleet managers and those moving into more senior fleet management roles.

Green Truck Summit
At this annual conference, held March 6–8, 2018, fleet managers, truck equipment distributors, upfitters and truck dealers from around the world learn the clean energy developments and decisions shaping the journey toward the goal of zero-emission transportation, and the future of the work truck industry.

Visit worktruckshow.com/fleets for additional details. Questions? Call us 800-441-6832 or info@ntea.com.