In parts of the country, some of the first signs of spring and summer are construction jobs ramping up everywhere you look. The main goal for fleet managers in the construction industry is to track the use of each truck and piece of equipment, including monitoring costs associated with operating each piece, making sure to stay within the company’s fleet budget. They also look for ways to cut vehicle and equipment costs.
The biggest challenge for construction fleet managers is that they need to have a very good understanding of operations and how the trucks and equipment will be used in order to make the right vehicle selection for each work site. And it’s not just about managing trucks and vehicles, but also managing ‘yellow iron’ and other assets. There is a lot to track and stay on top of with construction fleets, so we’ve put together some advice to help you manage.
What kind of vehicle or equipment is needed and when and where?
To be successful as a fleet manager in the construction industry, you need to consider many factors to pick the right trucks and equipment that will best serve the needs of each project.
There is a delicate balance between getting the capability you need to get the job done and wasting money on unnecessary capability for a particular job. Reliability and durability are also critical factors because trucks or equipment with excessive downtime means losing money for your company. Not to mention that construction fleet managers have to understand specifically how the trucks are going to be used, what they are carrying or towing, and how the trucks can make employees more efficient.
Because of all of these factors, a strong understanding of fleet operations is necessary. To ensure this kind of understanding, communication with your crews is vital.
Fleet managers need to focus on the lifecycle costs of owning or leasing the trucks and equipment. One way to do that is to stay on top of preventative maintenance. Construction vehicles take a beating and require a fair bit of up-keep to prevent major repairs or downtime. Overlooking a proper preventative maintenance schedule can drive up fuel costs or repair costs or result in low resale values, which can easily outweigh any up-front savings. Fleet managers also need to make sure each vehicle adheres to industry standards and regulations for emissions, usage, and operation.
The only way to overcome challenges that arise from complying with new or changing regulations is to embrace technology.
For fleets with vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating), a new mandate by the U.S. Department of Transportation has gone into effect requiring electronic logging devices (ELDs) to keep records of duty status. Compliance with this new regulation is due by December 2017. ELDs are required to record vehicle location as well, which means that your logging devices will need to have GPS tracking capabilities. These changes can be challenging to implement, but they will help to provide you with efficiencies in the long run. Telematics can help fleets of any size, and it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Short-term rentals are an option
Strengthening relationships and expanding your network can help you find creative solutions to manage costs or take on extra jobs. When a job is secured, you have an immediate need for trucks and equipment. It can be difficult to find the right truck that has the capabilities you need and get it to the location at the right time. If you regularly meet with and stay in contact with companies that offer short-term rental fleet solutions, you may be able to pool together vehicles and equipment for overflow or last-minute jobs, so you don’t have to turn down work if you don’t readily have the fleet inventory to meet needs.
Last, but not least, just remember that the truck is a tool with the primary purpose of helping the driver be efficient. So do your own research on how trucks perform in the real world, and don’t just rely on a manufacturer’s information. Make sure you’re choosing vehicles and equipment that will perform as expected for how your crews are going to be using them, and bring the most profitability and efficiency to your construction business.