A Better Strategy for Coping with Rising Gas Prices

Although most of us are feeling the effects of the recent spike in gasoline prices, the pain is especially acute for businesses with large vehicle fleets.  With barrel prices over $100, businesses dependent on a fleet of vehicles are desperately looking for ways to decrease their fuel consumption.

In many businesses, expenses can be reduced by creating more efficient delivery or maintenance routes.  Simple equation: more efficient routes equal less mileage and less dollars spent on fuel.  In addition to reducing fuel costs, vehicle maintenance costs and labor costs are correspondingly reduced.  As an added benefit, more efficient routes reduce traffic congestion, CO2 emissions, and road wear.

How can we use M2M technology to create more efficient routes?  Surprisingly, for many companies it doesn’t start with the vehicles.  Let’s focus on the locations and stops along the routes. What is the purpose of the stop—to make a delivery, pick up a load, or perform maintenance or service?  

For delivery of bulk products (liquids, solids or gas), monitoring the inventory levels in the storage tanks results in much more efficient delivery routes while eliminating run-outs.  Tank monitoring benefits the customer and the supplier.  The customer no longer has to worry about running out of inventory or making calls to the supplier.  The supplier knows how much capacity is available in the tanks and can schedule more efficient delivery runs.  In these scenarios, it isn’t about more efficient driving plans for getting from stop to stop, but rather avoiding unnecessary stops all together.  By monitoring inventory levels, companies can stop their weekly or monthly deliveries to a tank that is half full, and only make the trip once a full load can be delivered.  Additionally, by monitoring inventory, early run-out conditions can be predicted and emergency deliveries in response to customer calls, which are commonly the least efficient routes a company has, are avoided.  

If the delivery vehicles can be tracked via GPS, the emergency scenario is even better, since the closest vehicle can be directed to the customer in need.  In this fashion ad hoc routing can take advantage of on demand route optimization.

Likewise in maintenance businesses, monitoring the status of equipment remotely ensures the driver has the right tools and supplies on the truck before going onsite.  In many cases preventative maintenance can be performed when convenient to avoid an urgent run due to a failure.

Focusing on the destinations to which the vehicle are headed rather than just where they are currently located can help make significant improvements in both planning more efficient routes and reducing the number of unnecessary routes.   By looking beyond the fleet itself, pulling back to a more holistic view of the business, companies see much greater optimization for their businesses.

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