When managing a fleet that has vehicles of the same year, make, and model, it’s easy to assume that they will perform similarly. However, reality often presents a different story. Variations in vehicle service history and reliability can lead to significant disparities in maintenance costs, downtime and even safety. This is where benchmarking comes into play.
Benchmarking involves comparing the performance metrics of similar vehicles within your fleet, enabling you to identify outliers — those vehicles that consistently perform either exceptionally well or poorly compared to similar vehicles.
Identifying Reliability Outliers
Reliability is the backbone of any fleet. Vehicles that continually break down or require excessive maintenance not only drain financial resources but also disrupt operations. To identify reliability outliers, fleets can follow these steps:
- Data collection: Start by collecting comprehensive vehicle service records. These records should include vehicle maintenance history, preventive maintenance (PM) schedules, repair data and incident reports.
- Segmentation: Group vehicles by their year, make and model. This creates a level playing field for comparison.
- Key metrics: Key performance indicators (KPIs) are a great way to understand how the fleet is…well… performing. KPIs for fleet managers depend a lot on daily operations and fleet needs, but for the purposes of benchmarking, your best bet is to analyze key reliability metrics, such as mean time between failures (MTBF) or number of breakdowns over a specific time frame.
- Benchmarking: Compare the performance of similar vehicles. Look for trends, identify outliers with unusual failure rates and investigate the causes.
Using these insights can help inform future procurement decisions and estimations. If a particular vehicle consistently outperforms its peers, consider acquiring more of that model. Conversely, if outliers underperform, evaluate whether it’s time to phase them out or reconsider your maintenance strategy.
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Service Cost Benchmarking
Service costs can quickly spiral out of control, affecting a fleet’s financial health. By benchmarking service costs, fleets can:
- Analyze total costs: Utilize fleet solutions like fleet management software (FMS) to track and consolidate fleet data from various sources. FMS automatically aggregates data and generates configurable reports, simplifying data analysis. This provides a comprehensive view of total service costs, including parts, labor and downtime.
- Analyze cost per mile: Calculate the cost per mile for each vehicle within a specific category. Identify outliers with exceptionally high service — and fuel — costs. Using FMS, cost per mile is automatically calculated for you, so you can spot outliers with ease.
- Source the cause of issues: Investigate why certain vehicles have higher service costs. Is it due to an aging fleet, inadequate maintenance practices or simply because the vehicle is less reliable? Sometimes, you just get a lemon. Being able to source the cause of cost-inflating issues is essential for making data-driven decisions. FMS makes it easy to compare vehicle costs on two or more vehicles, with all data displayed on one screen.
Fleets can use these insights to adjust PM schedules for improved performance and useful life, surface and correct damaging driver behavior issues and even consider alternatives like outsourcing specific maintenance tasks. Fleet expense tracking and benchmarking insights can also help you more accurately estimate budgets, including proper allocation of resources to higher cost centers.
The Role of Fleet Management Software
Benchmarking can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially in large fleets with diverse assets. This is where FMS becomes an invaluable resource, because it automates data collection, consolidation and analysis, saving time, enhancing the accuracy of the benchmarking process and providing fleets with configurable reports that highlight key fleet metrics. This allows for swift identification of outliers in reliability and service costs so fleets can make proactive decisions that positively impact performance and profitability.
Benchmarking is an indispensable tool for evaluating the reliability and service costs of vehicles within your fleet. It helps identify outliers, informs procurement decisions, and optimizes maintenance strategies. When combined with FMS, benchmarking becomes a powerful asset for any fleet manager looking to maximize efficiency and cost savings. With the right data and insights, the road to a more efficient fleet becomes clearer than ever.
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