The time has come, and fleet managers need to start focusing on new metrics. ClearObject, an IoT solutions provider, explains how electric vehicles will transform the way fleet managers think about which metrics they should care about.
The Shift to Electric Vehicles Ushers in New Fleet Management Software and New Metrics
Reliability, uptime, TCO. Reliability, uptime, TCO. For the last 20+ years, there’s truly been no good reason for anybody to ask fleet managers what metrics they’re focused on. You’d almost certainly get the same answer each and every time.
For as long as fleets can remember, the calculations that resulted in uptime and TCO (total cost of ownership) have consisted primarily of fuel, tires, and brakes and what effects reactive, preventative, and predictive maintenance can have on uptime. It’s been very clear.
The digital transformation to web-based fleet management systems in the 1990s didn’t change what fleet managers cared about. The introduction of mobile phones didn’t change it. Amazon didn’t change it (for once).
The introduction of BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles), is what’s changing everything. Now that the wave of electric vehicles taking over the industry is undeniable, fleet managers are going to need the best digital products and fleet management software to monitor the new age of electric vehicle metrics.
With Electric Vehicles, you no longer have the luxury of being able to easily fill up your tank while driving on a route. Commonly referred to as “range anxiety,” drivers and fleet managers now have to wonder whether the ‘fuel’ in their vehicle can sustain their entire route. The days of managing this on clipboards are over. Using digital products, fleet managers now need to monitor their vehicles’ state of charge, estimated battery range, fleet charging capacity, location of charging stations, regenerative braking, and on top of all of that, the weather can affect your electric vehicle’s range by up to 54%.
Of course, historically, fleets have had to take into account the age of the truck, tire condition, maintenance, route type, cargo, and more in order to assure they’re getting the best fuel efficiency. But the question has been “how efficient?” for the longest time and not “can it be efficient?”. Plus, all of those factors still apply to electric vehicles. Until more nation-wide fast charging or battery swapping is available, there will still be the question of, “can my EV complete that route?.”
This is where a new age of fleet management systems will play a large role in the everyday lives of fleet stakeholders. The decision of whether your fleet is connected or not will be a thing of the past. All fleets will need to be connected, enabled by advanced telematics systems so that a fleet manager can log into their fleet management web application in the morning and make sure all of their vehicles are at 100% charge, conduct advanced route optimization planning, monitor charging efficiency, and even coach the new age of electric vehicle drivers on how to most efficiently drive their EVs. This technology is leading to a direct feedback loop to equipment manufacturers who can now assess which components are pulling the most energy and re-engineer vehicles that end up saving every fleet money on their bottom line. Live streaming vehicle data even enables real-time feedback for drivers who might not be using their regenerative braking to its full potential or end up being a little pedal heavy on the highway so they can increase their range on the job.
New metrics to focus on: battery efficiency, kW/hour, battery range, charging effectiveness, weather’s effect on battery, charging capacity, utility rates.
Although fuel presents a bit more of a challenge, there’s some truly phenomenal news for the maintenance teams. Brake pads and brake systems are getting a longer lifespan. With electric vehicles, new regenerative braking technology is changing the way fleet managers think about slowing their vehicles down. Slowing down is not all negative now that these new systems can recapture some of that energy and store it back in their battery systems.
But how does this change a fleet manager’s metrics? Now fleets have a new performance metric to evaluate their drivers on and coach them to improve. Now fleets can adjust their preventative maintenance schedules to account for longer brake lifespan. Now fleets can use the energy conserved by regenerative braking to adjust their range estimations for certain routes. These are all things that fleet stakeholders have not had to grapple with until now; but they will be happy to monitor how much fuel (money) they are regaining just from slowing down.
New innovative fleet management software technology and telematics systems will enable the modern day fleet managers to monitor these key braking metrics, improve fleet efficiency, reward high performing drivers, and adjust their maintenance schedules accordingly.
New metrics to focus on: driver regenerative braking performance, energy produced from regenerative braking, highway vs city driving effects on regenerative braking, regenerative braking effects on battery range, regenerative braking efficiency, new brake lifespan.
It can’t be argued that driver satisfaction and performance is becoming a larger topic every year. According to JOC, the number of for-hire truck drivers dropped by 65,700 from October 2019 to October 2020. Shelley Simpson, Executive Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer, and President of Highway Services at J.B. Hunt Transport Services is quoted saying that, “Pay can fix the short-term problem, but long-term we have to change the job.” One of the main opportunities to improve the life of vehicle drivers is to introduce new technologies to make their jobs better. If fleets can increase drive time and earnings for their drivers through new technology, it will give them a competitive advantage over other fleets battling for the same drivers and even recruiting new drivers to join up.
The best way to do this is by decreasing the downtime for vehicles. A case study presented by Eric McCann, Mid-East Fleet Manager of Bimbo Bakeries at the Fleet Forward Experience in 2020 showed that 23 trucks that were currently in production at the time experienced 100% uptime in their over 17,000 miles driven so far. The feedback from their drivers was incredible. This goes to show that electric vehicles are already delivering superior uptime to internal combustion equivalents. With downtime under much more control, what other metrics can fleets focus on to improve the driver experience?
Enabled by advancing technology in this space, fleets can now focus on a variety of new metrics other than downtime. Dale Willis, the Vice President of Data Services at Netradyne, is quoted in Forbes stating, “(Netradyne’s) camera and AI-based analytics system, used to improve driver safety, is appreciated by truck drivers.” Although it may seem like this is a bit “big brother,” drivers will listen to the numbers when it comes to safety. Digital systems like this can monitor events such as whether or not a driver appropriately stops at a stop sign or not. Netradyne boasts a 60% decrease in improper stop sign events after just 2 months. Metrics like these have never been available to fleets before. This is great for the fleet, but what’s in it for the drivers? Drivers can now receive the necessary praise for positive driving events that would have never been noticed before. An example of this is that the system can log events such as a driver adjusting his speed to let another incoming vehicle merge onto the highway. What was once a kind gesture that was only recognized by those two drivers, can now get reported out to the fleet for positive reinforcement and driver rewards.
In the end, both drivers and fleets are aligned in that they want to improve their performance and safety. Digital technology like camera monitoring and telematics can now be presented to fleet managers and drivers through new digital products. If done correctly, these insights can be used in a positive way to increase the driver satisfaction and improve fleets’ bottom lines.
New metrics to focus on: a variety of unsafe events, a variety of positive driving events, incentive-based driver rewards, driver environmental impact.
A New Age Of Metrics & Digital Technology Enablement
Fuel, brakes, and driver metrics are just the start of all that is going to change with the introduction of commercial EVs. Electric vehicles are here to stay, and frankly, here to win. The benefits of commercial EVs are undeniable and the return on investment is starting to make a whole lot of sense. Fleets and software technology companies are already keying in on the changing industry, and the metrics that fleet managers need to monitor are getting a revamp. With states like California requiring all new vans and trucks to be electric or hydrogen-powered starting in 2024, fleet managers are going to need the best digital products and fleet management software to monitor the new age of electric vehicle metrics.
ClearObject is an IoT solutions integrator, founded in 2010 and headquartered in Fishers, Indiana. The company uses Google Cloud, IoT, and digital analytics to create innovative platform and development solutions for companies in a variety of industries, including automotive companies seeking fleet-level improvements. ClearObject uses design thinking strategies, a user-centric approach to product development, to create effective solutions that allow clients to access and leverage data as efficiently as possible. ClearObject’s solutions team of dedicated developers, engineers, project managers, and IoT solution managers work together to understand user needs and project outcomes. A design thinking approach allows the team to develop solutions that improve ROI and make wide-scale adoption possible. Follow ClearObject on Facebook and Twitter for more information.