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Fleet wars: winning by the liter

After years of sustained cost pressure from high oil prices, the transportation industry gained some much-needed relief when prices plummeted in 2015 and 2016.  As crude oil prices fell sharply, the cost of haulage worldwide also dropped. And while the industry appreciated that turn of fortune, it also recognizes that it’s not likely to happen again – or to continue indefinitely. Thus, fleets strive to lower fuel consumption, one of their most significant operating parameters. With a proper Fleet Management System (FMS) and clever action plans, some fleets are saving millions a year. 


Commercial fleets are among the leading beneficiaries of the current oil price trend. The sector has enjoyed significant positive externalities by easing commodity prices all around the globe. But with the recent geopolitical efforts to curb oil production, everyone is asking when the barrel price rollercoaster will go up again.


Asymmetric competition

Of greatest concern to truck fleets is the asymmetrical nature of competition. Widely varying regulatory standards across countries put fleets from developed economies at a disadvantage when competing with those from emerging markets. 

Less rigorous technical and safety standards, as well as different labor costs in less developed economies, create significant performance gaps. This puts pressure on fleet operators to find the optimal combination of investment, process, and behavioral guidelines which will keep them both compliant and competitive.

As a result, operators fiercely pursue any opportunity to improve performance, finely tuning fuel consumption, tire replacement and maintenance cost, among other indicators. 


In the blind spot

When it comes to fleets, there is certain danger in the “blind spot,” those areas where lack of information can hurt business. Year over year increases in operating costs – in spite of the price reduction of fuel – generate heated internal discussions regarding cost control. 

Although many experienced managers are able to assess areas that need improvement, it can be difficult to see the big picture when operating dozens of trucks with little control over daily events. Fleet operators need a wider perspective to implement sensible measures that help drive KPIs forward. 

According to a study by the Technical University of Berlin, operators express the need to understand the reasons and drivers behind their cost structure. This is where fleet management systems (FMS) make a difference, providing managers with important data.


Big data, big bottom-line

Like any monitoring solution, FMS programs generate context-neutral data. This data must be linked to processes, behaviors, and changes in order to provide meaningful correlations and a sound basis for optimization action plans. In other words, the large datasets must be filtered, processed, and illustrated in a way that supports decision processes. 

Even when they do make use of fleet management systems, many organizations struggle to turn data into actionable plans. The key is having the right skills to interpret and fine-tune the operational parameters gathered by the sensors monitoring millions of kilometers of driving time. 

More to the point, understanding how to benchmark the industry and compare individual performance to the current state of the art is critically important. This is why fleets need a reliable partner to help them capitalize on the potential of their FMS. Simple hardware providers give way to partners who deliver data as well as professional counsel on how to leverage it to advance business results.   


Fleet saves 8.1 l / 100 km fuel – from 36.6 l to 28.5 l


This process is definitely closer to a marathon than a sprint; however, the process starts to show impressive results after just a few continuous improvement cycles. One of the most well-known fleets in Europe, Bartkowiak, entered the race for efficiency in 2008, as they noticed a soaring average fuel consumption of 36.6L/100km in their fleet of brand new trucks.

Seven years later their “Tomorrow is today” optimization project, which they implemented in cooperation with FMS provider and automotive industry leaders WABCO and Transics, is reaping impressive results.  

With 10.6 l / 100 km fuel savings for single optimized trucks, and significant reduction of tire and maintenance costs, the fleet has been able to grow in a very competitive market while increasing its bottom-line.



Bartkowiak develops nine-measure plan to improve fleet

The nine-measure action plan might seem simple, but it took a committed effort of data processing, cause-effect analysis, and calibration from both the beneficiary and the expert partner to get the maximum effect. Each fleet has a different operational pattern, which means that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. This is where WABCO and Transics partner with fleets to provide the right mix of data, driver training, and consulting services to really make the most of such an FMS implementation project.

Like any business initiative, this journey wasn’t always easy for the fleet. After extensive deliberation, Bartkowiak committed to improving its operations by working WABCO (2013) and Transics (2014). In the beginning, operators and drivers were skeptical about the new sensors mounted on the trucks, as well as the relevance of the millions of datasets they would generate. Then, as the first results started showing, it became clear that many actions were needed to improve the fleet’s fuel consumption and maintenance costs.

The exact measures and calibrations were not always apparent – it was WABCO’s expertise, complementary consulting services and training products, as well as the very insightful and dedicated project leader, Andreas Manke, that enabled Bartkowiak to reached its goals. Better yet, their drivers say they have discovered areas of further improvement and will continue to fine tune their operations to reach new heights of performance.


FMS consulting drives fleets forward

Bartkowiak, like many other fleets, has even bigger ambitions and isn’t resting on the initial success of their optimization plan. They realize that ultimately, the winners will be the fleets that not only endure but thrive in an increasingly volatile market. And just as in racing, the winning margins are getting narrower by the year, making the challenge all the more demanding. Smart FMS products, combined with the right consulting services and driver learning programs, will enable the best fleets to reach the top – and stay there. 


WABCO Academy and Transics offer integrated FMS services

If your fleet business is looking to make significant cost improvements, then consider the integrated offering of FMS tools, trailer accessories, driver training, and consulting services offered by WABCO Group companies: WABCOTransics and WABCO Academy. For more information visit WABCO Academy


About WABCO 

WABCO (NYSE: WBC) is a leading global supplier of technologies and services that improve the safety, efficiency and connectivity of commercial vehicles. Founded nearly 150 years ago, WABCO continues to pioneer breakthrough innovations for advanced driver assistance, braking, stability control, suspension, transmission automation and aerodynamics. Partnering with the transportation industry as it maps a route toward autonomous driving; WABCO also uniquely connects trucks, trailers, cargo, drivers, business partners and fleet operators through advanced fleet management systems and mobile solutions. WABCO reported sales of $2.8 billion in 2016. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, WABCO has 13,000 employees in 40 countries. For more information, visitwww.wabco-auto.com.

About WABCO Academy

WABCO Academy doesn’t teach theories or ‘what-ifs’. Our philosophy is about sharing practical knowledge and information gained from our years of experience in a way that you can benefit from today.Launched in 2006, WABCO Academy represents WABCO’s ongoing commitment to providing professional training solutions to the commercial vehicle sector. As the vehicle control systems become more complex, there is an increasing demand for efficient, practical and flexible training solutions - a challenge that WABCO has faced.

As a competence center, we are always striving to meet the diverse training requirements of our international customer base in an optimal manner. Our training programs are offered in multiple languages, and they can be completed in one of our 18 training centers worldwide or in-house. Would you like to study in your own free time, at home, or in a location of your choice? No problem, WABCO Academy thought about your needs for flexibility. Our WABCO Online Academy e-learning courses are always available in several languages, including German, Chinese and Russian.

Our solutions are flexible and efficient, and they are guaranteed to improve your productivity and support your business' success. Testimony to this are our 190,000 customers worldwide, who have successfully completed WABCO Academy trainings in 45 countries.


About Transics

Transics develops and commercialises software, hardware and services for the transport industry fleet operators that lead to more efficient and cost-effective processes, to more productive, safer and ecological driving and to improved customer services.

Our offer includes Fleet Management Systems (FMS) and services for truck, driver, trailer, cargo and subcontractor management. FMS is a high contributor to accomplish competitive advantage in direct and indirect cost savings, such as fuel savings, driving distance saved, driver hours optimised, communication cost savings, regulatory compliance, less staff turnover and fewer lost drivers. It also leads to higher customer satisfaction: fewer late arrivals, new customers and customer retention.

Since 1991, our core business has been developing Fleet Management Systems (FMS) compliant with the needs of the transport industry sector. Thanks to years of experience, thorough R&D efforts and an intensive focus on the customer experience, Transics has become the leading European player in its sector and is active worldwide. Our collaborators are seen by our customers as an extension of their own organisation.


Alexandra Sarlea, Digital Learning Program Manager, WABCO Academy, WABCO


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