Strategic decision making relies on data, and business leaders want to know they can trust the information they receive. The 2017 U.S. CEO Outlook published by KPMG reported that 49 percent of CEOs said they are concerned about the integrity of the data they receive.
Penske Truck Leasing collects a vast amount of information from its vehicles, which can be used to help fleets improve fuel economy, properly spec vehicles, improve operations and shape driver behavior. The data comes directly from a heavy-duty truck’s engine control module (ECM), and Penske executives have verified its accuracy.
“We did a fuel study, measuring everything from a fuel economy standpoint, such as road speeds and how much time we drove and the consumption of fuel,” said Mike Hasinec, vice president of maintenance support for Penske Truck Leasing.
The data was compared to information coming from the ECM, and Penske found that the data was 95 to 96 percent accurate. “As long as you can read the tea leaves, you can make a lot of good decisions,” Hasinec said.
Penske compiles data and presents it to its customers in a usable fashion. The ECM data can be used in several ways.
Improve Fuel Economy
The reports Penske compiles include several line items that provide insight into fuel economy. Those data points include the gear in which drivers operate as well as how often the driver uses cruise control. “Most people will tell you if you use cruise control, you’ll get better fuel economy,” Hasinec said, adding that fleets could use the data to coach drivers that don’t use cruise control.
Penske tracks the percentage of idle time. “Idle is literally a waste of fuel,” Hasinec said, adding that fleets can work with drivers who have a high idle time to change driver behavior.
Penske’s reports provide information on speeding, and fleets can create the bands they want to monitor. Drivers exceeding those bands could benefit from individual coaching.
The reports also capture information on hard braking, which most OEMs consider a deceleration rate of seven miles-per-hour per second. “If you decelerate at seven miles-per-hour per second, you’re on the brakes pretty hard and probably tailgating,” Hasinec said, adding that fleets can use the information to coach drivers.
Spec the Right Vehicle
The ECM reports average drive load. “That is how hard the vehicle is working, and that tells you about the application,” Hasinec said.
The average drive load could vary based on the route or the weight of the truck, but the numbers can provide insight into whether or not the vehicle is well-suited for the application. “You can look at the data and figure out very quickly if we have the vehicle set up right from a road-speed standpoint,” Hasinec said.
Data on engine utilization provide insight into the duration of the trip and the amount of time the vehicle was active. The information could help uncover inefficiencies and offer insight into whether the asset was being used to the best of its ability.
By digging into the data, a private fleet could uncover, for example, if a driver was delayed when stopping for fuel at a truck stop. If that is the case, Penske customers could choose to fuel at Penske locations. “There aren’t the same distractions at a Penske facility as there are at a truck stop,” Hasinec said.
The engines in Class 8 tractors can have as many as 1,000 fault codes, but only 20 to 30 of them are mission critical, Hasinec said. Capturing and deciphering the fault codes can allow Penske and its customers to schedule repairs to maximize uptime and keep trucks moving.