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Down is Dirty - Collision Avoidance and Downtime Reduction

23.04.2020 Fleet Management,Collision Avoidance

One of a fleet manager’s most important goals is boosting fleet efficiency. A cost-effective fleet means you’re squeezing every dollar out of your budget and contributing to company profitability – both signs of a great manager.  

There are a lot of challenges to this efficiency, downtime being among your main enemies. As you well know, downtime means you have an expensive piece of equipment that’s just “sitting-around” not helping you and basically acting as a drag on your budget. Or, as one expert put it, “If the wheels don’t turn, you don’t earn.” 

Mike Antich, writing in Fleet Financials, notes that he has heard downtime loss estimates ranging from $448 to $760 a day. Serious money—and that may not even cover the indirect costs.  

Unscheduled downtime can lead to cancelled or late deliveries. The impact of this will vary from fleet to fleet, but in some cases the fleet will need to pay penalties for late delivery and in other cases loads may spoil, leading to further losses. For some fleets this means missing service times, important appointments or critical maintenance work that can lead to even further issues. Of course, you also have to take into account intangible losses like loss of customer trust and earning a reputation for poor service.  

Managers also need to account for wasted man-hours. Unscheduled downtime can mean a driver is sitting around and waiting for a replacement vehicle, on the company’s dime or, in case of a collision dealing with the aftermath. An analysis conducted by Automotive Fleet, showed that each day a salaried driver was unable to work cost the fleet almost $640.  

 These figures highlight the critical importance for fleets to avoid downtime, particularly unscheduled downtime. Of course, by its nature, unscheduled downtime is the result of something unexpected, so how do you prepare? 

First, we need to look at the causes of unscheduled downtime. There are really two main culprits: 1) breakdowns and 2) collisions. While neither of these situations is completely in your control, there are steps you can take to reduce their impact. 

It seems almost too obvious, but the best step you can take to avoid breakdowns is to implement a robust maintenance schedule. Somewhat ironically, taking your vehicles out of service for maintenance may mean more downtime but scheduled downtime is far preferable to having a vehicle break down while on the road.  

Fleet Financials also emphasizes the importance of predictive maintenance, analyzing which engine components are ending their lifecycle so they can be replaced right before they give out. 

Collisions are possibly even a greater threat to fleet efficiency. Of course, as with breakdowns there is the cost of repairs and the time the vehicle is in the shop which, depending on the severity may well require a long repair time. By their nature, they will be far more of a drain on resources particularly on drivers who may have to speak to police and insurance investigators, may need to testify in court or may even be injured. Even if the fleet is not paying for this time, they’re still losing productive work hours. 

 While collisions may seem to be unavoidable, there are, in fact, steps you can take to seriously reduce collision rates and the subsequent downtime they cause. These include driver coaching, incentives for safe driving or disincentives for being involved in collisions. 

However, what may be the most effective step you can take to reduce collisions is to install collision avoidance systems in fleet vehicles. Collisions avoidance systems can be retrofit into almost any fleet vehicle and alert drivers to potential collisions, giving them time to avoid or mitigate a crash. 

The Mobileye collision avoidance system, for example, provides drivers five types of alerts: 

  • Headway Monitoring (Following Time) – displays the amount of time to the vehicle in front and alerts when time becomes critically short 
  • Forward Collision Warning – a forward collision is imminent with a car, truck or motorcycle; 
  • Lane Departure Warning – the vehicle is deviating from its lane without signaling 
  • Pedestrian Detection – a collision is imminent with a pedestrian or bicycle 
  • Speed Limit Warning – alerts when the vehicle is exceeding the posted speed limit 
  • Blind Spot Warning – designed primarily for trucks, buses and other large vehicles, are equipped with extra cameras that scan these vehicles blind spots for potential collisions. 

In addition, a collision avoidance system seems to function as an on-the-job coach. Experience indicates that by warning drivers when they are entering a dangerous situation, the system encourages them to avoid these situations in the first place.  

During a recent study by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), the behavior of drivers using collision avoidance systems was studied. In the first stage, alerts triggered by drivers were measured, but the drivers were unaware of the alerts. In the second stage, drivers were notified when alerts were triggered. During the second stage – when drivers were notified of alerts – the number of alerts dropped anywhere from 30-70% and 62% of drivers reported that they felt the system had improved their driving.   

This is important for fleet owners looking to increase fleet efficiency by decreasing the downtime caused by collisions. Collisions that can put your vehicles out of service, waste your drivers’ time and hurt your reputation.  For a company like Ambu-Trans Ambulette, installing a collision avoidance system helped in reducing collision related losses by an astounding 91%. 

Contact us for more information on how Mobileye can help you keep your fleet on the road and contributing to the bottom line. 

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