Managing smaller truck fleets

When transport is not a company’s core business, there are many benefits to be gained by professionally managing and controlling a small fleet of company-owned trucks.

In many companies, management skills are often focused on the core business, and the operation of the delivery trucks is regarded as a necessary evil.

To learn more about the tools and systems that are needed to professionally control and manage a small fleet of trucks, I went to see Donald Chalmers – a director of
T and I Chalmers Engineering, who, in my opinion, runs a well-managed small fleet of delivery trucks.

When I asked Chalmers what had motivated him to apply more focus, attention and control to the company’s small fleet of medium-duty trucks, he explained that when he took over the portfolio, he found that the company was experiencing too many vehicle breakdowns, due to the aging fleet. This was causing deliveries to arrive late and was affecting the company’s customer-satisfaction rating.

His first task was to set about establishing a fleet-replacement policy for the company – and replacing the older vehicles at the right time. “This has definitely paid dividends. We are now able to obtain very good trade-in prices for the vehicles, especially as they have a complete service record and are still in a good condition,” Chalmers says.

To increase the control and management of this new fleet, his next task was to install an electronic vehicle-tracking system. “This has proved to be an excellent management tool and has been well worth the investment,” Chalmers states. The electronic vehicle-tracking system also alerts him immediately if a driver is speeding or applying the vehicle’s brakes too harshly.

“We cannot afford not to have control over the drivers’ movements and their driving style,” Chalmers says. “Knowing exactly where the trucks are at any time has also improved our vehicle productivity and customer satisfaction.”

Dashcams are fitted to each truck to protect the company against possible liability in the event of an accident.

Drivers are also encouraged to ensure that their trucks are serviced at the correct service intervals at the franchise dealers, and there is a back-up system in place to ensure that no service is missed.

The pressure of the tyres is also checked regularly, resulting in a reduction of tyre replacement costs. Fuel consumption is checked daily and any excessive fuel consumption is immediately investigated and action is taken to rectify the problem.

Strict controls are applied to the renewal of the driving licences and professional driving permits to ensure that they are renewed well before the expiry date. Drivers are also audited and tested once a year.

Chalmers adds: “The trucks are washed by the drivers every morning before they leave the premises, which, in turn, has improved our company’s image.”

Chalmers sets a perfect example for companies, whose core business is not trucking, of how to best operate a fleet of delivery trucks, lower transportation costs, improve customer satisfaction and reduce the number of vehicle breakdowns and accidents.

Published by

Vic Oliver

Vic Oliver is one of this country’s most respected commercial vehicle industry authorities, and has been in this industry for over 50 years. Before joining the FOCUS team, he spent 15 years with Nissan Diesel (now UD Trucks), 11 years with Busaf and seven years with International.
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  1. For a small business that do trucking as a side hustle. It is hard for our logistics to manage our truck fleets. Great informative article here thanks! Will take note of what you have said here.

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