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Blog October 2023 Updated May 2024

how to reduce fleet costs with comparative testing

Against a backdrop of inflation, rising fuel costs, and supply chain issues, the pressure is on for fleet managers to select the most cost-effective products. Comparative testing is one way to identify the best parts for your fleet.

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Bob Hausler

Bob Hausler

Vice President Transport, North America, AMCS

Every day new products are launched onto the market, each one claiming to be better than the last. Vendors, meanwhile, are working hard to ensure you buy their ‘new’ and ‘improved’ product rather than the one you currently use. With so much marketing out there and a busy fleet to run, it can be difficult to make sense of the various product claims.

Comparative product testing is one strategy you can use to cut through the jargon and validate performance for yourself. It can help you establish a product’s performance, safety, quality, and compliance with established standards. Enabling you to determine exactly how products will perform in your application and which parts will provide the best overall value.

What’s driving your parts purchasing strategy?

If spiralling costs are a major factor when sourcing parts for your fleet, you’re not alone. Annual parts costs are on the rise, driven largely by rising inflation but with supply chain issues also compounding the problem.

In a recent survey by the The Motor Ombudsman, for example, almost half (48%) of all independent garages and franchise dealer workshops said they face rising costs, with three in five commenting that paying more for replacement components due to shortages and inflation is an issue.

In a bid to offset higher prices, fleet managers are under pressure to choose the right replacement parts, however, with a large number of potential suppliers in the market, making decisions can be confusing. Not to mention risky, since the wrong choice could lead to premature parts failure and unplanned downtime, all of which erodes profitability.

Calculating the true cost of components

Unfortunately, it’s not just the cost of emergency repairs that can add up. Fuel generally accounts for around 30% of a fleet’s operating costs, so any product that impacts fuel consumption has the potential to significantly increase your running costs.

Selecting components that support fuel efficiency is imperative, yet virtually every cost-saving component comes at a price. In order to justify your choice of product, it’s a good idea to investigate the various options thoroughly, ensuring that the benefits of any product you select justify its cost.

How can comparative product testing establish value?

One of the best ways to establish costs and estimate savings is by testing new products in a working fleet, rather than accepting the claims made by equipment manufacturers or component suppliers. This will allow you to verify capabilities such as fuel saving in situ.

Not only will this simplify your decision-making process, but it also ensures that any calculations on product performance are based on the conditions specific to your fleet. For instance, maybe you run a fleet of waste trucks making multiple stops every day? Or perhaps you manage a fleet of delivery trucks travelling hundreds of miles in a single journey? Selecting the ‘right’ part will depend on the vehicle and the application in question.

A guide to comparative testing with AMCS Fleet Maintenance

To help you identify the cost-saving potential of new parts, AMCS Fleet Maintenance offers a simple way to conduct comparative tests between your existing product choice and any new alternatives. 

Thanks to functionality built directly into the software, you can easily implement controlled tests, utilising analysis tools to help you assess products and make the best selection based on the results.

The following guide demonstrates how this process works to unlock hidden cost savings:

  1. Document the test
    For any test that you are going to conduct, you will need to start by documenting and identifying the products you want to test, the time frame for the study, and the results you are testing for. Imagine, for example, that you want to compare two tyre brands, looking specifically at tread life and fuel savings over the course of one year, in relation to acquisition costs. 

  2. Identify vehicle groups 
    Using AMCS Fleet Maintenance software, you can create Unit Sets identifying the two groups of vehicles or equipment that you will be tracking in the study. Create one set with your existing product and another unit set for the new product.
    Remember, when creating the test, it is important to identify vehicles or equipment with the same attributes to generate meaningful results. For the best data, the units you are comparing for each product should be of the same year, make, model and application. Other variables to consider include seasonal and geographical changes or changes in assignment of the units, all of which can impact the end results. 

  3. Install test products 
    Once you have identified your target vehicles, install the new ‘test’ product in the first group of units and install a new ‘existing’ product for a clean start in the other units. By minimising variables in this way, you can ensure that any test results are more likely to yield useful data on potential fleet improvements. 

  4. Track maintenance and operating costs 
    Now, let AMCS Fleet Maintenance do the hard work for you as it automatically tracks maintenance and operating costs for each unit set. The system provides a straightforward way to collect and analyse user-defined data as a basis for in-depth reporting and data-driven decisions. For example, this enables you to run vehicle tracking reports on equipment utilisation, fuel consumption, overall operating costs, or cost per mile. 

  5. Analyse the results 
    Finally, create a tailored report using the Search and Select feature to examine costs in depth. The system interrogates costs by analysing detailed Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards (VMRS) against the benchmarks you have established for the study. This provides clear evidence at a glance as to which product works best for your fleet, looking specifically at criteria that matter to you.

This easy to use tool is designed to simplify comparative product testing, ensuring you invest in the best value parts for your fleet. It’s just one way in which AMCS Fleet Maintenance can help you manage the lifecycle of an unlimited number of asset types driven by key operational and performance information.

Click here for more ideas on how the AMCS Fleet Maintenance solution can improve your productivity while lowering costs.

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