A ride

I went back to my roots this month and spent 22 hours in a truck – non stop, except for the obligatory pie (sorry log book) stops. Thanks to the Chilean ash cloud I was stranded in Auckland and, wanting to get home sooner rather than later, I called a customer and begged a ride home on an interisland truck. I’ve always found the difference between a transport manager’s outlook and that of his drivers, fascinating. During this trip I got a top up of the driver’s views.

The first, was talking to a passing truck driver as I waited at the truck wash next to Auckland airport for my lift to the depot. We got to talking about the GPS in his vehicle and he proudly told me that he could drive a truck and trailer or a semi trailer all the way around the Coromandel without setting off any accelerometer alerts associated with the GPS system. He realised long ago (and he had several years experience by the look of his rapidly whitening hair) that he could save far more time by spending a couple of extra minutes  being courteous and helpful with the staff at each of his deliveries, than he ever could on the road. He can now arrive to make his deliveries, the staff are ready, the store is organised and the delivery happens smoothly and straight away. A saving of 10 – 30 mins like this is almost impossible to make up on the road – especially on the Coromandel.

A cash saving

You may have been following the global push to improve the fuel efficiency of new trucks. Scania have just completed a fuel duel in Australia. Matching two “identical’ vehicles loaded to 59 tonnes and driving them from Sydney to Melbourne and back. On the outbound leg one truck was speed limited to 90km/h, the other to 100km/h. On the return leg, the speed limiters were reversed. There are a few stats to support their conclusion that if a truck was running this trip 5 times per week, by reducing the max speed to 90km/h (from 100km/h) a saving of $10,000 in fuel was possible over a year.

I have to say after my experiences in a truck last week, I have discovered that a speed limiter means nothing if a driver knows how to get around it, so the message still stands; all improvements start with your drivers. Help them to understand the lesson at the top of this article – steady on the road, efficient in the stops: your costs will fall and your customer service will improve.

A threat

The NZ Herald this morning carries an interesting story. A young man had his car stolen. He was a student of computing systems. He had built his own GPS system and installed it in his car. He called the police and was able to give them a running commentary on the location of his car as his system updated every 40 seconds. I’ve heard similar stories before. What is interesting is that the police feedback is that similar cases involving commercial vehicles have not been successful, despite having GPS tracking, as the delay of up to 5 minutes between GPS updates was not good enough to get to the truck whilst it was on the move.

There are a number of factors to consider between a one off student invention and a commercial system, but as ever, the new comers will always challenge the status quo and those slow to respond will fall victim to the old duelling truism: there’s the quick and the dead.

And finally…

A big thank you to all who helped to get me home last week – it really was much appreciated. A friendly reminder to the GPS company whose system was in the truck; we are still waiting for the login to get access to the data so I can provide some feedback to the fleet owner about his trucks. He will get an even better service than ever as not only will I have the data but I was also sitting in the truck at the time. He can then get even more value from your system by understanding how it can be used to get the fuel savings talked about above. A signed authorisation from the truck owner is sitting on your desk as usual… how hard can it be to help out your customers?


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