Autonomy and Scale

Fleet Manager

Apr 29, 2016

Powered by strength in diversity, the Daseke companies are collectively using a collaborative approach to adopting the best equipment and operating practices For Scott Wheeler, it's all about continuous improvement. "Our mission is to be better tomorrow than we are today," says Wheeler, executive vice president and corporate chief executive officer of Daseke Inc. "Daseke is more than a group of trucking companies. It is comprised of companies with strong management and highly personalized customer service skills, companies with excellent expansion opportunities and that offer diversity in a range of specialized equipment." A provider of flatbed, open-deck and specialized trucking capacity in North America, Daseke, headquartered in Addision, Texas, consists of Smokey Point Distributing, E.W. Wylie Corp., J. Grady Randolph, Central Oregon Truck Co., Lone Star Transportation, Bulldog Hiway Express, Hornady Transportation and The Boyd Companies, including Boyd Bros. Transportation, WTI Transport, Mid Seven Transportation and Boyd Logistics. Collectively, the Daseke companies offer services including truckload, partial load, over-dimensional and large project moves and full service logistics in 49 states plus Canada and Mexico. Open deck trailers operated by the carriers transport everything from wind turbine blades, aviation parts, construction and agricultural heavy equipment, structural steel, pressure tanks and oil field equipment to a variety of construction materials. Since 2008, Daseke has been building its operation by merging in what Wheeler refers to as "the best of the best." "We are a trucking company with different fleets that serve regional or industry vertical needs," he explains. "Our operations are analogous in that they are all terrific companies with terrific leaders. We are able to work together to identify best practices and ideas that can be implemented in all of our operations to bring more value to our customers." Through that collaboration, Wheeler notes, the Daseke companies also identify and eliminate things that have a less than optimal impact on each of the operations. "Our most impactful collaboration is unstructured and less formal," he adds. "We talk to each other regularly, not just in formal meetings, about things like specifications, technical issues and costs. We support each other's operations with a nationwide network of facilities and maintenance locations." Consolidated purchasing Daseke companies operate autonomously, but are increasingly finding synergies when it comes to consolidated purchasing. "That's especially true for consumables like fuel and tires, as well as truck wash and other services," Wheeler relates. "In terms of equipment, we are also accelerating that activity when it makes sense to take advantage of any benefits that come with a larger scale operation." Collectively, the Daseke companies operate more than 3,000 tractors and 6,000 trailers. About 1,100 of its tractors are International models. There are also 650 Kenworths, 200 Peterbilts and a mix of Freightliner, Mack and Volvo units. The trailer fleet primarily consists of Reitnouer, Fontaine, Great Dan and Utility models. "To a great extent, our customers' needs determine our specs," Wheeler states. "In one case, for example, we might be hauling large but lightweight aviation parts and in another we're handling extremely heavy loads. Additionally, beyond brand, model or specs, what are important to us are relationships. With suppliers it's not just transactional. We need to work together to find ling-term solutions." Consistent results Wheeler goes on to say that the makeup of Daseke, with its range of different applications, is a real advantage when it comes to testing ideas and technologies. "It's helpful to be able to try new things under replicable operating conditions and on a small scale," he points out, "and when we get consistent positive results roll it out across the rest of the company." A technology first tested at one of the Daseke companies and that is now being deployed in a growing part of all its operations is EpicVue in-cab satellite TV, now equipped on almost half of the Daseke companies' over-the-road tractors. "We often try to focus on thins that improve driver comfort," Wheeler explains. "EpicVue is an example of how someone inside our company found a way to boost driver retention and lower recruiting costs. Among drivers with EpicVue satellite TV at Boyd Bros., for example, the turnover rate is half what it is for drivers that have not opted for the system. For the carrier, the savings in recruiting expenses easily recoup the cost of installing the systems." Other evaluations have led to the decision to adopt solutions that help drivers operate safer, Wheeler reports. For instance, as a result of testing there are plans to spec Bendix Wingman Fusion safety technologies including its full stability and collision mitigation systems such as stationary vehicle braking, lane departure warning and overspeed alert and action solutions. Taking care of drivers "We also believe strongly that taking care of trucks is taking care of drivers," Wheeler continues. "We spec equipment based on our experience with things that keep trucks out of the shop for unscheduled events. That's also why preventative maintenance is a big part of our focus." Another part of Daseke's focus on drivers is aimed at improving fuel efficiency. "In open deck transportation, loads are never the same and aerodynamics are not as effective as they are on enclosed trailers," Wheeler says. "That means fuel economy is not consistent so the best way for us to improve MPG is to support and train drivers. "We already have some of the most skilled drivers in the industry," Wheeler adds. "That's critical to our success because our drivers are required to secure, load and unload cumbersome and often high-value loads in a wide variety of conditions." Daseke, Wheller relates, cultivates companies into a network of premier carriers. Each of the Daseke companies maintains its own autonomy, management team, operating functions, employee base and original branding and identity. "We all work together," Wheeler adds. "Don Daseke, our founder and chief executive officer, was once quoted as saying, 'we look for outstanding companies with strong management and safety cultures. We do not take over management, as there is strength in our diversity. We invest in people, and we're giving them an opportunity to be part of something bigger, together.' " See Original Article (Featured in Fleet Profile & Specs page 52)  
Quality truck fleet management with a good strategy is a vital element for success in the trucking industry. These systems are necessary for communication, and processes are sure to succeed. There’s no doubt that the best semi-truck fleet teams are those that are effectively and efficiently managed, making a great fleet manager worth their weight in gold — and then some!  But what is it exactly that makes a fleet manager great? It all comes down to a solid fleet management strategy and reliable semi-fleet processes. In fact, these are essential to finding both short- and long-term success. If you’re in charge of a semi-truck fleet and are looking to build a fail-proof truck fleet management strategy, you’re in the right place. We’re here to give you some tried-and-true tips and tricks for developing a solid plan. With a little hard work and the right strategy, you will surely see increased profits, fleet growth, and a happier, healthier, and more productive crew. Keep scrolling to learn more.

5 Things to Consider When Developing Your Truck Fleet Management Strategy

If you want to develop a quality truck fleet management strategy, make sure to consider the following:
  1. Invest in a Fleet Management System — You could be the most experienced and focused manager, but you will still have difficulties staying organized and productive without a quality truck fleet management system in place. Managers of old used to rely on elaborate systems involving paper spreadsheets, filing cabinets, and more to run their business, but there are simpler ways to get the job done. Join the digital age by digitizing your workflow and operations; you’ll find that processes are optimized, and your team’s performance is improved! A good system will allow you to keep track of the best routes, maintenance schedules, driver and vehicle efficiency, automating various tasks (such as routing and scheduling deliveries, billing and invoicing, sending jobs to drivers, etc.) and more so you can maximize the potential of your fleet.
  2. Find Ways to Cut Maintenance Costs — It’s no secret that the economy is in an exciting place right now. Inflation is on the rise, and maintenance costs are not exempt. A solid semi-truck fleet manager must prioritize finding ways to reduce costs. Taking a defensive, preventive approach to maintenance is key. Improving fleet efficiency and ensuring that your rigs and necessary equipment are in tip-top shape and ready to go can help you stay ahead of maintenance issues. Consider utilizing a good fleet management system that can tell you about the vehicles’ engines and other diagnostic features to help extend the life of your trucks. These tools can help you quickly identify any problems with your trucks and avoid issues down the road when they become more serious, thus cutting maintenance costs. Another way to reduce maintenance costs is to base your trucks’ service schedule on accurate engine usage hours instead of an arbitrary calendar. This helps to eliminate unnecessary repairs and potential hours and revenue lost, allowing you to make the most of your fleet while still taking great care of them.
  3. Find Ways to Save Money on Fuel — As a fleet manager, it almost always comes down to budget. And one of the biggest portions (we’re talking between 50% and 65%) of overall operating costs is dedicated to fueling costs. As mentioned above, having a good management system and GPS tracking in place can help you develop an excellent management strategy. You’ll be able to monitor your drivers’ driving performance, habits, and behavior and monitor fuel usage, which directly affects fuel consumption. By tracking and analyzing this information, you’ll be alerted to issues sooner than you may have been otherwise. Moreover, tracking this info will keep you apprised of any safety concerns, such as aggressive driving. Addressing these issues will help you reduce operational costs associated with your fuel budget.
  4. Perfect and Optimize Your Drivers’ Routes — Customers and clients demand quick and on-time deliveries, so taking the perfect and optimal route is absolutely crucial. Your business’ reputation counts on it! Inaccurate arrival time estimates, delays, and inefficient routes will only lead to frustration. Hiccups and issues along the way are bound to happen and are an inevitable part of any industry, including trucking. But, by automating customer notifications and other processes, fleet managers can experience a lot less stress, allowing them to spend time and put their focus elsewhere.
  5. Prioritize Your Drivers’ Health and Wellness — One of the biggest parts of developing a good truck fleet management strategy is prioritizing your team’s health and wellness. Feeling isolated on the road comes with being a truck driver; it’s part of the territory. So fleet managers who promote a healthy work-life balance and positive mental health are typically much more successful.

Here are some ways managers can prioritize employees’ health:

Include EpicVue in Your Truck Fleet Management Strategy

Developing a truck fleet management strategy is essential to the success of your business, and EpicVue is here to help make it happen. EpicVue will outfit your fleet with premium in-cab television so your drivers can enjoy a bit of home on the road and catch up on their favorite shows. Contact EpicVue today to learn more.