CHASSIS FLEET OPTIMIZATION: OPTIMIZING BY THE MARKET AND BY THE YARD - I.D. Systems

CHASSIS FLEET OPTIMIZATION: OPTIMIZING BY THE MARKET AND BY THE YARD

By BY JASON ANDERSON

We talked in a previous post about how even if chassis fleet operators right now wanted to optimize their fleets, they wouldn’t be able to because they are operating with incomplete and unreliable information.

They are counting on drivers and gate agents to deliver accurate data about arrivals and departures. But drivers and gate agents are human. They get busy. Mistakes happen.

Instead, chassis fleet operators need real-time and confirmable data about where their chassis are right now.

But, once they have that real-time data, what can they do with it? How do they optimize? Two ways. They can optimize by the market, and they can optimize by the yard.

Visibility into the market

Traditionally, asset productivity is measured in turns per month. You want your equipment out on the streets and moving containers, not sitting idle somewhere.

Too many assets sitting for an extended period in one location indicates a geographic area has a surplus of equipment needed to handle day-to-day demands for containers. The time that these chassis sit unused on a yard is called dwell time, and high dwell times are the hallmark of an unoptimized fleet.

In a properly optimized chassis market, let’s say each chassis is seeing seven out-gates each month. So, how do you hit that number? By eliminating the manual processes — like yard checks and relying solely on drivers and yards to report in-gates and out-gates — and using tracking technologies that give you an accurate view of what equipment is actually where. That allows you to confidently and accurately plan and position your chassis fleet so you are able to get to seven out-gates per chassis.

Used long term, this type of business intelligence platform — one like Asset Intelligence’s VeriWise IQ — can provide a multiple-year view of asset utilization trends across your fleet to let you know the current and historical efficiency of your operation, with multiple analytical reports to isolate primary contributors to underperformance.

This type of visual tool can demonstrate, at a glance, how long assets are sitting idle on average within their respective markets.

Visibility into the yard

Traditional visibility into yard efficiency is done through painstakingly manual processes, again relying on data that may not be 100 percent accurate and is possibly not fresh.

Without intelligence provided by tracking technologies, fleet managers are relying on traditional billing methods, manual inventory counts, and in-house analysis to determine if the number of chassis they have at a particular location matches with the number of times those chassis are being used. More chassis than out-gates and that location is costing the company money.

All of this manual analysis is incredibly reactive and, honestly, ineffective. Again, chassis tracking software removes the manual processes as well as the reporting delays and gives a real-time look at which yards and terminals are operating most efficiently. Sometimes it may not be an issue of efficiency but one of traffic. Some ramps or ports may work quickly and turn chassis around but not have enough container volume to support the number of chassis a provider has located there. Asset Intelligence software can tell you that too.

But the right tracking software will do more than tell you about gate transactions. It can reveal how chassis are being used once inside a yard—whether they are spending excessive time inbound or outbound with a container mounted, or if they are being used to shuttle containers without leaving the yard. It will provide exact counts of rail loops and backhaul. Drilling into asset detail at this level allows users to understand what each chassis has been doing since arrival, and start making decisions about how those assets can be utilized going forward.

Conclusion

Logistics and transportation is an industry that operates on the edge. Margins are small. Every decision made is make or break. Are you losing money because you have one market bloated with chassis? Are you leaving money on the table because you aren’t able to capitalize on opportunities at a particular yard? Without tracking technologies, it’s difficult to know.