All across the United States businesses utilize commercial fleets to get people and cargo where they need to be.
Commercial fleet vehicles are either owned or leased—there are unique benefits to both options. Companies that provide commercial fleet services companies offer leasing as well as fleet management and maintenance.
Businesses greatly benefit from operating their commercial fleets in an efficient manner. If this can’t be achieved in-house due to budget restraints or a lack of expertise, then leasing via a commercial fleet service provider may be the better option for your business.
A commercial fleet is a group of vehicles that are utilized by a company in order for it to pursue its business objectives. Commercial fleets are made up of fleet vehicles.
Fleet vehicles are either owned by the business that operates them or leased from a third-party provider. Any type of vehicle can be a commercial fleet vehicle including trucks, cars, buses, vans, and SUVs to name just a few.
Commercial fleets range widely in size—from small (a couple of vans working construction jobs) to large (a massive national plumbing business making use of thousands of vehicles), and everything in between.
Many different types of business operate a commercial fleet.
Commercial fleets are a big business in the United States. There are hundreds of thousands of commercial fleet vehicles on the road today with more being purchased every month.
To provide a sense of just how integral the commercial fleet industry is to the U.S., we have compiled some statistics.
A massive number of commercial fleet vehicles are utilized by businesses in the U.S.
As of January 1, 2019, commercial fleets owned 204,000 cars and 1,860,000 trucks. They also leased 431,000 cars and 727,000 trucks. With over three million vehicles in service, the commercial fleet industry in the United States is colossal.
The number of fleet vehicles in use is large and also growing.
In September 2020, commercial fleet sales from nine major OEMs totaled 58,348. This represents a slight decrease from the same period last year. However, given the uncertainty of the pandemic, it is still quite a strong figure.
There are all sorts of commercial fleets as many different types of businesses utilize them.
Some examples of companies that operate commercial fleets include plumbing businesses, electrical companies, shipping companies, construction companies, pest control companies, HVAC companies, telecom companies, waste management firms, and trucking companies—just to name a few.
Fleets can be made up of one uniform vehicle type or include a patchwork of different makes and models. Having only one type of commercial fleet vehicle makes maintenance operations easier, but sometimes specialized vehicles are required for unique tasks.
Businesses need to acquire vehicles in order to build a commercial fleet. The two main ways of getting commercial fleet vehicles are owning and leasing them. Each method has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Owning vehicles outright provides many benefits, including:
Businesses can write off the depreciation of the vehicles they own to save on taxes. However, if you choose to lease, the depreciation tax benefits go to the leasing company.
When businesses own their commercial fleet vehicles they may remove them from service at any time without penalty. When leasing, you are often obligated to keep vehicles for a set period of time, regardless if your business needs them or not.
Additionally, vehicles you own are not subject to wear and tear or maximum mileage limits like they are when you opt to lease commercial fleet vehicles.
Leasing companies now often go beyond just providing vehicles to their customers.
Commercial fleet service providers also offer full fleet management and maintenance for business’ fleets. Their expertise can help you better manage your fleet to increase efficiency and lower costs.
Leased vehicles are generally new vehicle models. There are a number of benefits to utilizing newer commercial fleet vehicle models, including access to the latest technology and safety features, good fuel economy, and fewer maintenance issues when compared to older models.
New leased vehicles have less mileage on them, fewer repair costs, and lower fuel expenses. Vehicles can also be replaced with the latest models after only a few years with a new leasing contract.
Commercial fleet services can be hired for a fraction of the cost of purchasing your own vehicles and establishing in-house fleet management and maintenance divisions. These companies have relatively low monthly payment options and let businesses make better use of their capital.
Many small businesses who would not be able to afford their own in-house maintenance department and equipment opt to lease their commercial fleet vehicles.
Purchasing commercial fleet vehicles is a large capital expenditure that can affect a company’s debt-to-equity ratio negatively.
Leasing is a much smaller expense than owning your own vehicles and is generally classified as an off-balance sheet asset. This puts your company in a better financial position when reviewed by investors or potential lenders.
Leasing a commercial fleet vehicle requires less paperwork than owning one. Businesses that lease their fleet vehicles through commercial fleet services don’t have to worry about time-consuming administrative tasks such as license and tag renewal.
Commercial fleets are utilized by businesses of all types and sizes—from small, three-van electrical companies to large, national telecom businesses employing thousands of vehicles.
Businesses that outsource fleet management and maintenance to commercial fleet service providers benefit from their knowledge, expertise, and favorable leasing agreements. Outsourcing commercial fleet services can also improve the efficiency of your company’s fleet as well as reduce expenses. Whether you have limited resources or simply want to prioritize other aspects of your business, outsourcing your fleet management could be a highly advantageous move for your company.
Each driver is required by the law to record a driver’s duty of status every 24 hours, using the structures stipulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A record of duty status (RODS) can also be referred to as a driver’s log. It allows drivers to record details such as date, vehicle number, totals driving hours, the total number of miles driven within 24 hours, carrier’s name, a 24-hour period starting time, address, driver’s certification/signature, and remarks.
Records can be maintained using an electronic logging device (ELD), using an FMCSA approved automatic on-board recording gadget, or even manually on a grid. Logs must be validated at all times by indicating each change in a duty status.
A RODS is mandatory as part of Hours of Service (HOS) rules, which applies to commercial vehicles (CMVs). However, a few cases of short-haul carriers are exempt from maintaining records of duty status.
Company policies may be different, but the FMCSA only expects drivers to record time and location after every stop.
Since the introduction of the ELD mandate, several motor carriers are leaning toward electronic logging devices to maintain their records of duty status automatically. Companies were given until December 16, 2019 to update automatic on-board recording devices to the latest ones, meaning there were also some exemptions to the ELD Rule.
Exemptions to RODS regulations include the following:
For drivers to qualify for the exemption, they must meet all the requirements stated by the regulations. Failure to meet even one of the requirements means all HOS rules apply.
A driver must produce ELD records when requested by a safety official, either immediately, or within the permissible time if the motor carrier operates from more than one terminal or office. A motor carrier is supposed to retain a back-up copy of all ELD records for at least six months.
Only carriers or drivers falling under the exempted categories may use other recording methods, which may include automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) to maintain driver record of duty status.
Being exempted from the ELD rule does not mean you are automatically exempted from the HOS regulations. A driver is required to submit original paper log sheets to their respective carriers within 13 days after the completion of their trips. The driver retains a copy of all RODS for the previous seven days, which must be produced on request for inspection at the time they are on duty. Drivers must also sign all hard copies of RODS.
The idea behind mandating the ELD rules was to provide accurate, consistent, and accessible methods of logging driver hours of service, and simultaneously create a safer working environment. The new measures were intended to ensure drivers took necessary breaks and rested appropriately, and to ensure they remained alert while driving. Making the switch from manual processes like logbooks to electronic hours of service tools makes it easier for businesses to keep up with the FMCSA requirements.
However, the implementation of electronic logging devices does not change the fleet manager’s responsibility to track off duty or driving hours. What it does require is that you make use of a log tracking device and software system.
The HOS rules apply to drivers operating CMVs such as school buses and semi-trucks. For a vehicle to be classified as a CMV, it must fulfil the following:
If a vehicle meets the qualifications above, it is required by the law to comply with HOS regulations and to maintain decent hours of service log.
Besides ordinary traffic violations and unsafe driving, it is common among drivers to fail to comply with HOS regulations. Hours of Service compliance counts as one of the core basics of CSA, and maintaining a low score is often a result of piling frustrations.
The ability to fix problems associated with hours of service is the most crucial way to keep safety scores in check, and helps in controlling the frequency of roadside inspections.
Below are the most common violations of Hours of Service and how you can fix them.
When entering data manually, issues like mathematical errors, poor handwriting, the omission of essential information, and many other mistakes, may arise. These are issues that can be minimized by implementing an electronic system that automatically fills in the required data when it is needed. Tired drivers can easily leave out essential data, which could be deemed a violation of the hours of service regulations.
The driver record of duty status graph shown on a log must always be up to date, showing each detail of changes. Forgetting, or simply failing to update duty status is common among drivers and leads to severe roadside inspections. It is mostly due to drivers failing on their mandate to remain vigilant by changing statuses.
It is easy to fix this recurring problem with the simple touch of a screen. All drivers have to do is to indicate the time their shifts start, and to change their status to off-duty when shifts end. Electronic logbooks are designed to detect when a vehicle is stationary or in motion, and gives accurate data at all times.
Failing to properly maintain your RODS and not maintaining logs for seven days is a violation that can lead to hefty fines. Drivers of companies running smaller vehicles may not be aware of what is required of them, but they must check with the relevant authorities. Inspectors ask for records of the previous seven days. Therefore, drivers must not misplace any record whatsoever.
Azuga works with you to deliver customized solutions for fleets and drivers. It doesn’t matter the size of your fleet, Azuga offers the right products and technology to duly maintain drivers’ records of duty status and keep you compliant with the hours of service regulations.
If you utilize company vehicles during the course of business, you might want to familiarize yourself with enterprise fleet management and maintenance. Operating a fleet can be a challenge. Luckily there are things that you can do to make your life a lot easier. In this article, we will answer what is an enterprise fleet? Plus, we’ll outline four key tips you should know about enterprise fleet management and an additional three tips about enterprise fleet maintenance.
An enterprise fleet, simply put, is a fleet of vehicles leased or owned by a business. Automotive Fleet Magazine defines enterprise fleets as commercial entities with 15 or greater vehicles. A wide range of businesses operate enterprise fleets. For example, delivery businesses and many businesses who do on-site service calls or have representatives travel to meet with clients have enterprise fleets.
The enterprise fleet industry is huge in the United States. Automotive Magazine recently released a report that outlines the number of cars and trucks that are leased or owned by enterprise fleets in the United States. Fleets in the U.S. leased 431,000 vehicles last year and owned 204,000 vehicles. There are a total of 727,000 trucks being leased by enterprise fleets and 1,860,000 trucks are owned by them.
In some areas, enterprise fleets are also made up of vehicles that are privately owned (or leased) by employees but used for business purposes. These are known as “grey fleet” vehicles.
Enterprise fleet management can be a challenge. It’s a fast-paced job that requires you to stay on your toes. Fleet managers are often responsible for drivers and accountable to management. Below are four tips on how to excel in enterprise fleet management:
When a business lacks purchasing and disposal guidelines for fleet vehicles they may be giving up thousands of dollars through inefficiencies. Consistency is very important in enterprise fleet management.
Your company should look into bulk purchasing and understand the right time or number of miles at which to best sell a vehicle. Enterprise fleet managers should spec out options for fleet vehicles and assemble a purchasing plan. In addition, they should gain insight into the optimal time to dispose of fleet vehicles.
Fleet drivers face a whole host of distractions and safety hazards on the job. Great fleet managers know how to get ahead of things that might become problems. Invest in safety before accidents happen.
Investing in safety may look like hands-free devices for your drivers, installing an app that monitors driver behavior on their phones, or an in-cab camera that oversees drivers while they’re on the road. Ultimately, being proactive about safety will save your company money in the long run.
Many fleet managers find it useful to incentivize drivers to perform well. Drivers may be encouraged to achieve higher fuel efficiency or perform vehicle inspections regularly. No matter what goal you set, you should hold your drivers to a high-performance standard.
Driver behavior monitoring makes it simple to set goals and encourage safe driving habits. Actionable goals help managers encourage drivers to improve their driving habits.
The best fleet managers know that the fleet industry is constantly changing and it's vital that managers keep up. Top fleet managers join industry associations, read trade publications and blogs, and overall keep up with what is happening in the industry.
Often fleet managers will discover new technologies to adopt when reading up on the fleet industry. This helps them keep ahead of the competition. With so much information readily available online, it’s never been easier for fleet managers to keep up-to-date and ahead of the curve.
Fleet maintenance is integral to running a top-performing enterprise fleet. Here are three tips on how to excel at enterprise fleet maintenance:
Pay attention to your maintenance costs and make note when they start to rise because of a vehicle’s age. Make sure you comprehend the warranty coverage provided by the manufacturer and the way it impacts the vehicle’s total cost of ownership. Those who excel at enterprise fleet management understand trends in the used vehicle market, the residual value of fleet vehicles, and the best time to sell fleet vehicles to obtain a cost-effective enterprise fleet.
A vital part of fleet maintenance is performing specs on vehicles. It’s important that this job is performed well. You should be aware of the demands your fleet vehicles will face. Make sure to outline vehicle usage.
The danger is that under-specing a fleet vehicle can lead to maintenance issues down the line that could put a dent in your budget. On the other hand, an over-spec’d fleet vehicle can also increase costs. Great fleet managers know the criteria involved with specing (operating conditions, what’s being carried, usage, etc.) and try to make theirs as accurate as possible.
One of the most important things to understand about enterprise fleet maintenance is the cost savings involved in preventative maintenance. Well-maintained fleet vehicles are less likely to require unscheduled downtime or repairs. Some examples of preventative maintenance are general vehicle safety checks, oil changes, and tire rotation, and inspection. Make sure to perform these activities on a regular schedule.
Good enterprise fleet management practices help leaders in the fleet management industry achieve more. Take your fleet to the next level when you implement smart technology like Azuga Fleet™. The Azuga team is here to help boost your fleet’s productivity, improve safety, and save you hundreds each year.
If you’re a fleet owner, fleet manager, or even fleet driver, you should know about the OBD-II port. It’s a standardized diagnostic port that allows you to access data from the computer in a vehicle’s engine. GPS trackers can be installed in a vehicle’s OBD-II port to provide live engine and trip data to a central hub or the driver.
In this article we will outline the basics of OBD-II ports, the history of the OBD-II port, and detailed specs on the OBD-II port pinout. Vehicles are integral to fleets and understanding the OBD-II port is essential to getting the most out of yours.
So what exactly is the OBD-II port? To start out let’s break down the abbreviation. “OBD” stands for “on-board diagnostics.” It refers to the vehicle’s electronic system that provides self-diagnostics and reporting features. This system is used by repair technicians to gain access to subsystem information in order to monitor the vehicle’s performance and properly repair it.
On-board diagnostics (OBD) is the uniform protocol that is used in most light-duty vehicles in order to access the vehicle’s diagnostic information. This information is produced by the vehicle’s engine control unit (ECU, also known as the engine control module). The engine control unit acts as the “brain” of the vehicle.
A vehicle’s OBD-II is a computer that monitors mileage, emissions, speed, and additional data about the vehicle. It’s connected to the vehicle’s dashboard and will alert the driver if any issues are detected (by turning on the check engine light for example).
The OBD-II port is accessible from inside the vehicle. It will generally be located under the dash on the driver’s side. It enables a mechanic (or anyone else with a specialized tool) to read the error code generated by the engine. Looking to install GPS trackers in your fleet vehicles? Check out our comprehensive guide to learn more about where these devices are installed.
The origins of the OBD-II port began in the 1960s. Some of the organizations involved in the preliminary framework for the standard were the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the California Air Resources Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Organization for Standardization.
The first on-board diagnostics system that had the capacity to be scanned to check for issues with the vehicle’s engine was introduced by Volkswagen in 1968. Over ten years later, Datsun released a very basic on-board diagnostics system. Jump forward to 1980, when General Motors revealed a proprietary system including interface and protocol that was able to generate engine diagnostics and alert the driver via a check engine light. At the same time, other car manufacturers were introducing their own versions of on-board diagnostics.
Up until this time, before standardization hit the industry, manufacturers created their own proprietary systems. This meant the tools required to diagnose different vehicle’s engines were all different. They had their own connector type, requirements for electronic interface, and each used custom codes for reporting problems.
Standardization finally came to on-board diagnostics in the late 1980s. In 1988 the Society of Automotive Engineers released a recommendation that called for a standard connector pin and set of diagnostics across the industry.
In 1991 the state of California mandated that all vehicles have some form of basic on-board diagnostics. This is known as OBD-I, a precursor to the OBD-II port.
OBD-II was created three years later, in 1994. In that year California required all vehicles sold (starting in 1996) to have on-board diagnostics as recommended by SAE. This is known as OBD-II. California introduced the legislation primarily in order to perform across-the-board emissions testing on vehicles. Due to California’s legislation, in 1996 car manufacturers started to install OBD-II ports in all cars and trucks across the country.
OBD-II introduced standardized diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). There is a slight variation among OBD-II systems. These variations are known as protocols. They are specific to vehicle manufacturers and there are five basic signal protocols:
The OBD-II port pinout gives access to the engine’s status information and Diagnostic Trouble Codes. The DTCs cover a number of aspects of the vehicle including powertrain (engine and transmission) and emission control systems. The OBD-II pinout also provides further information including the vehicle identification number (VIN), Calibration Identification Number, ignition counter, and emissions control system counters.
These DTCs are stored in a computer system. It’s important to note that these codes vary between manufacturers. There are trouble codes for a wide range of aspects of the vehicle including powertrain (including engine, transmission, emissions), chassis, body, and network. The list of standard diagnostic trouble codes is extensive.
If a fleet vehicle is brought to a shop to be serviced, the mechanic can connect to the vehicle’s OBD-II port pinout with a standardized scanning tool to read the error codes and identify the issue. The OBD-II port lets mechanics accurately diagnose issues with your fleet’s vehicles, inspect them promptly, and fix any issues before they become major problems. Ultimately the OBD-II port helps get your fleet vehicles back on the road faster and stay there longer.
Any OBD-II scan tool can read DTCs due to the standardized pinout. Scanning tools have the capacity to read from any of the 5 protocols. The standardized OBD-II port pinout is as follows:
Pin 1: Utilized by manufacturer
Pin 2: Utilized by SAE J1850 PWM and VPW
Pin 3: Utilized by manufacturer
Pin 4: Ground
Pin 5: Ground
Pin 6: Utilized by ISO 15765-4 CAN
Pin 7: ISO 14230-4 and The K-Line of ISO 9141-2
Pin 10: Utilized solely by SAE J1850 PWM
Pin 14: Utilized by ISO 15765-4 CAN
Pin 15: ISO 14230-4 and the K-Line of ISO 9141-2
Pin 16: Power from the vehicle’s battery
Your fleet vehicle's OBD-II ports may be small but they can play a big role in helping your fleet succeed. To learn about what OBD-II ports can be used to help your fleet succeed check out Azuga Fleet. This smart fleet tracking software will allow you to take your company to the next level without the growing pains.