Mesilla Valley Transportation
Raising the Bar and Driver Incentives
Improve MPG; reduce maintenance costs
PeopleNet Vehicle Management, Fault Code Reporting
The desert almost dried up Mesilla Valley Transportation’s future in the first six months of its operation. CEO and founder Royal Jones explains, “We’re located fairly far from our customers, which adds to fuel costs and subtracts from earnings. At first I thought about selling one of our two trucks and returning to driving, but instead began to turn monthly losses by getting more mileage out of fuel we purchased—improving MPG.”
Today, logging an average of 13 million miles per month on 1,100 vehicles, MVT continues to live and breathe MPG. Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) implemented PeopleNet Vehicle Management with the distinct purpose of improving MPG, and that’s just what the firm did—big time. Within three months, the first of many milestone savings was logged, surpassing ROI projections.
In the first year of using PeopleNet Vehicle Management, Mesilla Valley Transportation cut fuel purchases by 300,000 gallons per month, chalking up $900,000 to one million dollars a month savings in fuel cost.
“Our initial goal was was to raise MPG by .2 to .3 of a mile. But we ultimately killed it with with MPG that was nearly 30 percent better. PeopleNet reports that are based on vehicle management data helped us identify driver behaviors we could manage to drive MPG improvements. The next important step was get inside drivers’ heads.”
-Royal Jones, CEO and founder of Mesilla Valley Transportation
Incentives help charge MPG
A hefty incentive would motivate drivers to change driving habits that impede MPG. When Jones decided to make good use of a Jeep sitting in his garage by promising it to the driver who had the highest average MPG for the quarter, MPG became a serious competition. Training Manager Jose Figueroa explains, “The impact on MPG performance was so amazing that we kept the program by offering a Harley Davidson motorcycle each quarter to the winner. To qualify, drivers must also meet certain criteria, like drive a minimum number of miles, no unwarranted load refusals, no driver-responsible accidents and meet DOT regulations and on-time requirements.”
Although a driver can win a Harley only once, there is no limit on eligibility for the company’s quarterly tiered bonus program that rewards drivers who achieve various MPG levels. To qualify, a driver must be a member of the elite MPG club by achieving a minimum average MPG for the quarter. Currently, nearly 50 percent of MVT’s company drivers qualify, with 10 percent at the top two MPG levels. In addition, for the last three years, the company has awarded a $25,000 grand prize to the top annual winner who meets all other criteria.
Figueroa notes that the program continues to evolve. “We’ve raised the MPG bar as drivers have proven that they can meet higher standards. Every .1 of a mile saves MVT 16,000 gallons of fuel. We give our drivers everything they need to succeed: their status, tips and an incentive. Every two weeks I post the names of the 100 drivers with the highest MPG and 100 with the lowest MPG. It’s one of the most popular locations in our company.”
Daily updates keep momentum high
Drivers know where they stand every day. MVT uses PeopleNet data to create reports that rank MPG performance by driver from the best to the poorest across their specific fleet grouping (by supervisor) and across the company. Drivers receive emails directly to their PeopleNet units in the cab with their quarter-to- date MPG and how they rank, tips for improvement and words of encouragement.
In addition, MVT’s continuing education program is a daily offering. One of the training rooms contains trailers, tires, and mechanical parts that give drivers opportunities for improving behaviors that will help their MPG, whether it’s how to properly inspect a vehicle, how to apply the brakes or how to accelerate.
If a driver isn’t achieving the bare threshold MPG, MVT gives the truck a heavy once-over and check fault codes to see if there’s an issue that’s causing the breach. If that inspection is clean, they start coaching the driver. As a last resort, they weed out drivers who can’t meet our standard. The minimum standard is still below the fleet average. Since beginning this program, they’ve increased the minimum standard by .5 MPG and have never had to weed anyone out.
Mastering maintenance expenses
In addition to improving MPG, MVT is keeping maintenance costs at bay with PeopleNet’s fault code reporting, which has given preventive maintenance a shot in the arm. Before this capability, diagnostics had to wait until the truck arrived at the shop or dealership either on its own power or by a tow.
Safety Lane Foreman Shane Pedroncelli shares a prime example of how fault codes protect MVT’s vehicles and drivers. He says, “When we saw the same codes come in for a new owner-operator over a three-day period, we let him know that he was headed for a breakdown and called him into the shop. We covered his load and rescued the truck from a much more costly repair.”
Another scenario explains how PeopleNet reporting keeps drivers from making unnecessary trips to dealerships. A driver sees the “check engine” light and calls in concerned about a possible serious issue. Onroad repair sees that the light is on for high exhaust temp due to terrain and advises the driver that this is not a serious issue and to continue on. GPS information reveals that the driver is pulling a huge load up an incline, so the shop reassures the driver that the source of the warning light is a hard pull and he should continue his trip.
Pedroncelli explains, “Fault codes make us guardian angels for our drivers and our customers. We’re better able to protect drivers from breakdowns that keep them off the road. And, we help them avoid unnecessary trips (an unnecessary expense) to the dealership or shop that require repowering their load. Our goal is to keep the customer’s load moving. It’s all about on-time delivery and avoiding major repair expenses when possible.”
MVT has loaded more than 100 codes for issues that can cause a vehicle to lose power or shut down. Nestor Vidaurri, lead shop diagnostics, has translated all coded data reported by PeopleNet into readable English. For example, when PeopleNet logs fault code “SPN-111 FMI-1/18,” MVT’s system automatically filters the data and translates it to “197-Coolant Level – Data Valid but below Normal Operating Range – Moderately Severe Level.” The system triggers an email that is ultimately sent to Josue Perezchica’s OnRoad department, which communicates with drivers about the warning.
“In addition to the vehicle’s below-normal coolant level,” says Perezchica, “the email provides additional information, such as the severity level of the fault code, odometer speed, and GPS location. We have a more comprehensive view that helps us make better decisions about what action, if any, should be taken.”
Fault code reporting can optimize shop visits as well. When a truck is in the shop for a simple repair, the mechanic can refer to fault code reports to head off other issues that may be brewing.
Pedroncelli sums up fault code reporting. “I predict that it will become a common, indispensible tool. Maintenance needs change every day, and in order to stay on top of them, we need to be as smart as the equipment we’re running. Fault codes keep us a step ahead of the game in preventing a great majority of huge repairs or unnecessary load interruptions and trips to the shop.”
MVT is looking at Automated Fuel Tax services and is ready to implement Speed Monitoring and eDriver Logs®.