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Fleet Utilization: How to Improve It

Fleet managers face a multitude of challenges every day. On top of being responsible for coordinating deliveries, managing drivers, and vehicle maintenance, they must also pay close attention to how well they’re utilizing their fleet. It makes sense. When a fleet isn’t properly utilized, it can mean a loss of both productivity and profitability. Plus, it can negatively impact your brand’s reputation.

Though it’s probably not possible to achieve perfection in fleet utilization, it’s well worth a fleet manager’s time to work toward this goal. Just like the old saying goes, “shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land upon the stars.”

In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about fleet utilization, including: 

  • What is fleet utilization?
  • How is fleet utilization measured?
  • Why fleet utilization is crucial in logistics
  • Elements of fleet utilization (and how to improve them)


What is Fleet Utilization?

It’s helpful to begin any discussion of fleet utilization by defining exactly what it is. Essentially, fleet utilization – also referred to as fleet usage – is a ratio of demand to capacity. In other words, how many people need vehicles versus how many vehicles are available to them. 

Fleet utilization rates are often expressed in percentages. For example, if you have a fleet of 100 vehicles and 75 of them are being used at any given time, your utilization rate is 75 percent. You can also assess your utilization rate from a mileage standpoint. If your goal is to travel 5,000 miles in a one-month period and you only get halfway there, your utilization rate is 50 percent.

Only when optimum fleet utilization is achieved can your fleet be considered “right-sized,” which is what fleet managers should ultimately be aiming for.

How is Fleet Utilization Measured?

While the math seems pretty straightforward, there can be many variables that influence fleet utilization as evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, here are a few of the most common – and most critical – ways to measure fleet utilization.

  • Fuel consumption: Are there certain vehicles in your fleet that are utilizing more fuel than others due to age or disrepair? Or are your drivers engaging in a lot of fuel-wasting activities such as excessive idling, sudden braking, or speeding?
  • Maintenance costs: How much are you spending to keep your vehicles up and running? Do some of them seem to be breaking down more often than others?
  • Miles traveled: Compare the expenses you’re accruing against the amount of revenue you’re bringing in per vehicle and per mile. How do they measure up?
  • Vehicle utilization: How much are your vehicles actually getting used? Do you have too few or too many?
  • Time utilization: How much time are your vehicles idling during loading and unloading? Sitting in a repair shop? Waiting in heavy traffic?
  • Empty running/vehicle fill: Are you reducing empty journey legs and maximizing your weight utilization?

Why Fleet Utilization is Crucial to Logistics

When you’re operating a fleet of vehicles with the end goal of providing excellent, reliable service, it’s easy to see why fleet utilization is a critical piece of the logistics puzzle. After all, if you’re not able to fulfill the needs of your customers, they’ll probably find someone else who can. Not exactly the result you’re looking for, is it?

A well-utilized, right-sized fleet will ensure that you have:

  • The right type of vehicles to handle your deliveries
  • The proper number of vehicles to make all your required deliveries
  • Vehicles that are accessible to drivers when they are tasked with delivering a shipment
  • Vehicles that are located within relatively close proximity to drivers 


Elements of Fleet Utilization (and how to improve them)

We mentioned above that achieving 100 percent fleet utilization generally isn’t possible. However, the good news is there are a number of things that fleet managers can do to optimize their fleet for peak performance.

Monitor your metrics

The best way to track the metrics we outlined earlier is with fleet management software. By using this software, you can easily identify areas that are in need of attention and could be adversely affecting your bottom line. For example, if you notice that your drivers are idling or driving aggressively, you might consider implementing training classes for improving efficiency in this area. 

Additionally, if you see that certain vehicles are costing you an arm and a leg to operate, it might be time to think about cutting your losses and selling them.

Choose the right vehiclesservicing reefers in MN

Your customers have different demands and it’s your responsibility to meet them or risk losing their business. By having the right vehicles available when a delivery needs to be made, you’re going a long way in providing service your customers can trust. That said, you’ll want to be mindful of how you’re choosing your vehicles. Your goal shouldn’t simply be to acquire as many as possible. 

Rather, you should use your data to help identify your needs and make vehicle purchases – or sales – accordingly.

Keep an eye on the roads

Being efficient in making your deliveries is a key part of fleet utilization and delays due to construction, special events, or road closures can bring everything to a screeching halt. In order to optimize your performance and stay on schedule, it’s critical to plan your routes to accommodate any last-minute changes and to be proactive in monitoring any potential traffic situations that can slow your drivers down.

Be deliberate in your deliveries

It’s inefficient to send a truck out to deliver a single load and with fuel prices continuing to rise, it’s downright costly as well. By combining trips and (safely) filling all your available space, you can get more bang for your buck while serving more customers. This is a huge way to ensure you’re unlocking the full potential of your fleet.


Contact a Fleet Professional for your Fleet Utilization Needs

Looking to improve your fleet utilization? The experts at Blaine Brothers have got you covered 100 percent of the way. Our experienced fleet management team is dedicated to providing outstanding service at competitive prices to companies of all sizes. 

As one of the most trusted names in the trucking and transportation community in the upper midwest, our knowledge and expertise is unsurpassed and the support and service we provide will keep your fleet running smoothly, safely, and efficiently for many miles to come. 

We’ve been doing business this way for more than 40 years and we truly believe in treating our customers like members of our family. Seeing them succeed is what gets us excited to come to work every day, and we can’t wait to show you the Blaine Brothers’ difference. Contact us today – we’re looking forward to meeting you.

Blaine, MN


10011 Xylite Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55449

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Cloquet, MN 55720

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750 Heaton BLVD
Clearwater, MN 55320

Baldwin, WI


2500 Alreich Ave
Baldwin, WI 54002



9515 150th Avenue NE
Columbus, MN 55025