Originally appeared in Fleet Owner

The industry’s constant innovation can be difficult to keep up with. Knowing your fleet’s operational needs and the service requirements of what you buy are the start of a sensible approach to getting new technology and equipment.

Almost every day, new technology is designed to improve fuel economy, safety, productivity, and the driver’s experience.

The number of various components to spec on a new truck can be overwhelming. Some fleets will stick with tried-and-true vehicle specs, while others are “all in” with every new technology that comes on the market.

When looking at a new technology, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will work for every aspect of your operation. However, there is a balanced, sensible process for fleets evaluating new technologies.

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Seeking out independent, unbiased information, including leveraging existing relationships with suppliers such as OEMs, dealers, financing partners, and service providers, is a great place to start. Suppliers will be familiar with your operation and can provide insight into whether the adoption of an innovation makes sense.

Look at your fleet’s duty cycles and operational characteristics to determine if a new technology is well-suited for the application. Electric vehicles, for example, do not make sense for long-haul operations because there is not a national charging infrastructure. But BEVs are a great solution for short-haul route delivery operation.

Consider the serviceability of any new technology before making an investment. What is the new technology going to cost to maintain and repair? If repairs are costly or time-consuming, the technology might not be right for you. Maintenance staff training is also something to consider.

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Set measurable KPIs to quantify expectations, and if the technology performs well, a large-scale rollout can begin. However, do so within the parameters of your normal trade cycle.

A measured approach will ensure that your technology investments are right for your fleet, improving productivity, efficiency, and safety—as well as delivering the right ROI.