Commentary: Adapting to operational changes during COVID-19

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Updated Apr 28, 2020

This is the first of a two-part commentary from Fleet Advantage Chief Executive Officer John Flynn looking at adapting to operational changes during COVID-19 and how fleets can position themselves for post-pandemic success. Similarly, CCJ will host an online event, “Upshift: How to Find Opportunities During This Challenging Time,” May 27-28. Registration to the event is free for carriers. Visit

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the entire world with ripple effects being felt throughout the global economy. Data discussed at a recent forum at UC Berkeley show the vast extent of the COVID-19 pandemic, as forecasters believe as much as one-third of the U.S. economy may be shuttered, and real unemployment reaching 25%.

John Flynn is Chief Executive Officer of Fleet Advantage.John Flynn is Chief Executive Officer of Fleet Advantage.

Washington has responded with a $2 trillion relief package, and the Federal Reserve Board recently announced $2.3 trillion of extra-economic relief for small businesses and local governments.

The essential link to keeping America moving and open for business are the thousands of transportation fleets and drivers being called upon to deliver food and critical health items to the estimated 350 million Americans.

In doing so, fleets must quickly respond and mobilize to accommodate existing and new transportation routes in an efficient manner and, most importantly, figure out a way to keep drivers and customers safe from the pandemic itself. 

Taking a broad look at the current situation

Everyone has been affected by COVID-19, and it has spurred significant challenges for transportation fleets. The transport of food and health/sanitary items such as cleaning supplies and paper towels have also placed new strains on the supply chain. Motor carriers are having to scrutinize significant preventative measures needed to ensure the health and safety of customers, drivers and everyone that is in contact with goods that are transported and delivered.

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Transportation fleets must rely on their asset management partners to ensure that trucks continue to operate as efficiently as possible in order to safely deliver food and essential goods during the pandemic and containment efforts.

The timely transport and safe delivery of these critical items are paramount to helping Americans get through this pandemic, and these companies are working around the clock to ensure fleets and their customers have the support they need to deliver these goods. Some asset management partners are specifically helping by coordinating with the OEM the delivery of new truck units to fleets with an immediate need to accommodate additional shipments of critical supplies. These partners are also helping to coordinate with fleets that have new equipment deliveries that have been disrupted due to plant suspensions or supply chain disruptions for the delivery of these new units.

Keeping drivers safe and trucks clean

There are several considerations for drivers, as well as ways to help keep them safe during the current coronavirus outbreak and containment efforts. There are many issues in focus on the health and well-being of each driver, such as where and how drivers will eat and take rests on the road. It is also important to monitor and focus on the daily disinfecting and cleaning of each truck and trailer, as well as the interaction with the maintenance departments on repairing units. These necessary steps help ensure the safety of not only drivers but also the technicians needed to properly maintain and keep trucks on the road.  

Properly maintained trucks are important to the supply chain

Because many trucks are running around the clock to transport essential items promptly, keeping vehicles maintained has never been more important. Fleets should be leveraging critical data to keep track of maintenance trends and milestones to keep trucks safely operating to ensure on-time deliveries and prevent unwanted breakdowns, while using data to prioritize necessary repairs and preventative maintenance measures.

Maintenance and repair (M&R) is traditionally a large expense for fleets. Given the current circumstances, additional M&R costs from trucks that are not properly maintained can further erode a fleet’s financial picture in a time when the economic situation has placed enormous strain on transportation fleets. 

John Flynn is Chief Executive Officer of Fleet Advantage, a leading innovator in truck fleet business analytics, equipment financing and lifecycle cost management.