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    Measuring Engine Miles to Hours to Improve Fleet Management

    close up of speedometer in vehicle

    At Lytx, we’re dedicated to helping fleets understand more about their drivers and vehicles, so they can become safer, improve productivity, and reduce costs. There are several factors that can impact a fleet’s bottom line: fuel consumption, number of services or deliveries completed, mileage, idle time, customer service, safety, and vehicle wear and tear.

    One important factor fleet managers need to understand is the relationship between engine hours vs. miles. - Which is a better indicator of performance? - the short answer is that you need to look at both.

    Overseeing the intricate factors of fleet management requires more forethought than standard preventative vehicle maintenance. One of the essential differences that a fleet manager needs to consider is engine hours vs miles.

    Calculating engine hours to miles and vice versa can help you develop a comprehensive program for vehicle replacement, optimize maintenance schedules, breakdown vehicle usage, and manage the fleet’s total expenditures.

    By knowing a vehicle's engine hours, you’ll have a better grasp over its actual condition.

    Tracking performance indicators

    Mileage is still one of the most common indicators of a vehicle’s condition and performance. However, as fleet managers will understand, a vehicle’s travel distance doesn’t fully encompass all the duties of a medium or heavy-duty truck. To help turn to more accurate methods, fleet managers will convert hours to miles or calculate the fuel consumption to better measure performance.

    Lytx clients, for example, rely on the GPS technology already in their DriveCam Event Recorders or utilize data from an Engine Control Module (ECM) plug-in. ECM data provides highly specific information such as engine hours and true idle vs. driving, while GPS provides high-level information, such as miles driven and daily route time.

    Measuring a vehicle’s condition by its mileage has long been the benchmark, mainly due to fleets using a mileage replacement policy. Still, it’s becoming more evident that this may not be the best method. Using an hours to miles calculator is quickly being adopted by fleet managers.

    Idle time

    One of the main criticisms of using mileage as the primary metric is that by converting idle hours to miles, you will get a radically different rate at which a vehicle needs maintenance. For example, for a medium-duty truck’s engine, one gallon of fuel processed through idling is equivalent to traveling 30 miles.

    A vehicle that spends most of its operating time idle needs to determine its hours to miles ratio to maintain a proper preventive maintenance schedule. By knowing a truck’s engine hours to miles, you can adequately estimate the lifecycle cost to the company. A medium-duty truck that needs to idle to perform its primary function, such as operating a crane, can easily use up to a gallon of fuel for two hours of idling.

    These types of work trucks will usually register low mileage but will endure significantly higher strain on its engine than is reported.

    Data validation

    A company’s projections are only as good as the data inputted. For national companies, fleets might experience significantly divergent results when comparing different regions. The effect of mileage on trucks in a rural location will produce wildly different data from trucks in a major city.

    Specialty vehicles

    The impact that engine hours vs miles has on specialty vehicles also needs to be taken into account. If a fleet includes vehicles with power take-off (PTO) equipped, the truck needs to run to charge the battery continuously. The idle time isn't always reflected when calculating vehicle utilization.

    By incorporating an hours to miles conversion, your fleet is better equipped to account for standard wear-and-tear on its engines.

    Measuring hours vs. miles

    Are engine hours to miles the best metrics to oversee a fleet? This ultimately depends on what a fleet uses its trucks to accomplish. Companies that predominantly operate by traveling on the road may find mileage calculations to be the best method.

    Long-haul trucks may find that a standardized replacement schedule is improved by using mileage over time instead of engine hours.

    Trucks that operate while idle for their primary application would produce inaccurate cost per hour data if measured by mileage. After converting engine hours to miles, it’s not uncommon to find that a low mileage truck requires more maintenance than a highway-based truck, increasing its cost per hour.

    To help determine preventative maintenance, factoring a vehicle’s engine hours will help to determine future oil, fuel filter, air filter changes. Factoring a vehicle’s mileage will help when monitoring its chassis, suspension, and driveline components.

    Understanding both metrics and how a fleet utilizes its trucks will give you the best method that should be incorporated into future projections.

    How to calculate engine hours to miles

    A truck engine’s operating time is monitored by an engine meter. The meter activates whenever the engine turns on and deactivates when the engine shuts off. By pulling the data from the engine meter, an engine hours to miles formula can determine an approximation of the miles traversed since the meter was last zeroed.

    Follow this engine hours to miles calculator:

    • Pull the data from the engine meter to determine how many hours the engine has run
    • Calculate the hours by a factor of 60 to approximate the miles accumulated on the engine
    • Formula: Engine hours x 60 = Approximate mileage

    If you are looking to increase your company’s productivity and measure vehicle utilization, contact Lytx today. We provide solutions to help fleets with driver safetyGPS fleet trackingDOT compliance, and fuel management. You can forecast expenditures by monitoring idle time and reduce fuel consumption based on accurate reports derived from the vehicle’s engine control module (ECM).

    Contact Lytx and book a free demo today to see how our solutions can improve your company’s bottom line.