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October 18, 2021

Engine Calibrations: What They Are and Why Your Fleet Needs Them

Engine Calibrations: What They Are and Why Your Fleet Needs Them

The ups and downs of the economic landscape, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, have created unprecedented amounts of urgency for businesses to get the most value from how their fleets operate. This includes new initiatives to cut costs, improve vehicle performance, implement new sustainable best practices – the list goes on.

However, the challenge with many of these initiatives is that many of them seemingly contradict one another. For example, how do you lower fuel costs while staying more productive? How do you improve vehicle performance while creating a more eco-friendly fleet? These dilemmas leave many fleet managers confused on which path they should walk and how they can make the right decisions while controlling costs and creating more sustainable operations.

Fleet managers can introduce solutions that help check the boxes on many of the day-to-day concerns of fleet operations that are easy to implement, highly affordable, and scalable. Below we’ll discuss how custom engine calibrations could be the answer to improve multiple elements of your fleet’s productivity, fuel efficiency, and sustainability needs.

What Exactly Are Engine Calibrations?

Almost all vehicles are mass-produced in production assembly lines designed for speed and efficiency. As part of this efficiency effort, all vehicle engines and components are built precisely to spec by the manufacturer, with each finished product running precisely like another. 

When vehicle manufacturers decide how to spec their engines, several factors go into the process, many of them driven off of answers to questions like:

  • Who is the target user of the vehicle?
  • How is the vehicle likely to be used?
  • Should the vehicle be designed for performance or economy?
  • The vehicle will be used in what type of weather?
  • What kind of fuel the vehicle needs to operate?

These questions narrow the focus for manufacturers to decide how to calibrate the engine.

 However, the reality is that factory vehicle calibrations can’t consider all potential users, and therefore, by default, are limited in their total capabilities. Engine calibrations provide a way for vehicle owners to change the default configurations, essentially modifying how they operate.

By altering the vehicle’s engine parameters, custom engine calibrations allow owners to change engine parameters to function in a way that will be more beneficial. This will enable them to get more value from the vehicle and significantly improve fuel efficiency, performance, safety, and sustainability.

How Do Engine Calibrations Work?

Engine calibrations work by modifying to the vehicle’s ECM, otherwise known as the Engine Control Module. The ECM is what regulates your vehicle’s idle speed, air-fuel ratio, and ignition timing to ensure the vehicle runs at “optimal” performance.

ECM modules are software-based and therefore rely on specific coding during the manufacturing process. For example, when applying a custom engine calibration, the ECM module is accessed through the vehicle’s OBD-II port, where external programming can be applied to the ECM. Depending on the owner’s needs, the ECM can be reprogrammed entirely, so the vehicle runs more optimally than factory settings.

What Are The Benefits of Engine Calibrations?

Engine calibrations not only improve fuel efficiency and performance but can also extend the life of your vehicle significantly. Click To Tweet

There are several benefits associated with using engine calibrations for your fleet. Besides the benefit of getting to unlock “all” of the potential your vehicle has to offer, here are four critical improvements that custom engine calibrations can bring:

Better Fuel Efficiency

One of the primary contributors to fleet spending is fuel. There are many reasons for this, but many fleet managers don’t know that a custom engine calibration can address many of them. Custom engine calibrations allow you to take control over your vehicle’s idling times and other critical engine performance variables that directly affect how much fuel your vehicle is burning. By modifying these variables across your entire fleet, you can see significant savings in your annual spending. 

Increased Safety

Developing and enforcing best safety practices is challenging to many fleet managers. Building policy is one thing, but executing it while drivers are in the field is another thing entirely. Engine calibrations in combination with fleet management solutions allow fleet managers to implement active safety measures in all of their vehicles. These can come in speed governance and monitoring, seatbelt compliance checks, and cell blocking technology to eliminate distracted driving.

Improved Visibility

When applying a custom engine calibration, fleet managers gain much more than just improved performance in their engines. Using tools like Derive VQ, fleet managers can gain enhanced visibility across all of their fleet vehicles, including how they perform on the road, where their vehicle assets are located, and how to optimize their routes better. This added visibility is critical when dealing with the modern-day challenges of highly remote teams and disconnected management processes.  

Are Engine Calibrations Affordable?

Engine calibrations are more affordable and impactful decisions that fleet managers can implement for their organization. Solutions are so economical that most companies see an immediate savings of 6-12% in fuel expenditure if they typically see a complete ROI of their investment within the first 30 days of implementation. In addition, engine calibrations through an OBD-II solution only take 15-20 minutes to complete, making it easy to integrate across an entire fleet while minimizing downtime. 

Final Thoughts

Engine calibrations are a highly effective and affordable way for fleet managers to address many key performance issues that plague fleets today. By applying engine calibrations in your vehicles, you’ll unlock their full potential while creating a customizable solution for better performance, increased safety, and maximum fuel efficiency.

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