Engine Hours Explained: Why It Matters & Should You Also Track Them? 

keyKey Takeaways:
  • Engine hours are an important metric for logistics and delivery businesses. It refers to the number of hours an engine has been running, regardless if it’s moving or standing.
  • It helps to create effective maintenance schedules to prevent vehicle breakdowns and vehicle tear and wear.
  • Tracking engine hours helps in cost savings, reducing idle time and improving the overall efficiency of your business.

When it comes to delivery and logistics businesses, every minute counts. Hence, efficient, reliable, and cost-effective business operations are paramount for success. Businesses keep track of predefined metrics and KPIs to keep improving these delivery business processes.

As a business owner, you keep track of miles run vs. deliveries done to mark profitability. But what about the vehicle maintenance and engine checkups? How do you schedule vehicle maintenance to keep the business up and running and prevent downtime? 

This is where the concept of “engine hours” comes into play. Engine hours is one such metric that industries relying on machinery and heavy equipment use to optimize business processes. It is essential when you want to know how many hours of usage of machinery, vehicles, and equipment. 

Engine hours help in determining vehicle maintenance schedules, evaluating performance, and assessing the overall condition of the engine. In this blog, we will explore different aspects of engine hours and why it matters to track them for delivery and logistics business.

What are Engine Hours?

Engine hours refer to the total number of hours a vehicle’s engine has been running or in operation, even if the vehicle is not moving. It can be measured during a specific period since it was first put into service or since its last major overhaul or maintenance. It’s like the “clock” that keeps track of how long your delivery vehicles are on the move.

Tracking engine hours is important for logistics companies and fleet managers as they provide valuable information for various aspects of fleet management and operational efficiency. 

Now, you might be wondering, “Why should I calculate engine hours? I schedule my maintenance based on miles covered by the truck.” Well, your truck’s engine hours are more than just a number; they’re a powerful tool for managing your fleet and ensuring the smooth flow of your delivery business. 

Why Tracking Engine Hours Matters For Your Business

Now, why is monitoring engine hours important for your business? As per Straits research, the global vehicle tracking system will reach $60.66 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 13.9%. 

Engine hours serve as a blueprint for maintaining the health and reliability of your delivery fleet. By tracking engine hours, you gain insights into when critical maintenance tasks are due. 

Let’s explore the significance of engine hours in the context of logistics and delivery:

Time and cost savings

Time and cost savings due to engine hours

Unlike calendar-based maintenance, which may result in underutilized or overused equipment, engine hours focus on actual usage. This usage-based approach ensures that maintenance tasks like oil changes, air and fuel filter changes, and other comprehensive inspections are performed when they are genuinely needed, saving time and resources. This prevents unforeseen breakdowns, delays in deliveries, and higher repair costs.

Another important aspect that can help save time and cost is efficient delivery routes for your work trucks. Efficient routes are crucial to reduce fuel costs, maintenance costs, and average time spent on roads. They significantly reduce idling time and vehicle engine usage. 

With Upper, a route planning and optimization software, you can get past constraints like traffic, slow routes, idling time, and inefficiency by having optimized routes for your trucks.

Spend Less Time On the Road While Increasing Efficiency!

Start reducing idling time and saving on fuel costs by optimizing your routes with Upper.

Preventive maintenance

Apart from maintenance schedules, engine hours empower you to adopt proactive strategies like allocating budgeting and resources in advance. By studying historical engine hour data, you can predict when specific vehicle parts or systems are likely to require attention. This preventive maintenance approach reduces downtime so that your deliveries continue without interruption and your customers stay satisfied.

Optimizing vehicle utilization

How efficiently are your delivery vehicles being used? Are some vehicles idling while others are overworked? Engine hours data provides answers to these questions. You can analyze the data to make sure that each vehicle in your fleet is contributing effectively to your delivery operations. This optimization not only reduces operational waste but also maximizes your return on investment.

Compliance and reporting

The logistics and delivery industry often involves strict regulations and standards. Engine hour data is essential for complying with these requirements, whether they pertain to safety, environmental concerns, or maintenance protocols. Keeping accurate engine hour records ensures that you stay on the right side of the law.

Warranty settlement

Many warranties are based on engine hours or a specific time period, whichever comes first. Accurate tracking of engine hours ensures that businesses make warranty claims on time, which can potentially save big money on repair costs.

Resale value and fleet upgrades

When it’s time to sell or upgrade your delivery vehicles, engine hour data plays a pivotal role in determining their resale value. Lower engine hours indicate less vehicle wear and tear, which makes your vehicles more appealing to potential buyers. It’s a vital factor in assessing the condition of your used assets. 

Engine Hours vs Idle Hours

Engine hours represent the total runtime of an engine, encompassing both active usage and idle periods, without distinguishing between the two. This metric is primarily employed for maintenance purposes in various industries. It helps to schedule timely servicing and ensure the engine’s health and reliability over time. 

On the other hand, idle time specifically measures the duration when an engine runs without engaging in productive tasks. Industries use idle time data to pinpoint operational inefficiencies, such as excessive fuel consumption and unnecessary engine wear, aiming to reduce costs by optimizing resource allocation and improving efficiency. 

For example, in the construction industry, engine hours are crucial for timely maintenance, while idle time data is invaluable in logistics to minimize fuel waste and enhance cost-effectiveness.

How are Engine Hours Measured?

Engine hours are typically measured using a device known as an engine hour meter or hour counter. It can be found near your dashboard or instrument panel. These hour meters operate similarly to an odometer in a car, but instead, they record the total time that the engine has been running. 

To measure engine hours, you follow the given steps:

1. Locate the hour meter: Find the hour meter on the truck’s dashboard or instrument panel. Alternatively, if you have a telematics or GPS management system installed, then you need to look into their software for engine hours data. They provide real-time data, including engine hours, through GPS and sensors, offering comprehensive monitoring.

2. Take the start and end readings: Take the meter reading at the start of your vehicle’s operating period. Let’s say it reads 4,872 hours. This will be your starting reading. Now, after you are done operating your vehicle, note the readings as your ending reading. Let’s say it reads 4,879 hours.

3. Calculate recent engine hours: The final step would be to subtract the starting reading from the ending reading. In our example, it would be 4,879 – 4,872 = 7 engine hours.

Remember, engine hours can be different from miles driven, particularly when your vehicle is idle or driven at low speed for a long time.

How to Convert Engine Hours to Miles?

Converting engine hours to miles is not a direct conversion. It depends on several factors like engine type, vehicle or equipment, and usage patterns. However, you can estimate the miles traveled based on average speed and engine hours using the following steps:

1. Determine average speed

First, you need to know the average speed at which the vehicle or equipment operates. This can vary significantly depending on the type of machinery, terrain, and usage. For example, a delivery truck might have an average speed of 40 miles per hour (mph).

2. Calculate estimated miles

Multiply the average speed by the total engine hours to estimate the miles traveled. The formula is:

Estimated Miles = Average Speed (mph) x Engine Hours

For example, if a vehicle has 1,000 engine hours and an average speed of 40 mph:

Estimated Miles = 40 mph x 1,000 hours = 40,000 miles

Keep in mind that this is a rough estimation and may not account for factors like idling time, different operating conditions, or variations in speed. It provides a basic idea of the distance traveled based on engine hours, but for precise mileage, you may need more advanced tracking systems or data from the manufacturer.

Common Misconceptions About Engine Hours

There are many misconceptions about engine hours that people often have. Here are three common misconceptions about engine hours that people often have:

Engine hours equal age

One prevalent misconception is that engine hours directly reflect the age of machinery or vehicles. However, engine hours do not necessarily correlate with the actual age of the equipment. Two machines with the same engine hours may have experienced vastly different conditions and usage patterns. 

Heavy-duty equipment that operates intensively can accumulate high engine hours in a short time, while a less frequently used machine may have a lower engine hour count despite being older.

Low engine hours mean better condition

Another misconception is that lower engine hours always indicate better equipment conditions. While lower hours can be an indicator of less wear and tear, it does not guarantee the overall health of the machinery. 

Neglected maintenance, improper use, or harsh operating environments can lead to significant issues despite low engine hours. Proper inspection and maintenance schedules are essential to assess equipment condition accurately.

Engine hours are uniformly recorded

Some assume that engine hours are consistently and accurately recorded across all equipment. However, discrepancies in hour meter accuracy or deliberate tampering can lead to inaccurate readings. 

In some cases, equipment may not even have a functional hour meter, making it challenging to track engine hours reliably. It’s important for businesses to ensure hour meters are calibrated and well-maintained for accurate data collection.

Frequently Asked Questions

The lifespan of an engine can vary based on factors like maintenance, usage, and engine type. Generally, well-maintained engines can last for thousands of hours, often exceeding 10,000 hours or more in industrial and commercial applications.

Yes, engine hours matter significantly, especially for maintenance and assessing the overall health of an engine or vehicle. Engine hours help determine when maintenance tasks are due and can provide insights into fuel efficiency and usage patterns.

There’s no direct conversion of engine hours to miles because it depends on factors like vehicle speed and operating conditions. On average, 1 engine hour can roughly equate to 25 to 60 miles of travel, but this can vary widely.

Engine hours in a gas truck refer to the total hours the vehicle’s engine has been running, regardless of whether the truck is moving or idling. It’s a measure used for maintenance scheduling and assessing the engine’s condition and usage.

Engine hours measure engine runtime, while the odometer records the distance traveled. They provide different insights into vehicle or equipment usage.

You can access engine hour data through hour meters on the vehicle dashboard, specialized software in GPS management systems, or telematics platforms.

Final Words

Delivery and logistics businesses often look for ways to optimize their business processes. But, they often overlook how engine hours affect their bottom line. Measuring engine hours helps in creating effective maintenance schedules for your vehicles and equipment so that they have less wear and tear and can stay operating for a longer term. It directly results in cost savings and better efficiency.

Tracking engine hours has multiple benefits. They keep your trucks and equipment running by scheduling vehicle maintenance intervals and preventing engine breakdowns. They also help in settling warranty claims and getting higher resale value for your engines, improving the overall efficiency of your business operations.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, author of two defining books on reverse geotagging, is a trusted authority in routing and logistics. His innovative solutions at Upper Route Planner have simplified logistics for businesses across the board. A thought leader in the field, Rakesh's insights are shaping the future of modern-day logistics, making him your go-to expert for all things route optimization. Read more.