Fuel consumption is one of the biggest costs for fleets. Even small changes in how fleets manage fuel consumption can lead to big savings. Some of the strategies that work well in reducing costs include correct tire pressure, minimal truck idling, best driving practices, a driver reward program and using the right vehicle on each job.
Advanced and connected telematics systems also help managers choose the right options when they focus on how to manage fuel consumption. These systems can provide managers real-time reports on fuel consumption, broken down by specific time periods, routes or drivers.
These systems give fleet managers a big advantage when it comes to managing fuel costs.
Tips to Manage Fuel Consumption
Most fleet managers find that there is not just one option that will result in big fuel savings. Instead, they focus on putting a combination of the following ideas – or all of them – into play. Over time, they lead to reduced fuel consumption and significant cost savings.
Correct Tire Pressure
One of the biggest keys to fuel efficiency are properly inflated tires. Experts estimate that just one PSI under a tire’s recommended pressure will result in losing about 0.2% in fuel efficiency. That adds up quickly given the miles most commercial vehicle drive and the fact most tires run at more than just one PSI below recommended pressure.
Fleet managers can create a tire pressure monitoring system using telematics that report tire pressure daily for each vehicle equipped with the proper monitors and software systems. Some fleets also incorporate a check of the tire pressure in the pre-start checklist for each driver.
Minimal Truck Idling
Depending on the weather, many drivers may start their trucks early, giving them time to warm up. This can prove costly over time in terms of fuel consumption. The federal Environmental Protection Agency reports that just one hour of idling a day burns one gallon of gas. They also use information from the American Trucking Association that shows idling costs as much as $2,000 each year in maintenance costs per vehicle because running an engine at low speed leads to more wear and tear than running an engine at normal speeds.
Best Driving Practices
One of the in-cab advantages for telematics systems is that they can coach drivers in real-time, sending alerts when drivers exhibit driving behavior that does not adhere to best practices. For example, sudden acceleration, sudden stops and driving too fast can all lead to burning fuel at a higher rate than necessary. These actions also can lead to higher maintenance costs because of wear and tear on the vehicle.
Create A Rewards Program
Some fleet managers create a rewards program to give drivers an incentive to put best driving practices to use that reduce fuel consumption. Fleets come out ahead because drivers can work toward fuel conservation goals that save them money, and drivers have the advantage of earning special rewards for reaching those goals. Rewards programs also can help fleets attract and retain the best drivers in the industry.
Using the Right Vehicle
Fleet managers who have the advantage of different vehicle options will find they can achieve fuel consumption savings by matching the right vehicle to the right job. For example, electric vehicles might work best for last-mile, short distance deliveries that require a lot of starting and stopping. Also, smaller engine vehicles will help save fuel for delivering lighter loads.
Monitor Fuel Use
Connected telematics systems allow fleet managers to monitor the use of fuel by all fleet vehicles, giving them a real-time picture of fuel consumption and a better idea of what fuel-saving options to choose that will save the most money. Advanced software systems also allow managers to create reports that cover the time period of their choice and include factors such as fuel consumed, distance covered and overall fuel economy for a vehicle. Putting software systems to use gives fleet managers more information and helps them make better informed, data-driven decisions. That provides a big advantage to fleets that want to get one of the industry’s biggest expenses under control.