There are several factors that can impact the fuel efficiency of the trucks in your fleet. These include vehicle specifications, engine design, and fuel system factors. While many of these things are out of the direct control of fleet managers, there are some things that can be done to maximize fuel efficiency. Driver behavior, fleet maintenance, and route logistics are all areas managers can monitor and influence.
A fleet fuel card can help managers stay on top of fuel efficiency. Here are three rules for maximizing the fuel efficiency of your fleet.
The way your drivers handle their trucks on the road is a key factor in achieving fuel efficiency. While you want drivers to be efficient with their time and arrive at their destination as quickly as possible, driving at high speeds only reduces fuel economy. Shifting to higher gears also increases the amount of fuel that is used by a truck. Online reporting tools from your fleet fuel card enables you to see the fuel economy of the each of the vehicles in your fleet. This makes it easier to hold drivers accountable for how they operate their vehicles and for achieving fuel efficiency goals.
Taking care of basic, daily maintenance goes a long way to helping with fuel economy. For example, tire pressure levels should be checked every day because driving with all tires underinflated results in a significant drop in fuel economy. Keep in mind that trailer tires have a larger effect on fuel economy, so it’s important to make sure they are included in regular inspections.
Engine operating conditions also impact fuel performance. In fact, for every 30 degree drop in lube temperature there is a one percent drop in fuel economy. Make sure coolant and lubricant oil are operating at ideal temperatures before your trucks head out for a long haul.
Work with drivers to carefully plan the routes your trucks are taking to reach their destinations. Operating in hilly and mountainous terrain forces your trucks to expend more energy, resulting in lower fuel efficiency. Also, keep in mind that east to west routes face near continuous head winds and crosswinds while north to south routes typically use less fuel. It is also important to route trucks around traffic congestion because idling is also costly. Every hour of idle time during a long-haul operation decreases fuel efficiency by one percent. Fuel stops should also be planned into the route. Use a fleet fuel card that is accepted at a wide range of locations so that drivers don’t have to waste fuel searching for a place to gas up.