Ways To Reduce Fleet Fuel Costs

Every organization that strives to maintain a positive bottom line and continued financial success requires all departments to keep a stringent eye on expenses. 

Commercial trucking enterprises operate hundreds of vehicles from locations throughout the United States. The fuel costs of transportation contribute a large chunk towards the total; approximately 60% of overall operating costs. Companies that strive to optimize logistics operations must find ways to minimize fuel expenses and one of the best ways to do that is by managing these cost with a fuelz card.

Fuel is a highly volatile commodity, and its price remains subject to frequent fluctuations. Though low fuel prices have contributed to decreased fuel expenditures in the past, economic uncertainties create possibilities of future price hikes requiring alternative and affordable solutions.

A fleet manager in-charge of decreasing operational expenses can exercise his authority to implement cost-cutting practices, and policies that reflect gains in future profit and loss statements. Through this article, we seek to inform you of a few ways to reduce the fuel costs of your fleet.

Driver Training and Engagement

A fleet business must engage with its drivers to raise awareness in regards to fuel saving methods.  Many businesses provide company cars and offer employees fuel allowances. By stressing the importance of responsible fuel consumption, a corporate culture can be molded where employees themselves monitor their fuel usage and act accordingly and responsibly to minimize personal fuel expenditure.

Additionally, a fleet company should provide training on economical driving techniques to show drivers ways to reduce fuel consumption while on a hauling run. However, it is important to note that while training initially shows immediate improvements, the results tend to wear off with time. Consistent training programs and employee engagement should be scheduled to ensure retention and conditioning.

To further prolong and ensure training pays off, companies can even look to merge technology with training. Telematics systems provide the GPS positioning of each vehicle operated in a fleet – when drivers know they are being monitored, unnecessary mileage is reduced and drivers will use optimum routes to reach their destinations (more on this later).

The system checks, balances, and provides an analysis through which the weak performers can be weeded out. Drivers that perform poorly can be focused upon individually to understand why they utilize more fuel. Issues such as tough schedules, faulty vehicles, or difficult routes can then be assessed and corrected through guidance, without resorting to penalties.

Better Routing Through Telematics

As a management solution, telematics help drivers reduce miles driven by 10% percent. Through GPS integration, fleet managers can plan out the most efficient routes as they have access to maps that not only track the vehicle and its route, but also provide real-time traffic conditions until the final destination has been reached.

The software package allows managers to monitor weather patterns and traffic conditions, which proves useful in planning the best routes and improving the overall efficiency of the fleet; simultaneously reducing fuel costs.

Vehicle idling is another common cause for excess fuel usage – traffic congestions, and sub-optimal routes increase a truck’s engine’s idling time.  A fleet’s idling averages are found to be as high as 40% of operation time. This means that for almost half the time the engine was running it was burning fuel while the vehicle was at a standstill. Fleet managers should note idling times and address the issue by improving routing.

Evaluate the Existing Fleet and Maintenance

When looking to cut fuel costs, a fleet manager can miss the entire point of fleet management, thanks to its many diverse and important realms, and ignore the vehicles that comprise the fleet. Fleet operations vary in size, and while for certain companies, the best solution may be to reduce the number of vehicles entirely; for others, the right choice could be in transitioning to fuel-efficient vehicles.

The solution demands that the organization evaluates the total mileage of older vehicles in the fleet and replaces them with vehicles that have smaller engines, are lighter in weight, and showcase improved fuel efficient capabilities. The newest additions must be able to meet the demands of the business yet display functionality that is superior to the previous models.

Trucks that are well-maintained operate at maximum efficiency, providing optimum fuel consumption. A fleet manager must create a service schedule in which every vehicle receives the maintenance necessary – entailing a thorough check and service of all its parts to ensure maximum performance gains.

Even the most minor of checkups should cover tire pressure. The under-inflation of a tire is known to have a serious negative impact on fuel consumption. Tires that aren’t properly inflated give a reduced mileage and burn excess fuel. A good practice is to check your fleet’s tire pressure before each run.

Maintenance schedules can prevent trucks from premature wear and tear and prolong the useful life of a costly and important investment. By incorporating technology, providing training. and ingraining a culture of responsibility and accountability, a business can look to reduce fuel expenses that can majorly cut into its returns.