Telematics, incentives and equipment can help road fleets beat $4 per gallon diesel
7 Ways to Reduce Fleet Fuel Costs
As diesel prices soared past $4 per gallon - the highest in four years - trucking companies have sought out innovative ways to curb fuel costs. Take for example Coca-Cola, which reported that in 2011 it saved 1 million gallons, or about 4.8 percent of fuel costs, thanks to electric and hybrid trucks and a driver training program.
"There is a lot companies can do to improve fuel costs," says Roger Brunner, Executive Vice President of Casualty & Property Products, Zurich North America. "New communications technology as well as management tools can make a big difference." Consider these steps for getting the most out of your fleet and crew:
- Consider low-emission, fuel-efficient diesel and natural gas rigs. An investment now can pay off later (or sooner, if fuel costs continue to skyrocket).
- Streamlined cab designs with features that allow wind to flow more freely around the cab and trailer to cut down on drag - and fuel costs.
- Telematics software allows for dynamic communication between the driver, the truck, and headquarters. These systems can consider road conditions and traffic to improve routing, shut down after a certain period of idling, and track driver habits. Verizon reported that employees who paid attention to idling reduced fuel consumption by more than 1 million gallons last year - the equivalent of taking 1,600 vehicles off the road for an entire year. In a recent white paper, telematics systems maker NexTraq estimates that small fleets of 25 vehicles can save 600 gallons of fuel a year by reducing their idling time by just 15 minutes per day, and that one extra hour per day of idling is equivalent to 64,000 miles of engine wear.
- Telematics combined with good record keeping can help create strategies to buy fuel at the lowest price by locating preferred gas stations in relation to truck location
- Invest in driver training. "Drivers are people," Brunner says. "Some like to go fast around corners and some are heavy on the breaks. Telematics can communicate these habits, and help you train for more efficiency." Coca-Cola reports that their training program reduced the percentage of time trucks were idling from 30 percent down to 10 percent.
- NexTraq estimates that properly inflated tires, timely oil changes and other routine maintenance can save up to 10 percent on fuel.
- Create incentive plans for drivers with the highest mile-per-gallon records. Give prizes for the drivers with the best records per month, quarter and year.
What do you think? Do you think trucking companies should be forced to invest in fuel-saving fleet improvements?