As the covid restrictions begin to ease worldwide, the global economy has started to pick up the pace, further pushing energy consumption upwards.
While the wholesale price of oil and gas has shot up due to the rising demand for energy, the retail price of fuel continues to fluctuate and surge all over the world.
After labor costs, fuel is the second biggest pain point for a fleet manager, and hence, a major concern when it comes to budgeting fleet expenses.
This article will provide you with tips on how to cut down fuel costs, improve your fleet’s fuel efficiency, and save money in the long run.
1. Schedule regular maintenance of your fleet.
Well-maintained fleets usually run at their best and consume less fuel.
Make it a policy that the drivers bring in their vehicles for routine maintenance before they depart. Track their compliance through fleet management reports, and take prompt action if and when a driver is negligent.
Don’t let any of your vehicles hit the road without regular washing and maintenance chores.
Accumulated dirt, grime, and grease not only damage the finish of a vehicle but also add weight and increase aerodynamic drag – a force that opposes the motion of an object when it moves through the air.
Excess weight and drag are two of the main causes of high fuel consumption.
Properly inflate your fleet’s tires. Make sure that your drivers keep an air pressure gauge handy and check the tire pressure every time a vehicle is used. Tires that are under-inflated spread out more when they come in contact with the road. This, in turn, increases friction and uneven wear on the tires. As the engine faces resistance from the tire tread with low pressure, it uses (read: wastes) more fuel.
Set a routine, preventive maintenance schedule, that involves regular oil changes, fluid checks and changes, wheel alignments, and cooling system flush/fill. Using the recommended grade of motor oil can also improve the efficiency of a vehicle, and reduce fuel consumption.
As a general rule of thumb, anything that makes the engine work harder robs fuel mileage and increases fuel expense.
2. Monitor your drivers’ speeds.
The driving style of your fleet staff can also have a big impact on how much petrol or gas a vehicle consumes.
Aggressive driving habits like speeding, harsh braking, harsh acceleration, harsh cornering, improper or excessive lane changing, excessive idling, and tailgating can all affect the fuel economy negatively.
When a driver drives recklessly, applies brakes suddenly, or does not accelerate smoothly, they expose the engine and drivetrain to excessive wear and tear, which in turn, burns more fuel to get the vehicle going.
As a fleet manager, you should coach your drivers on safer on-road behaviors.
Use the power of video telematics in fleet management software. Put a driver scorecard in place that calculates the performance of a driver based on how efficiently they drive.
Make the statistics accessible to the entire team; reward top performers; and re-train mediocre and poor performers.
Excessive idling is also one of the reasons your fleet can have a lower gas mileage.
A driver usually idles a vehicle when:
- Warming up the engine,
- Warming up or cooling down the temperature of the vehicle cabin,
- Loading or unloading a vehicle,
- Training new staff
Teach your drivers to turn off the engine if they intend to stop at a place for more than two minutes. Set a time limit for idling while parked or during vehicle warm-up.
3. Optimize your routes and choose smoother roads.
A carefully planned route with smoother terrain and less traffic can go a long way in cutting down on fuel consumption and improving the overall efficiency of the fleet.
Invest in the right routing and geofencing software. Avoid high traffic areas; shorten routes; and schedule more shipments during off-hours (midday, very early in the morning, or late in the evening).
4. Integrate fuel sensors and fuel cards in your fleet management software.
Remember: you cannot control an expense when you don’t know what it is.
A fuel sensor and tracker will help you track and monitor fuel economy, fuel cost, cost per fill-up, and monthly fuel spending of your vehicles.
Introduce a fuel card program with proper controls to manage expenses during fuel refill at a pump. Some of these controls could be:
- Velocity: This will limit the number of times, or for how much, a card can be used.
- Fuel-only: This will force the drivers to purchase fuel only while at the pump, and refrain from adding personal, non-fuel expenses like food, cigarettes, etc to fuel costs.
- Location: This will restrict the drivers to use the card only when they are in a specific geographic location.
The tracker can capture other critical data points as well, such as odometer readings, fuel grade, vehicle number, date & time of fuel purchase, merchant information, etc.
All this information can be mined later to generate detailed reports on how much each driver spends on fuel, compare actual fuel consumption to the maximum quantity of fuel a vehicle can hold at a given time, understand fuel trends for each vehicle, and put matters into perspective.
Imagine how much time and money you can save by simply setting up a fuel management dashboard that displays fuel logs, costs, and tracking charts in real-time!
5. Layoff a vehicle to rightsize the fleet.
Replace older, out-of-shape vehicles with newer, more fuel-efficient ones.
Commercial vehicle companies now build their products with composite body parts which decrease the weight of the vehicle.
The lighter the vehicle, the less fuel it will burn.
With the thousands you’ll end up saving on fuel costs, you can let yourself splurge on a few new additions to your fleet.
Get in touch with our team today and see how iFleet’s proprietary fuel management software can help you monitor and manage your fleet’s fuel consumption, and help your business reduce your fuel costs.