Fuel costs are one of the highest fixed expenses when it comes to fleet management. They can guzzle up to 60% of the total operating costs of the fleet. As a fleet manager, even a small increase in fuel consumption can lead to a massive increase in fuel costs. Several factors go behind fuel consumption. Not all of them are in the hands of the driver or the fleet company. However, drivers and fleet managers can work together to improve fuel economy in fleet. Small and marginal improvements and practices can often be the deciding factor when it comes to improve fuel efficiency.
Practices to improve fuel economy
Fuel efficiency is the amount of distance a vehicle can cover on a specific volume of fuel. Fuel efficiency is crucial for fleet businesses due to its high impact on the cost of operations. As such, it is important to look at some simple practices that can improve fuel economy of your fleet.
Employ efficient driving practices
A cross country truck on average idle for 6-8 hours a day. Now multiply this by 300 for a year and you’d get a huge number. Additionally, a sudden decrease or increase in the speed of the vehicle can also cause up to 20% more fuel consumption. All these things can add up to thousands of litres of fuel wasted.
Further, common practices like sudden braking, coasting and going above the speed limit can also impact fuel economy. All these small things might not seem like a major problem. But in aggregate they can pose huge problems for a fleet.
Drivers are thus an integral part when it comes to improve fuel economy. Incorporating simple driving habits like going at the speed limit, smooth braking and accelerating, and turning off the engine when idle for a long time can go a long way to improve fuel economy.
To promote and keep track of efficient driving practices businesses can consider opting for fuel management systems. These services provide insight into fuel usage and consumption. It can help the drivers identify problem areas and improve upon them.
Ensure timely vehicle maintenance schedule
For a vehicle to operate efficiently, it needs proper regular maintenance. To ensure the health of your fleet, make sure you go through proper and timely maintenance of your vehicles. Things like old air filters and unchanged motor oil can cause fuel costs to go up. Regular maintenance will keep fuel costs down by ensuring there are no issues that consume more fuel than necessary.
Other things like partially inflated tires can also increase the operating costs of your fleet. Partially inflated tires don’t roll properly and increase the resistance, thereby requiring more fuel for movement. Proper alignment of wheels can also help in minimising resistance and giving you more kilometres per litre.
Fleet maintenance is very crucial for the proper functioning of a fleet. Lack of proper maintenance can lead to the breakdown of a vehicle. The breakdown of a vehicle not only decreases the capacity of the fleet but also results in significant downtime. This can be very expensive for a business. In worst cases, the vehicle might even need to be replaced.
Fleet Maintenance is especially important for large fleets that have vehicles in excess of 100. In such cases, it can be difficult to keep track and schedule the maintenance of each vehicle. A lot of fleet management solutions come with solutions that help with fleet maintenance. They can help track and schedule maintenance by keeping note of kilometres driven, time or engine hour.
Be on the lookout for fuel theft
With ever-increasing cases of fuel theft, identifying whether a fuel transaction is for your fleet vehicle or not can be challenging. Without proper tracking and data, this can lead to cases of fraud. Such frauds often go on for long periods of time before they are uncovered. Even when they are, it can be difficult and time-consuming to investigate such cases. Further manual cases of fuel drainage can also occur from time to time.
Thankfully fleet management software can help out here. They can help identify the exact station where a vehicle gets fueled. Fuel reports help you ensure that the transaction gets completed. In addition, they also alert fleet managers in case of high fuel drainage. Such solutions can help businesses identify suspicious activities and quickly resolve frauds.
Do not overload vehicles
Overloading should be avoided at all costs. It can be tempting to load more than the designated capacity for the sake of maximising the efficacy of the trip. However, in the long term, overloading only serves to decrease fuel economy. It further causes problems like engine strains which can cause permanent damage to the machinery and cause it to break down.
Overloading also increases the wear and tear of the vehicle. This can cause wearing out of tires, making the vehicles more prone to accidents and negatively affect safety. Overloading is also penalised under various sections of the law. Driving an overloading vehicle can lead to licence seizure and monetary fines.
Integrating the fleet with smart routing capabilities
A number of routes can lead to the same destination. And at times, some are more efficient than others. Route planning software can allow for more efficient transport operation by finding the most efficient route for the trip. The data stored also provides insights for better management of routes.
Real-time navigation helps the fleet cut operating costs by rerouting to save time and fuel. It offers live road conditions, ETA and tracking among others. Drivers and businesses can find out the most effective route and decrease the overall fleet costs. Such services also come in handy when avoiding tolls and other routes with heavy traffic.
Fuel costs remain one of the leading budget guzzlers when it comes to fleet management. This will likely remain the same for the immediate future. As such businesses must integrate technologies that can help them efficiently manage their fleet and decrease fuel consumption. The solution to any problem starts from a small single step. Even marginal improvements can improve fuel economy. Fleet managers can follow this guide to improve fuel economy of their fleet and reduce their overall costs.
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