Gas prices are reaching an all-time high in many places all over the US, affecting the supply chain and fleet industry harder than ever. The fleet trucking industry relies on gas as the lifeblood of its operations, and without it, the entire structure collapses. Gas prices are always at the center of fleet industry news and have been a particular focus for the last several months. Fleet managers are left having to make difficult decisions to keep their fleets afloat, and it is challenging to know what to do when no one knows how long this will last. Let’s discuss the severity of this problem and how fleet managers can address it within their businesses.
How is This Surge Affecting Truckers?
Naturally, the surge in gas prices significantly affects fleet businesses’ wallets. Eleanor Tabone of News 19 spoke to a South Carolinian driver who reported spending an extra $1,000 to fill up his semi-truck: “It's impacting me and my business pretty hard. So, that jumps up tremendously from $1,840 to $2,893. So, that’s a little over $1,000 more I would spend a week on fuel.”
This becomes an even more significant problem when considering how it affects businesses as a whole. As an example, Michael Nicholson, who runs The Moving Squad in South Carolina, says that he spends $2,200 every time he needs to fill up his nine trucks. It’s all that he can do to keep his trucks on the go and “figure out the best thing we can do to keep everybody moving, cause we still have all our families to take [care] of, as well.”
South Carolina faces a problem that many states are seeing echoes of: equipment shortages and lack of truck drivers compounded with the surge in gas prices mean that fleets are struggling to stay afloat.
Strain on the Supply Chain
Fleets aren’t the only ones affected by this combination of problems. In a report by Lysée Mitri at KCRA 3, Sanjay Varshney, a Sacramento State University finance professor, proclaims: “Literally, there’s no part of the economy in my opinion that can escape these higher prices for both gas and diesel at the pump." This means that the surge in gas prices will affect the prices of everything, from the food we buy at the grocery store to the clothes we buy off the racks.
Varshney does not predict a quick end to this ordeal, either. "Prices go up almost instantaneously when you see a major crisis, but they take a very long time to come back down.” He says that there must be confidence in increased oil production for prices to lower. Since the U.S. is the largest oil producer, it may be on us to provide that reassurance. However, that may take some time.
How Can Fleets Respond?
Fleet managers can’t stop spending money on fuel, and cutting back on other areas of spending can hurt a business’s productivity, safety, or efficiency. None of that is necessary if you invest in the right technology that helps you reduce fuel use. This section will discuss some technology solutions and other tools that your fleet can use to reduce fuel use and save money at the pump.
- Route Planning Software: Route planning software uses algorithms and machine learning to get your vehicles to their destinations in the most efficient manner possible. It can avoid traffic, construction sites, slower zones, and other delays that waste your fuel. It also helps you decide the correct number of vehicles to put on the road so you are using your resources effectively.
- Telematics to Track Speeding: Two primary driving behaviors that affect your fuel usage significantly: speeding and idling. Speeding is a negative habit for many reasons, not the least of which is safety. High-speed accidents are more likely to be fatal, result in costly fines, and hurt your business’s reputation. On top of that, they waste fuel. For every five miles that your vehicles travel over 50 miles per hour, you’re paying an additional $0.20 per gallon of gas. You can track speeding with telematics and get alerts when your drivers exceed the speed limit.
- Telematics to Track Idling: Meanwhile, idling is another concern that may be plaguing you more than you think. Drivers taking lunch breaks, making phone calls, waiting on customers or colleagues, or even doing clerical work in the truck may result in idling that wastes your fuel. Idling wastes about 0.8 gallons of fuel per hour, and if you add up all of these tasks, you can see how this can become costly. You can track idling as well with telematics. Your fleet management software can even tell you how much fuel you’re wasting based on your fleet’s idling behaviors.
- Promote Safe Driving Behavior: There are so many driving behaviors that lead to fuel waste. When your drivers slam on the accelerator, hit the brakes hard, or speed up and slow down, this can waste more fuel than you think. When you create policies that emphasize safe driving behavior, not only are you preventing accidents and keeping everyone on the road safe, but you are also saving money on fuel.
- Keep Vehicles Maintained: When your vehicles run efficiently, they use their fuel more efficiently. One particular aspect of vehicle maintenance you should watch is your tires. Underinflated or improperly aligned tires can severely impact your fuel economy. These are easy fixes that will save you hundreds if you stay on top of them.
Invest in the Best to Start Saving
Not just any technology will do when you want to save money and make your fleet more efficient. Azuga’s experts have created the finest tools at prices tailored to your business’s needs, so you can address these problems head-on. Try out a demo of our offerings today and see what we can do together.