Fleet managers face many challenges in reducing company costs and liabilities. For most managers, the largest challenge is fuel cost. Fleet drivers often work 40-60 hours a week and drive tens of thousands of miles each year. Truck fuel isn’t exactly affordable, either. Luckily, there are several ways to control fuel consumption and spare expenses. Learn how to reduce fuel consumption in trucks using the tips and tricks below.
How to Increase Fuel Efficiency on a Truck
There are dozens of ways to reduce truck fuel consumption, but there is one move you can make that will impact every part of your business: install a telematics system. Telematics and fleet management systems roll many benefits into one package; we’ll discuss each one in the sections below.
Route Optimization & Route Planning
Telematics route optimization utilizes algorithms to determine the best route for your fleet. It takes into consideration possible setbacks, including accidents, bad weather conditions, traffic, and much more. It then calculates all possible routes to the destination. As you’re on the road, it can update drivers with real-time alterations to ensure they’re always on the fastest route. By following the fastest route, your drivers will idle less. Idling is one of the largest factors in fuel consumption. In fact, a long-haul truck idles around 1,800 hours annually, guzzling approximately 1,500 gallons of fuel. Route optimization helps reduce idle and drive time, but it can also decrease fuel consumption by providing drivers with efficient directions to multiple locations in order to minimize gas mileage.
Fuel cards offer discounts and perks when buying fuel at specific locations. Supplying drivers with fuel cards ensures that you're maximizing benefits and prevents unauthorized purchases.
Another benefit is that you can—and should—link fuel cards with your telematics system. Telematics devices track fuel consumption, fueling stops, fuel-wasting behaviors, and more. It helps you identify your weak points so you can formulate solutions that reduce their impact. In addition, your integrated route planner can link with fuel cards to optimize a route using the gas stations you receive perks at.
Better Driving Behaviors
Excessive speeding and acceleration result in high fuel consumption. Any mile per hour driven over 65 mph decreases the fuel economy of the truck by a mile per gallon, though speeds as high as 55 mph will alter the fuel economy, as well. These numbers pose significant problems for a fleet, but most fleets drive on the highway and regularly reach speeds of at least 55 mph. Therefore, speed isn’t the only driver behavior that managers should monitor. Telematics gives you insight into braking, aggressive driving, and so much more, all of which increase truck fuel consumption. Better driving improves fuel economy and reduces costs to your fleet.
Preventative maintenance is the key to protecting your cash flow. When a fleet vehicle is well maintained, it operates at top efficiency. This means it’s less likely to break down, its tires will remain fully inflated, and it will consume less fuel. Telematics systems monitor fleet vehicle diagnostics and performance. The system can maintain a regular maintenance schedule, as well as provide alerts for any mechanical issues that may arise.
Fuel Tax Credit
Telematics systems file your mileage and track your fuel consumption. This automatic logging makes it far easier to report mileage and fuel costs in business tax returns. As a fleet company, you can deduct these figures from your revenue and earn a fuel tax credit.
Optimizing Fleet Utilization
Asset tracking and fleet tracking allow you to see where all of your assets are at once. This allows you to deploy the nearest resources to wherever you need them and shows you which assets are used most. The telematics system can also display usage trends, thereby helping you determine which assets are worth investing in and where you can cut costs.
In addition to this, a telematics system can determine how many assets you’d need for a job. For example, you might estimate that it will take 10 vehicles, but the software shows it’ll only require seven. It may suggest larger vehicles, different routes, and so forth.
How to Reduce Fuel Consumption Beyond a Telematics System
A telematics system makes your fleet more efficient and saves the company money. However, it isn’t the only solution to control fuel consumption. Below are several other ways to conserve fuel and they’re relatively easy to implement.
- Establish minimum MPG requirements for your vehicles. Many fleets base their requirements on EPA ratings, a good standard for all fleets.
- Spec four-cylinder engines to reduce fuel spend. Four-cylinder engines are frequently turbocharged. This gives you the benefit of extra power and a higher mpg.
- Fill your fleet with gas-saving trucks. Adding hybrids to your fleet can create significant savings.
- Increase personal use charges or eliminate personal use. Fuel prices have increased, so keep personal fuel charges to a minimum. Many companies experience higher personal use expenses than are adequately recouped. Examining this in your own fleet helps to stamp down excessive personal use and expenses.
- Implore progressive shifting, or the use of the lowest engine RPMs in each gear shift. It’s not necessary to accelerate to the highest rpm before shifting; doing so eats up much more fuel than most drivers are aware of.
- Following distance and road speed limits can increase semi-truck fuel economy. Increasing the following distance also limits the need for braking and acceleration.
- Utilize cruise control as much as possible. Some fleet vehicles, especially smaller vehicles, include adaptive cruise control. This allows you to set a distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. It then maintains that distance and sets speed automatically. This requires less braking and acceleration, which use more fuel.
- Minimize truck overload. It’s both a safety risk and a gas waster.
- Implement a training course to help drivers be more energy conscious. This may include things such as not overfilling your gas tank or using the A/C less often.
There are dozens of ways to improve trucking fuel economy and reduce costs to your fleet. One of the most impactful measures is to implement a telematics system. Azuga telematics, asset and fleet tracking, and dashcams help reduce costs to your fleet. We save you money, so you can focus on other important aspects of your business, like your customers.
Learn more about Azuga telematics system today.