The cost of diesel fuel has traditionally been one of the largest expenses for trucking and transportation businesses. As a company owner or fleet manager, finding ways to utilize fuel more efficiently can reduce your operating costs and boost productivity. For most companies, a multipronged approach consisting of monitoring and improving driver behavior, instituting stringent vehicle maintenance practices, implementing telematics, and taking the time to "spec" trucks delivers the best results.
The way your drivers operate your trucks directly impacts fuel consumption and how much your company spends on fuel. Even the most conscientious drivers can develop wasteful habits. One of the most reliable ways to reduce fleet and fuel costs is providing coaching and training to help your operators modify their behaviors while they're behind the wheel.
Your training should focus on fuel-efficient driving practices such as:
Trucks spend a lot of time on the road, especially those used in long-haul operations. Regular maintenance helps to prevent unexpected breakdowns that put drivers well behind schedule and pose potential safety risks. A well-maintained vehicle also runs more efficiently and consumes less fuel, leading to significant cost savings.
When setting up your fleet's maintenance schedule, consider factors such as your vehicles' engine service hours, miles driven, and the time interval — heavily used trucks require more frequent service. You and your drivers should pay close attention to engine fault codes, as they allow you to identify minor issues before they become serious performance problems.
Tire pressure is another simple but often overlooked maintenance area that directly impacts fuel consumption. Underinflated tires require more acceleration to achieve the desired speed, which burns extra fuel.
A Fleet Telematics System (FTS) facilitates the exchange of information between vehicles and fleet managers. By providing more insight into a truck's operation and condition, these systems can help to reduce fuel costs in several ways:
Choosing the most appropriate truck specs is another way to reduce fleet costs. For example, truck engines are available in multiple sizes, each of which can accommodate different load types. If your drivers typically carry heavy loads over rough terrain, a low-horsepower engine will require additional fuel to meet the increased demand. Conversely, a high-horsepower engine isn't the most fuel-efficient solution when hauling lighter loads.
Trailer aerodynamics is another vehicle spec that affects fuel consumption. Attaching trailer skirts to the underbody can reduce fuel-wasting drag by preventing wind from reaching underneath during highway travel. If your fleet consists of older trucks, installing a gap management device can often correct aerodynamics-related issues.
Rand McNally Fleet offers a full complement of fleet management solutions that can help your transportation company reduce fuel costs. We can provide advanced telematics to track your drivers' habits and monitor your vehicles' maintenance needs. You'll save money on diesel fuel and experience improved fleet performance.
Contact us today to learn more about our telematics solutions and how they can benefit your business or request a product demo. We can also provide more helpful tips for lowering fleet fuel costs in your trucking operations.