These 5 simple steps can help minimise your fleet fuel costs. Reducing your fleet’s spend on fuel will always improve your bottom line.
Since fuel and labour are the top two operating expenses for businesses in today’s challenging economy, efficient fuel utilisation is essential.
Fuel prices are uncontrollable and, as these costs rise, profits diminish.
In order to offset rising fuel costs, businesses normally find that they need to make efficiencies in other areas of the organisation that can affect growth. Finding ways to reduce fuel costs, without cutting staff or vehicle numbers, is paramount to maintaining a successful business.
Fleet managers need to embrace best practices in fleet management, including new technology, in order to reduce fuel consumption and better prepare their organisation for the future.
ONE – Use the right vehicle for the job
Vehicle specifications are an important factor in achieving savings. This is not simply due to the depreciation, there are also some hidden areas that you should consider.
An example of this may be choosing the correct vehicle for the job. This is often overlooked when purchasing a vehicle; the correct weight, engine specifications, engine torque and power for the required use is critical. If you select an engine with either too much or too little power this can lead to inefficiencies in fuel economy. Choosing a smaller engine with less power may also result in lower fuel economy if the vehicle is straining to carry the cargo weight.
TWO – Change driver behaviour
Driver training – even a few simple changes in driving techniques can produce sizable fuel savings. Excessive speeding is dangerous and burns extra fuel, adding risk and expense to overall fleet operations. The Freight Transport Association report that a 5% reduction in fuel consumption can be achieved simply by reducing your speed from 56 to 50 mph.
Idling can also be an issue as running at idle speed dramatically reduces engine life and directly impacts fuel economy. One extra hour a day of idling is equivalent to 58,000 miles of engine wear over the life of the vehicle. This prematurely ages the vehicle which also impacts fuel economy and efficiency. According to a Driving for Better Business report, two minutes idling uses the same amount of fuel as that required to drive one mile.
Finally, training drivers about the importance of reducing cargo weight will impact the fuel economy of a fleet vehicle. How many drivers carry tools or equipment that is used once a year?
THREE – Deploy better maintenance planning
Proactive vehicle maintenance means that a properly maintained engine will operate more efficiently than a neglected one, saving money and fuel expense. Proactive maintenance can also make other savings, for example, unplanned maintenance work that puts a vehicle off the road can cost a business between £1500 – £3000 per day.
Studies have proven that proper tyre pressure not only enhances fuel economy but also improves the useful life of the tyre itself. Carrying out regular walk around checks ensures that tyres are properly looked after. You may be surprised to know that under-inflated tyres diminish vehicle mileage by increasing the tyre rolling resistance, making it more difficult for the engine to move the vehicle along the road. Something as simple as under-inflated tyres could be adding an additional 1-2 per cent in fuel usage to your fleet.
FOUR – Utilise vehicle tracking
Route planning and use of ‘live’ satnav can help drivers shorten driving times and avoid traffic jams.
Installing vehicle tracking also encourages drivers to be more accountable and to have safer driving habits. Once employees know you are monitoring their driving style, they tend to take greater care in how they are using company vehicles. This improved behaviour will save fuel, reduce unsafe driving and enhance your businesses reputation with the public.
The most expensive mile you’ll ever drive is the one you didn’t need to. According to the RHA Goods Vehicle Operation Costs Report 2018, the average operating cost is £0.63 per mile. If the average number of miles driven each year is 100,000 per vehicle and 10 per cent of that is out of route miles (OOR miles), companies could save £6,300 per vehicle, per year just by effectively and efficiently cutting OOR miles.
Five – Manage and monitor your fleet data
Is your business at risk of fuel theft that you might be unaware of? Fuel theft and unauthorised fuel purchases could be costing your business more than you realise.
With accurate reporting, you can monitor each vehicle’s fuel usage, economy and mileage. This can help detect any abnormalities when compared with vehicle averages.
While traditional fleet management practices such as whiteboards or spreadsheets may remain effective in certain circumstances, other options are available which may provide you with better control on costs as well as compliance.
Dedicated fleet management technology, such as FleetCheck, will join up all the information you need by leveraging data such as fuel consumption, fuel efficiency, driver training and maintenance schedules. This can help your business save thousands of pounds a year in lost profits.
FleetCheck integrates with multiple providers, such as telematics and fuel card companies giving robust reporting including fuel exception reports. This means you will be able to highlight improper fuel purchases such as multiple fill-ups in a day, instances where more fuel has been purchased than a vehicle can hold, and anomalies such as petrol purchases for a diesel vehicle.
Live alerts and notifications for scheduled maintenance based on variables such as miles driven, time duration or date plus vehicle summary reports will also ensure each vehicle in the fleet is operating as efficiently as possible.
As you well know, keeping control is the key. The old adage is true, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. If you don’t implement the correct tools to define and track your fuel you can’t know if you are being successful in minimising the cost.
Once you have these measures in place you can be sure you are on the right road to success and may save up to 10-15 per cent on annual fuel costs.