Gasoline prices can spike any time of the year for a number of reasons, but traditionally fuel costs tend to rise over the summer. Although this summer’s prices are predicted to be lower than last year, it’s always important to optimize your fleet performance when margins are tight — whether because of fuel or other expenses fleet owners face.
Think long and hard about your fleet vehicles and their age, condition, and MPG ratings. Is it time to upgrade? Even if your trucks are newer, have there been any recent innovations you can add? Are you planning load sizes appropriately to optimize vehicle capacity? These are just a few questions to be asking (and answering) to find out how to finally control costs.
Choose Vehicles Wisely
Be honest — it could be time to downsize, expand, or upgrade your vehicles. Although buying new-to-you vehicles may seem like a daunting up-front cost, it’s important to calculate long-term savings over the timeline of ownership. Compare current MPG data points to the MPG ratings of new vehicles to help connect the dots.
Another option is to invest in vehicles that use alternative fuel vehicles that use biodiesel, ethanol, or even electricity. Several areas of the country have built infrastructure to support these alt-fuel trucks and if your toutes cross into this territory it could offer fuel and cost savings to make the switch.
Even if there isn’t a budget for new trucks, it’s worth time and money to think about ways to make vehicles more aerodynamic. Adding spoilers and removing roof racks are two small ways to help reduce drag and increase fuel economy. Once you’ve done that, move your most efficient vehicles to the top of the list.
Older vehicles will generally be less efficient, even if the maintenance has been consistent and thorough. Added weight from larger loads could drag down efficiency and raise costs even more, so offset that additional expense by strategically planning routes and load sizes.
Will your drivers be heading into the city? Idle time is a huge factor in efficiency, so send your best vehicles on these deliveries. Headed cross-country? Sleeper cabs with air conditioning are great for long hauls, but they too present an issue for efficiency; keep that in mind during planning sessions.
While route plans may be regular and consistent, fleet owners also need to take extra steps to allow for reroutes or emergency deliveries, especially if an organization is working hard to keep up with customer demand due to the “Amazon effect” of prioritized shipping.
Make Time for Maintenance
Preventive maintenance plans are a must for every fleet of every size, and there’s no shortage of tools that can help owners track basic maintenance tasks that could go a long way towards fuel efficiency. Taking these small but effective steps can also help avoid costly repairs and downtime.
Work from the ground up by making sure your tires are right for driving conditions, not too wide, and in good condition — all of which are factors that can help improve fuel economy. From there, move to the engine, where oil should be changed regularly and air conditioning components need to be systematically checked for leaks or buildup.
Don’t neglect the outside, either! Something as simple as keeping trucks clean and free of buildup or bugs can improve aerodynamics and efficiency, and reduce drag. Cleaning is a great time to check for the functionality of aerodynamic add-ons — after all, they won’t work if they’re damaged or working improperly.
Tackle it with Tech
Did you know it’s estimated that 6 billion gallons of fuel are wasted in the US alone due to idle time? For multi-vehicle fleets with many moving parts, that’s a great deal of data to track and analyze to find opportunities to cut fuel costs and boost efficiency.
Regardless of the age or condition of fleet vehicles, there’s guaranteed to be a tech tool out there that will help optimize fuel efficiency from all areas of the vehicle. Real-time data can be collected and transmitted to fleet managers so the entire organization can have a better look at performance.
Automated management and remote access can go a long way to support how fleet owners understand the opportunities for performance optimization. These numbers are also useful for monitoring driver behavior and identifying areas for further training and awareness on fuel costs and efficiency.
Over the years, several methods of cost savings have withstood the test of time. Keeping these considerations in mind can help you streamline your processes, save money, and boost fleet-wide efficiency. Pair this sound approach with Idle Smart for a comprehensive approach to cost management — learn more about meeting (and exceeding) fleet goals.