For motor carriers, fuel is the second highest budget item and for some companies it is threatening to surpass personnel costs. What’s more, diesel prices continue to inch higher and industry analysts expect fuel costs to remain volatile throughout 2012 and into 2013. Managing fuel spend is an important aspect of a fleet’s operation. Pennies on the gallon matter and with the right technology, equipment and driver behavior, carriers can better manage fuel costs and improve efficiency.
Spec the Right Truck: the environment a fleet runs in, the weight of the payload they carry, and the type of trailers they haul all affect fuel economy, and selecting the right truck for the job can significantly improve miles per gallon. There are many features that impact fuel economy, such as the type of tires used, the rear-axle rations, aerodynamic features and auxiliary power units. For example, every two percent reduction in aerodynamic drag can improve fuel efficiency by one percent. To best match a carriers’ need with the right vehicles, they should carefully detail their applications, such as local, regional or long haul; and their environment, whether it is urban, rural or highway. By digging down into the details of their operations, carriers can ensure they best match their applications with the right truck capabilities.
Maximize Driver Performance: shifting, braking and accelerating all effect fuel economy. By properly training drivers, carriers can ramp up their miles per gallon while also increasing safety. When drivers decrease their speed and use cruise control, they improve fuel economy. Cruise control creates a smoother, more fuel-efficient throttle than a driver could achieve on his own. Proper acceleration in which a driver achieves cruising speed promptly while avoiding full throttle also saves fuel. By minimizing the amount of hard braking a driver does, carriers can further improve fuel efficiency. Drivers who anticipate stops and brake slowly can save as much as 10 percent of fuel over those who routinely drive with hard acceleration and braking.
Cut Idle Time: idling can burn 1.2 gallons of fuel per hour and decreases engine life. Through the use of idle reduction technology, such as auxiliary power units, and by only warming engines up for the minimum time needed, carriers can help minimize unnecessary idling. In addition, educating drivers about the costs associated with idling and offering driver incentives can further reduce idling.
Control Speed: in addition to training drivers to maintain safe speeds, carriers can also set maximum speed limits for their vehicles. They should also encourage drivers to rely on their cruise control options. Fuel economy can be improved by as much as 10 percent when cruise control is fully utilized.
Maintain Vehicles: by regularly maintaining vehicles and analyzing vehicle performance at scheduled preventative maintenance intervals, carriers can further improve fuel economy. In addition, carriers may find that investing in new technology may be justified by the fuel economy on the new trucks.
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By “Move Ahead” Staff