Over-the-road fleets come in all shapes and sizes. You may be operating just a few vehicles, dozens or more than a hundred. They may be automobiles, medium-duty trucks or Class 8 long-haul rigs. They all have one thing in common: your fleet’s gas purchases represent one of your most significant ongoing expenses – on average about 30%. Even the smallest improvement can add up smartly by the end of the year.
Here are 7 fuel saving tips that can drive down your fleet’s fuel purchases:
1. Team up with drivers.
Streamlined, more efficient driving is one of the best ways to minimize fuel consumption. Make it everyone’s responsibility to save on gas, not just the fleet manager’s “problem.” Driver awareness programs and training refreshers can do wonders to save on fuel, and smarter driving techniques also increase your fleet’s productivity. That’s a double win. Even better, fuel-sensitive driving reduces noxious emissions, so you’re doing your part for the environment. Now it’s a triple win.
If drivers need more incentive, remind them that saving money on your fleet’s gas purchases helps keep your firm solvent and growing. There’s job security in that. If it’s feasible for your operation, you can even make it fun by creating a contest to see who can reduce overall miles driven or fill-ups per miles driven over a certain period.
2. Plan ahead.
Efficient route planning that eliminates back-tracking and helps avoid traffic congestion can substantially reduce miles driven, in turn reducing fuel usage. It’s less frustrating for drivers, and you can accomplish more per route. You’re not only saving money, you’re earning money.
3. Watch your speed.
Time is money for every fleet, but speeding can earn you costly tickets and cause accidents. These can damage your reputation as well as your bottom line, and speeding also causes premature wear and tear on your engine. Around town, resist the urge to use power take-offs and hard braking to “get there faster.” You don’t actually gain time, but you do waste gas.
If you have cruise control, use it, especially on longer trips.
4. Look ahead.
The more aware you are of what’s happening up ahead, the sooner you’ll be able to slow down or stop or otherwise avoid hazards. You’ll be safer and more efficient.
5. Be vigilant about details.
- Once your air filter gets clogged, your engine can’t breathe. If it has to work harder, it will use more fuel.
- Check your tires for uneven wear and correct inflation pressure frequently. Even 1 psi under-inflation can cost you money at the pump, and improperly inflated tires make driving more difficult and increase your risk of accidents.
- Parking overnight? Position your truck for a straight-forward exit in the morning, because maneuvering around when your engine is cold wastes fuel.
6. Watch your weight.
Cars and medium-duty service vehicles often wind up hauling around more tools and equipment than necessary. That added weight reduces mpg’s, so if you don’t need those things, leave them behind. On the other hand, for delivery-oriented fleets the key to improved mileage is efficient loading – using your space to capacity whenever possible and making sure LTL loads are evenly distributed.
7. Invest in modern technology.
Most of today’s newer trucks, and even some autos, come with integrated real-time telematics from GPS to preventive maintenance monitoring and more. When you integrate that with fleet management software, you have a comprehensive, automated system that enables you to gather valuable data about your fleet’s activities and performance so you can see where opportunities lie to improve mileage, routing, etc.
With all that in place – and drivers who consciously drive to save fuel – you’ll be able to get the most out of your entire operation, not just your fleet’s gas purchases.