How to save on fuel in 4 easy steps
Even if you’re running a fleet of one, fuel is a major business expense. Here are four simple ways you can free up cash and put the money where your business needs it the most
Keep on top of your maintenance
We’re all busy. You’ve got a driver on vacation, the phone’s ringing, you’ve run out of coffee in the lunch room and the kids need to be picked up from footy – changing that old fuel filter can wait until next month right?
A poorly maintained engine can still function, but you will pay a price. Contaminated fuel won’t burn as efficiently, meaning increased consumption. Use predictive maintenance schedules throughout the year to reliably identify a minor problem before it becomes a major expense or causes excessive fuel use.
Make sure your team give their vehicles a quick once-over at least once a week:
- Check underneath the vehicle for leaks
- Check for cracked or damaged wiring harnesses
- Check oil levels
- Check filters, separators, hoses and belts for signs of wear
- Check exhaust connections
- Check tyres are in good condition and are kept at the correct pressure. According to Bridgestone, poorly inflated and maintained tyres will have an effect on fuel consumption
Go easy on the air-con
Keeping the window open while driving will definitely increase aerodynamic drag, but is it better to roll up the windows and switch the air-con on? One study by General Motors found that regardless of speed, air-con ALWAYS used more fuel than driving with windows down.
Get smarter about route scheduling
Are your drivers taking the most efficient route? If your vehicle is doing 50,000 km per year and just 10 per cent of those kilometres are unnecessary, you could be blowing over $1,500 in fuel per vehicle each year!
Route scheduling is a powerful way to cut back on overall fuel usage. Avoid congested areas and hilly sections of road wherever possible, but most importantly, ensure your drivers are taking the most direct route. A good telematics system should offer route scheduling as a part of the package.
Improve driver performance
Perhaps the biggest win of all comes with improved driver performance – even some very simple training can earn you significant fuel savings.
The difference in fuel consumption between an efficient driver and an inefficient one can be as high as 35 percent.
Again, installing a Telematics unit can help identify and implement changes to driver behaviour. Observing real-time driver movements such as over-revving, excessive braking and idle time can help give you a better understanding of how to lift your team’s performance.
Once you’re regularly tapping into driver performance reports, use results to implement a driver incentive programme based on performance and low numbers of inefficiencies.
Encourage drivers to look ahead in the traffic and anticipate traffic light changes, thereby minimising the frequency and severity of brake and accelerator pedal activity.
Fuel usage drops when a vehicle is driven at a more constant speed so encourage drivers to use cruise control where possible and to avoid constant stop-starting and over-revving between gear changes.
Make sure your drivers are operating the trucks in the correct gear – driving in lower or higher gear than you need to uses more fuel.
Cut back on idle time – make sure drivers switch off the truck when stopping for deliveries or pick-ups. Some drivers also spend time warming up a truck engine, which generally isn’t necessary.
Most important of all, help your drivers understand WHY this is important. No-one likes to be told how to drive, but most people want to do better when given the right reason and incentive.