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Fleet fuel management: 5 ways to improve fuel efficiency

By Verizon Connect November 29, 2023

Rising fuel prices are having a significant impact on enterprises across the United States. Small changes in the cost of crude oil or new gas tax laws can increase operating costs and drive down profits. 

Though companies can’t change the price of gas, they can take steps to develop more fuel-efficient fleets that reduce gas consumption. Use this guide to learn more about your organization’s fuel consumption and take steps to lower it.  

Understanding your fleet’s current fuel consumption

Before you can improve your fleet’s fuel consumption, you need a clear picture of what your current usage looks like. After all, you can’t set actionable goals for improvement if you don’t have a concrete starting point. Once you have an understanding of your current consumption levels, you need to be able to track your fleet’s fuel usage to see if your efficiency efforts are effective. 

You can decide how detailed these tracking efforts are. At the highest level, this is as simple as tracking your fleet’s monthly fuel costs against current gas prices. However, it’s possible to gain more detailed and accurate reports on fuel usage through the use of technology. You could consider installing telematics systems on the vehicles in your fleet for everything from tracking to maintenance needs. 

Not only can clear, data-driven insights tell you whether you’re reaching your goals, but they can also help you understand which tactics have the biggest impact on consumption savings. You can make better decisions with concrete information, rather than using assumptions to hopefully move the company forward. 

Strategies to enhance fuel efficiency

You will have to take several steps and evaluate multiple factors to enhance fuel efficiency. Here are five strategies to implement and monitor if you want to manage a fuel-efficient fleet:

Adopting fleet management software

Fleet management software is essential for any enterprise handling deliveries or transportation functions. Not only can you see the exact location of all your vehicles, but you can also track driver behavior. This can alert you to bad habits like speeding, idling and harsh driving — all of which drive up your fuel costs. Simply put, fleet tracking software can help you find larger patterns that result in the overuse of fuel.

Fleet management tools can also help you plan routes to reduce waste and track maintenance alerts. Even small issues like tires that need more air can impact fuel consumption. The right fleet management system will help you address these problems immediately.

Regular vehicle maintenance

When a vehicle is well-maintained, every system in the vehicle can operate smoothly. However, when there are issues with one system, other parts of the vehicle have to work harder to compensate for the weakness. If your fleet regularly falls behind on its maintenance checklists, you could start to notice an increase in your fuel consumption. 

The Department of Energy has guides for keeping your vehicles in shape and the impact small improvements have on fuel consumption. Here are a few tasks your team needs to keep up with to help keep your fleet efficient and safe for drivers:

  • Keep up with oil changes. You don’t have to change the oil every 3,000 miles but you do need to follow the recommended guidelines for oil changes for each vehicle in your fleet. 
  • Check your tire pressure. The DOE reports that you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3% by keeping your tires at the right pressure.
  • Address engine issues immediately. Small problems can become major emergencies if they are left unchecked.  
  • Ask your staff to submit driving reports. These can alert your maintenance teams to potential issues — like a truck that needs an alignment or has handling problems. Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs) involve checklists to document the functionality of your vehicles and promote the safety of your drivers.  

Consistent maintenance can also provide other long-term savings opportunities beyond fuel efficiency. It allows you to catch small problems with small repair costs before they become big issues. Good maintenance can also help prevent crashes, potentially lowering costs related to workers’ compensation, insurance and repair bills.

Driver training and behavior monitoring

While your maintenance staff can control the state of the vehicles, it’s up to your drivers to handle them in a fuel-efficient manner. When your drivers speed, accelerate quickly or slam on the brakes, they waste fuel and potentially create unsafe driving conditions for others around them. They may also put your organization’s compliance with transportation safety regulations at risk — a whole other set of risks and potential costs you need to avoid.

Good driving habits start within your organization. You can implement training programs that guide your staff on industry best practices like smooth acceleration and braking. This can be done in an office setting and the field. 

This is another instance where fleet tracking software can help you. If necessary, you can work with specific drivers who speed and provide detailed feedback based on what your data shows. For many employees, simply knowing that company vehicles have GPS-tracking devices may be enough to encourage them to drive carefully and follow the training guidelines you provide.

Route planning for efficiency

Route planning is the process of finding the least costly path between two points. It takes fuel consumption into consideration and looks for routes that use minimal amounts of energy. Commercial truck GPS navigation software, available for both iOS and Android platforms, allows business owners and drivers to plan routes to improve efficiency.

Keep in mind that an “efficient route” doesn’t always equate to the shortest route. It could mean taking a less congested route that reduces idling time or a route that has fewer stoplights. Advanced tools can even factor in trends related to specific times of day and can recommend routes based on commuter traffic patterns and school zones.   

While you might not save a significant amount of fuel by improving a single route, the savings can build up quickly when these techniques are applied to multiple vehicles over time.   

Implementing fuel cards and fuel management systems

A fuel card is a credit card that is specifically meant to be used to fill up gas for a specific vehicle. The card often stays with the vehicle and can only be used to buy gas and sometimes other relevant maintenance items. Fuel cards make tracking gas costs easier because they don’t need to be separated from other company expenses. If each vehicle has a fuel card, management can tell exactly how much drivers are spending on specific vehicles. 

Fuel card management often works alongside your fleet management efforts. You can see which cars are running inefficiently and might need maintenance versus which cars have aggressive drivers who are wasting fuel. You can also use your fleet management tools to help prevent unauthorized fuel purchases because you can track how far a vehicle goes before it gets filled up. 

Small changes in gas prices can significantly increase your fuel costs. However, several small changes in fleet management can help decrease these costs — or at least make them more stable. Evaluate your current management process and see how telematics systems can help with fleet efficiency and keeping your drivers safe.

Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: Cost control, Data & Analytics, Fuel cost management, Performance & Coaching, Vehicle Maintenance

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