Trimming Fuel Costs With Fleet Management Solutions
By Pankaj Sharma, Construction Executive
In the construction industry, jobsites are literally all over the map, and employees are always on the go. That means a vehicle fleet is a critical business tool and needs to be treated as such.
One of the biggest line items in a fleet’s budget is fuel. Many companies write fuel costs off as the cost of doing business. However, even though the per-gallon price of fuel is nearly half of what it was a few years ago, a slight rise in price can have a big impact on the bottom line. Looking at ways to cut fuel costs should be a business priority.
There are five simple changes that construction and contracting companies can make to help control fuel costs:
1. UNDERGO REGULAR MAINTENANCE
Just as people feel better when they exercise, eat right and take vitamins, vehicles need the same level of TLC. Ongoing maintenance should include changing oil, filters and wiper blades; checking battery life and tire pressure; and rotating tires. A vehicle that’s not working efficiently burns extra fuel. According to a report from Fueleconomy.gov, regular maintenance can improve fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent.
2. PLAN ROUTES MORE EFFICIENTLY
Many local drivers generally know the “best” way to get from here to there. They may even know short cuts that have saved time in the past. But are they really plotting the most efficient path from jobsite to jobsite, especially when appointments change during the day? Even a well-thought-out route can quickly become disrupted by traffic, construction, accidents and other snarls that waste time and fuel. Planning routes more efficiently has another hidden bonus: Businesses might find enough time in their day to squeeze in one more job, consult or estimate. Those extra opportunities could mean a significant boost to business.
3. HOLD DRIVERS TO SAFETY STANDARDS
The ability to track and correct driver behavior can not only trim fuel costs, but can also help cut maintenance costs and insurance fees. Aggressive driving wastes fuel and creates unnecessary wear and tear on vehicles. Not every driver is aggressive, but many are probably guilty of one or more of these aggressive driving behaviors:
- Speeding. Drivers that consistently exceed posted speed limits are burning excessive fuel, and risk being ticketed if caught.
- Rapid acceleration. It’s tempting to race off the line to speed ahead of the slower vehicles, but rapid acceleration burns fuel and causes wear and tear on a vehicle.
- Aggressive braking. Hard braking shows up not only in fuel costs, but also on the maintenance ledger when brakes need to be replaced more frequently.
- Hard cornering. Hard cornering can consume fuel excessively and create additional wear on tires that can affect fuel consumption.
Reining in on these behaviors can significantly help trim fuel costs.
4. THROTTLE BACK ON IDLING
Drivers like to be comfortable, and that often means the engine is running while the vehicle is stopped to keep the interior cool during the summer or warm during the winter. But idling burns excessive fuel and also adds to the wear and tear on the vehicle’s engine.
5. TRACK FUEL SPEND ACROSS THE COMPANY
If all company drivers are using different cards for their fuel purchases, there’s no great way to centralize and track fuel spend. Fuel card integration incorporates gas card data, fuel card transactions and maintenance purchase information, making it easier to track spend and trends in fuel use and correct those that need adjustment to maximize savings.
HOW FLEET TRACKING CAN HELP REDUCE FUEL COSTS
Managing driver behavior, optimizing routes and tracking maintenance logs and fuel spend can be very labor-intensive work. GPS fleet tracking solutions simplify these tasks, using a comprehensive dashboard that provides insight that can help construction companies reduce their fuel consumption and thus their costs.
A GPS fleet tracking solution can alert managers to poor driver behavior such as speeding and idling, ultimately helping companies improve driver behavior and reduce fuel spend. Fleet tracking can also help companies optimize their routes by taking the driver’s scheduled stops and creating the shortest and most efficient route. If circumstances change because of traffic or construction, drivers can be re-routed quickly via robust dispatching functionality. By optimizing routes, drivers are on the road for a shorter period of time, but getting more done. That means less fuel consumed and more money saved.
Finally, fleet tracking solutions can help companies extend the life of their vehicles and ensure they are operating at high fuel efficiency. Maintenance schedules take the guesswork out of maintenance and ensure preventative upkeep is top of mind and within regulatory guidelines.
Vehicles are a key business tool for all construction and contracting companies. By utilizing fleet tracking solutions, companies can keep their fuel costs in check and their fleet operating like a well-oiled machine.