Reduce Fleet Fuel Costs with a Fleet Tracking Solution

Given the volatile nature of fuel costs, fuel management is always a top concern for most fleets, especially now since experts failed to predict the dramatic rise in gas prices in the US and Canada (in fact they did quite the opposite) in early 2022.

Fuel can account for about 19% of an average trucking company’s operating budget on a per mile basis, according to truckingresearch.org. Based on current fuel averages, the average price of a gallon of gas has increased by 67% since 2020. That’s why it’s more crucial than ever for your business to continuously look for new ways to reduce fuel consumption. 

Let’s look at how a fleet tracking solution can help reduce your fleet fuel costs and key features that can boost profitability.

Right-Size Your Fleet and Reduce Lifecycle Costs

While having an adequate number of vehicles and equipment is vital to maintaining efficient operations, there’s a point where going overboard can become a liability.

If you’re spending a ton of money on a large fleet of aging or outdated vehicles, you can see how it could hurt your profitability over time. The key is to right-size your fleet by carefully considering which vehicles and equipment you truly need to optimally service your customers. This is especially important now that the height of COVID has passed and the trucking industry saw a 6.8% drop in available drivers from 2019 to 2020, and further hampered in 2021 which ran an additional 80,000 driver deficit.  

Besides that, reducing the vehicle lifecycle and optimizing replacements is beneficial. To do this effectively, a fleet manager must analyze factors like:

  • The vehicle’s MPG
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • The initial cost of a new vehicle
  • Realistic resale value

From there, they can determine what the optimal life cycle for a vehicle is so they don’t hold on to it longer than they should. A fleet management solution is a great way to streamline vehicle right-sizing and lifecycle reduction, as it provides in-depth insights for better decision-making.

Monitor and Improve Driver Behavior

Another effective way to reduce fleet fuel costs is to address poor driving practices among your team members. Two issues, in particular, are especially problematic and should be prioritized.

Reduce Idling Time

Idling is one of the biggest culprits behind lower fuel efficiency. According to DHEC data, it wastes up to a half gallon of fuel an hour. And with many trucks idling for 4-8 hours per day, that can add up to as much as $12,000 per year in wasted fuel per vehicle. Excessive idling is also a key contributor to wear and tear, which reduces the lifespan of internal parts. The same study from 2012 estimates it can increase annual maintenance expenditures by as much as $2,000. 

However, implementing a fleet management solution is a simple way to reduce idle time significantly, and lower emissions in the process. The GPS tracking system from Titan GPS offers detailed reporting on vehicle idle rate, allowing fleet managers to see which drivers are idling excessively and running their vehicles efficiently. With it, you can get a ranking of the top 10 worst idlers to quickly pinpoint educational opportunities to get them to an appropriate level. At the same time, you’ll also know who to praise, and you can use the data to improve the overall performance of your fleet to reduce fleet fuel costs drastically.

Address Speeding Issues

Speeding is another major problem for many fleets. Not only does it create serious safety concerns, but it also wastes gas. According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, “for each 5 mph over 60 mph, you will use about 7% more gas.” That’s why it’s recommended to limit the maximum speed in your fleet policy to around 55 to 60 mph. 

Of course, it’s naïve to expect every single driver to abide by this rule 100% of the time. Due to tight deadlines and the pressure to reach destinations on schedule, it’s tempting for drivers to go faster than they should, though this can be combated by using a governor. A vehicle tracking solution can help here as well. With it, you can monitor a drivers’ speed and other types of aggressive driving habits, like harsh braking and tailgating. You can even use this technology to provide in-cab audible coaching to instantly remind drivers of your fleet policy.

That way, risky driving behavior can be addressed immediately and isn’t allowed to perpetuate.

Schedule Preventative Maintenance

Nearly all experts agree that preventative maintenance is always the best approach to keeping your fleet in good shape. Rather than constantly dealing with unexpected breakdowns that often involve costly repairs and downtime, preventative maintenance significantly reduces and potentially prevents vehicle breakdowns. 

In turn, this helps maximize the percentage of your vehicles that are operational at any given time. You can extend the average lifespan of your vehicles significantly and avoid the headaches and additional costs that come along with other fleet drivers needing to pick up the slack. This helps increase fleet fuel efficiency because your vehicles are in peak condition. 

Preventative maintenance is based on mileage, time, engine hours, and/or gallons of fuel used. Tracking these metrics is a key aspect of getting the most out of a fleet monitoring solution.

When predefined thresholds are met, preventative maintenance plans trigger activities such as vehicle inspection, cleaning, testing, repairs, the replacement of parts, lubrication, and other ongoing vehicle activities.

The easiest way to implement a preventative maintenance plan for your fleet is to create a formal digital checklist and schedule maintenance automatically. This also helps free up cognitive bandwidth for your fleet managers and drivers so they can focus more intently on their core tasks while ensuring all critical maintenance is done on time.

Tire Pressure Matters

Another important but sometimes overlooked part of proper vehicle maintenance is keeping tires inflated. Research has found fuel efficiency drops by 0.2% for every psi below the recommended tire pressure. However, keeping tires properly inflated improves fuel efficiency by 0.6% to 3%. While that may not sound like a lot, this can significantly impact the bottom line, especially across a large fleet with hundreds or thousands of vehicles.

Use Actionable Fleet Tracking Data Insights

Earlier, we mentioned using fleet tracking software to monitor idle time and speeding. But there’s a wealth of other information it can be used to keep tabs on as well. With Titan GPS’ best-in-class fleet management solutions, you can gather data on vehicle utilization, vehicle health, and material usage for a clear vantage point of overall performance.

It can also be used to instantly verify the location of drivers, track their routes, and measure time spent at locations. That way, you can stay up-to-date 24/7 and identify trends and patterns to make continuous refinements, so your fleet becomes more fuel-efficient. Over time, this is a huge asset for improving decision-making and can serve as a tremendous competitive advantage.

Track Fleet Fuel Usage

Titan GPS also offers a comprehensive fleet fuel efficiency report that allows you to track performance with complete accuracy. This would keep track of fuel spending, unauthorized fuel purchases, and possible fuel theft if you suspect that is going on. In turn, you can pinpoint inefficiencies and know precisely what needs to be addressed.

Optimize Dispatching

Efficient dispatch of drivers in the field can give a company a significant advantage. Say, for instance, there’s an upcoming appointment, and you need to choose between one of two drivers. Driver A is within proximity of the appointment, whereas driver B is on the other side of town. You would want to dispatch driver A because this would make your operations more efficient and give your customers a better experience. 

Beyond that, it would also reduce fuel consumption because you’re getting a driver to the target destination using less fuel. When this is done at scale, it can significantly impact fleet fuel efficiency overall. And that’s another critical reason why it makes sense to use a fleet tracking solution with this type of routing optimization. It allows dispatchers to assign the most logical fleet driver to a destination by providing relevant information like distance, traffic conditions, available time slots, and so on.

How We Help Managers Reduce Fleet Fuel Costs

With fuel consumption accounting for such a large portion of a fleet’s operating costs, it’s crucial to find ways to keep it in check. There’s arguably no better way to manage it than by leveraging a fleet tracking solution. In terms of quantifiable impact, the average fuel savings for Titan GPS customers across all industries is 8%. However, higher savings are always possible depending on how you leverage the platform and implement driver behavior coaching. Some Titan GPS customers have reported shaving off as much as 35%. 

The benefits are not just limited to the bottom line, either, because they are felt on the road as well.

Book a demo with us to discover how to improve fleet fuel efficiency, reduce operational costs, and give your business the edge.

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