Saving on fuels

From the August 2021 print edition

By managing your fuels, you can save a bundle and you will help to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In this article, I will focus on traditional fuels and in a future article, I will cover all alternative fuels. And all of these suggestions are possible without major investments.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Act on your fuels
Even if we are in a major shift in the world of fuels for fleets, everything is not quite ready right now and it will not be for years to come. Considering this, you can act right now to make sure that your fuel consumption is under control, or at least, you should get control over it and have a view on one of the major components of your expenses.

A high-level look is the first step that you should take to measure the annual quantity of fuels your organization uses. You should focus on quantity, not on the cost. As you know, prices at the pump vary. The best method is to compare your consumption year to year.

Normally, you can do it today by checking the number of litres on your credit card transactions, on your tickets of delivery or any other kind of support you use to capture your costs. Depending on the detail of your information, it might be possible to produce a report by vehicle. With that, you can produce a vehicle-by-vehicle performance picture over the years. If you operate on multiple sites, you can compare the performance of each site and inform your operations department of the results and make an analysis. You might find some differences that you will be able to explain and inform your drivers of so they can adjust their driving.

All this can be done without any special technology, such as telemetry. It just needs some effort on your part. To make it jazzier, you can present it using graphics and have some visibility in your organization.

Speed
Reducing driver speed is one way to save and reduce your fuel consumption without investing a lot of money. A reduction of just over 15 per cent is possible if you apply simple rules. With a speed of 100km/h instead of 120km/h, you will reduce consumption by 20 per cent. For typical fleets, you’ll save over 40,000 litres, or $52,000.

One simple way to apply that rule is to modify your fleet policies by telling you drivers to respect the speed limit. Generally, most of your employees will respect the rules so you can realize savings.
This will also help you reduce GHG. One litre of fuel is a savings of about 2.2kg of equivalent tonnes of CO2. With the previous example, it is a reduction of 88,000kg.

Payload
Another way to act on your fleet consumption without special technology is the payload of your vehicles. This action is especially useful for vehicles, like public service vehicles, that transport equipment or merchandise.

Natural Resources Canada estimates that a reduction of 100kg will help you save approximately $1,300 by truck. For that study, done by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the price was set at $1.30/litre. If you convert that to litres, you have a reduction of 1,000 litres. If you multiply that by 10 vehicles, you have a savings of 10,000 litres.

Gradually accelerate and decelerate
If you ask your drivers to act on fast acceleration and hard braking, you might save up to 33 per cent on the highway and 50 per cent in the city. Even more, you will be able to save on maintenance.
To do this, you might need to invest in driver education, and you might also save on collision repairs, reduce employee injuries and you will contribute to safer roads for all.

You can also ask your drivers to use their cruise control when the weather allows. There’s a savings there without major cost, simply by including it in your fleet policies.

Surveys
If you need to learn more about your drivers’ behavior, you can do a short survey that will explore how they act on the road. Here are some examples of questions:

  • Are you driving above the speed limit in residential areas?
  • Are you driving above the speed limit on the highway?
  • Are you ensuring the accurate payload capacity of the truck?
  • Do you check the tire pressure of your truck before leaving?

To do your survey, you can use some apps that will give you fast answers. With that information, you will be able to adjust your strategy on education so it will reflect your employees’ statements.

Finally, as you read the results of your survey, it’s possible to produce a scoreboard for your vehicles at

Roger Constantin is a fleet management expert. Reach him at [email protected]

no major cost. Just communicating it will help in your quest to control your costs and, most important, to help create safer roads for all.