1. Keep It Clean
Don’t let cars go without regular washing because dirt, grime, oil, and especially salt can damage the finish, but believe it or not, they add weight and decrease aerodynamics, which reduces fuel efficiency.
This is particularly true in the rainy season. Accumulated mud and dust on vehicles— especially large vehicles can add up to 20kg or more to the weight, not to mention limit visibility, creating a safety hazard. Keep scrapers and brushes handy, or provide them for all heavy-duty trucks, and hauliers.
Unwashed vehicles are less efficient, not just because they’re heavier, but also because the buildup can create friction and drag
Properly inflating your tires is a critical component, not only in maximising fuel efficiency but tire life and safety as well. Under-inflated tires increase rolling resistance, and resistance forces the engine to use more fuel. Keeping tires properly inflated can increase mileage between 0.6% and 3%. Equip drivers with an air pressure gauge, and make it a policy to check tire pressure every time a vehicle is used. Though under-inflation robs gas mileage, over-inflation is not a solution, as it will increase tire wear as well as the possibility of tire failure.
3. Preventive Maintenance
Put a serious preventive maintenance schedule in place, including regular oil changes, fluid checks, wheel alignments, cooling system flush/fill, and transmission fluid changes. Track driver compliance via reporting, and take swift action when drivers are negligent.
A vehicle’s performance can be negatively impacted when not kept in top shape. Something as simple as wheel misalignment can reduce the efficiency of a vehicle, meaning it will require more fuel in order to run well. The older and dirtier oil gets, the harder an engine must work to circulate it. Use the proper grade of oil; if the manufacturer calls for 5W-30 weight oil, using 10W-30 oil can lower fuel efficiency by as much as 15 to 1.5%. This is especially true in winter, as an engine sitting overnight in freezing temperatures must work doubly hard at circulating the heavier weight oil before it gets warm.
Make certain that filters are replaced according to the manufacturer’s requirements. Air and fuel flow can be negatively impacted when filters become clogged and don’t ignore the cooling system; anything that makes the engine work harder wastes gas and increases the diesel expense.
we recommend scheduling proactive maintenance to ensure that your fleet is always in its best shape.
4. Put your fleet on a Diet
Overall, weight is the enemy of fuel efficiency, so it’s a good idea to put the entire fleet on a diet. Excessive weight is a drag on fuel consumption; each 45kg of additional weight can cut fuel efficiency by up to 2%. Conduct an audit of what drivers must carry in the normal course of the job, i.e., product, parts, POS material, etc. Is all of it absolutely necessary, or is some of it merely convenient, or carried simply because “we’ve always done it this way”? It should be policy that personal effects should not be loaded into or onto a vehicle. Be sure to engage field management, as well as drivers, in the effort. Get everyone in the habit of keeping any unnecessary weight out of company vehicles.
5. Driver Behavior
There is nothing a fleet manager can do that is more effective in managing fuel expense than managing their driver’s behaviour. driver behaviour can account for as much as 37%of fuel consumption. If you work in fleet dispatch, you already know that distracted driving, reckless driving, idling, and personal stops all have major, negative effects on fleet productivity and overall safety. But things like starting and stopping, speeding, and unplanned detours are all major culprits when it comes to fuel efficiency, too.
There are a number of driver practices that should be highlighted here:
Starts and stops. Drivers will often pound the gas pedal when a light turns green, when passing slow-moving vehicles, or just when starting out on a trip. They’ll do the same to the brake pedal when stopping. Both waste gas, expose the engine and drivetrain to excessive wear and tear, and can often result in a few traffic violations as well. Teach drivers to accelerate smoothly, and keep their distance so emergency stops are minimized.
The best way to track employee driving is to use fleet management software, like Digit FMS. With super-accurate GPS technology, it will give you reliable, real-time data about each of your vehicles. It will also help you hold your drivers accountable by giving you objective facts on to base staffing and training recommendations on.
Another great feature is to install fleet vehicle camera systems, they instantly make the driver think there is someone always watching and automatically creates better driver behaviour
6. Cruise Control
Use cruise control. Cruise control isn’t just a convenience; setting the cruise control will help drivers maintain a steady, consistent speed. These and other driving behaviours can crush fuel efficiency, not to mention pose safety risks and increase wear and tear. Aggressive driving, quick starts and stops, and a cowboy like attitude toward idling are driver behaviours that can, and should, be changed.
7. Limit engine idling
Excessive idling is a tried and true fuel waster. After all, when a car is idling, fuel efficiency is 0. If a driver is going to be in one place for more than a minute, two at the most, he or she should turn off the vehicle. Excessive idling is particularly acute in truck fleets, where deliveries, loading, and unloading are common. In South Africa we have a longer summer period than other countries and leaving the vehicle to idle while the airconditioning is running is one of the biggest culprits.
There are two main types of idling: non-discretionary and discretionary. Discretionary idling occurs when drivers are resting. It’s often used to help keep sleeper compartments at the right temperature. Non-discretionary idling happens when a vehicle is caught in bad traffic.
Most fleets will experience a mix of both types of idling which, when it comes to fuel waste, is a significant consideration. Good fleet management software like Digit FMS will help you track statistics like hours spent idling and miles driven, to help you increase productivity and improve fuel management.
8. Reduce drag
Hauliers and dump trucks are massive, so they consume a ton of fuel. And whether or not a mammoth vehicle like this is aerodynamic has a huge impact on its overall fuel consumption. In fact, drag alone can waste as much as half of a truck’s total fuel. For large truck fleets, that’s a huge budget consideration.
To make your heavy-duty trucks as fuel-efficient as possible, regularly assess all aerodynamic devices. Make sure you minimize any gaps between the tractor and the trailer and monitor tire pressure consistently.
Want to go above and beyond? Consider side skirts: panels that cover the length of the truck and serve to enclose any open spaces between tires. Side skirts are said to improve fuel efficiency by up to 5%!
9. Respect the speed limit
Speeding. Drivers know full well they’re supposed to stay within the posted speed limit; however, they often do not. The faster a driver drives, the more fuel the vehicle burns; although vehicles differ, fuel efficiency will begin to decline at around 60 mph or so. It should be policy (though it is common sense) that drivers obey speed limits. Speeding can also result in sudden stops, exacerbating the waste and further increasing fuel costs.
10. Use fleet management software
More and more fleets are employing fleet management software to help automate data entry and capture accurate, real-time data without fuss. in the case of Digit FMS you can actually monitor the fuel levels live on your long haul trucks and yellow heavy machinary.
Fleet management software can save you operating costs by reporting on driver behavior, tracking idling hours, helping you plan efficient driver schedules, and monitoring unplanned routes or personal stops.