How to Ensure Your Fleet is Efficient as Gas Prices Soar

The combination of supply chain issues, a return to consistent demand, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have created the perfect storm for businesses with fleets of road-going vehicles. While cutting back on fuel consumption seems like the most obvious way to save money as gas prices soar, this is much easier said than done for liquid waste management and septic service professionals. The industry relies upon trucks and service vehicles to meet customers where they are – often in remote, dispersed locations.

Fuel cost has long been one of the top two spends for fleet managers, and the recent surge in pump prices is forcing many businesses to pass along these expenses to their customers through raised service prices. As septic systems and wastewater treatment plants are typically located away from densely populated areas, liquid waste management professionals often drive miles out of town to service customers. Fuel cost inflation is also particularly painful for liquid waste management companies because as operational and material costs go up, their customers are pinching pennies and forgoing services whenever and wherever possible.

So how can fleet managers ensure they aren’t under water after a few visits to the pump?

Fleet management solutions

Inefficiencies add unnecessary costs to any fleet, mainly when every mile on the road costs nearly double what it did a year ago. Fleet managers can take small yet proactive steps, to cut back on fuel spending, such as avoiding route overlaps and monitoring driver behavior.

Fleet managers gain visibility across their dispersed, mobile workforce with GPS tracking and telematics systems. This strategy identifies ways a fleet might be burning fuel inefficiently and can help implement processes to ensure those vehicles are used in the most economical ways possible.

Here are a few helpful insights to help protect your bottom line:

Leverage preventive maintenance

The wear and tear on fleet vehicles is of great concern to any fleet stakeholder, and to operate at total efficiency, vehicles must remain out on the road. Fleet managers should track several indicators as they pertain to maintenance on vehicles, including:

● The vehicle’s last oil change, based on miles driven, not date
● Smog checks
● Brake inspections
● Transmission flushes

Tires can also be a drag on a fleet vehicles’ fuel efficiency; therefore, a regular maintenance schedule should include:

● Checking tire pressure
● Monitoring tire tread depth
● Performing regular rotation and balance
● Checking the vehicle’s alignment every 80,000 to 100,000 miles

GPS tracking will help you monitor maintenance needs through customizable reports, alerting managers when maintenance should be scheduled and when problematic vehicles are in rotation.

Encourage good driving habits

Driver behavior has a direct correlation with how a fleet burns fuel. A report from the U.S. Department of Transportation showed up to a 35% difference in fuel consumption between a good and bad driver. For every five mph over 30 mph that a truck travels, managers are paying almost a quarter more per gallon, and each gallon purchased is too valuable not to address driving habits. GPS tracking and telematics systems encourage workers to drive according to posted speed limits and otherwise remain on their best behavior.

Incorporating smart dash cameras across your fleet can help reduce speeding violations, avoid hard braking, increase safety, and limit accidents. This technology automatically detects and alerts drivers when they are speeding, engaging hard acceleration of braking, and other inefficient driving techniques.

Optimize scheduling to avoid route overlaps

Keeping drivers on track through route planning is another way to save money on fuel effectively. By creating a routing plan with GPS tracking, managers can determine the stops a vehicle will make ahead of time, avoiding sending too many vehicles to one area. Route overlaps also extend the amount of time it takes to complete jobs, negatively impacting the customer experience.

Schedule optimization through GPS tracking also prevents drivers from taking the long way, ensuring septic service professionals reach customers within a reasonable amount of time. This can also include creating a schedule to put drivers on the roads when traffic is typically lighter. Rush hour traffic leaves drivers spending a lot of time in stop-and-go traffic, which can burn an unnecessary amount of fuel.

Reduce idling when in park

One of the best ways to get ahead of unnecessary fuel expenses is by first understanding how much fuel a fleet is burning. Unfortunately, many vehicles in a fleet spend a great deal of time idling, and an idling truck can waste almost a gallon of fuel each hour. GPS tracking and telematics have successfully identified how much fuel is wasted due to extended idle time.

For example, one use case revealed some fleet vehicles were left running during every business day without ever being shut off. In one month alone, idle time across the fleet added up to nearly 400 hours and approximately 200 gallons of fuel. GPS tracking will notify the driver in real-time to shut off the vehicle and help manage extended unnecessary idling. Within three short months, idle time decreased by 30%.

Gain insight to save on fuel

With no end to outrageous fuel prices in sight, life must carry on. Liquid waste management and septic service professionals are essential workers by definition, but just because customers will always need services does not mean the business will automatically remain in the green. As we deal with the fluctuation from expensive to more expensive, fleet managers must do everything to cut costs wherever possible.

By Brian Canlas, Product Manager at GPS Insight


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