Effective ways to help reduce fuel consumption

Member viewpoint by Australian Manufacturing Forum member Greg Newham

As efficient transport is a key factor in the cost of manufacturing, rising and unpredictable fuel prices represent an ongoing challenge to Australia’s manufacturing sector to remain competitive.

The ability of Australia’s transport industry to service the needs of the market continues to be impacted by both economical and industrial factors. Even the slightest increase in the fuel prices can drastically influence the operational costs and highly impact profitability of the transport and logistics companies.

While fleet managers have the unenviable task of addressing and managing environmental concerns, it is also an opportunity to become a pivotal leader of the movement by changing behaviour and educating fleet drivers to lessen their environmental impact through reducing fuel uses and misuses.

Here are some tips for businesses on how to effectively manage fuel consumption and save on fuel costs.

Implement latest technologies

When it comes to fleet operating cost, fuel continues to be at the top of the list.

Integrating the latest fleet management software and tools, will help enable businesses to monitor fuel consumption automatically. Managers can use the data collected to identify the warning signs and further coach drivers on how to better manage the usage of fuel. This would also help in analysing trips made, against an elaborate database of private and public roads in Australia.

Fleet management systems can help fleet managers monitor a driver’s speed, and with near real time tracking, managers can identify drivers with safe and fuel efficient driving behaviour, and provide incentives for drivers who improve or lead by example.

Fleet owners can also increase the dollar amount credited back to their business through the comprehensive approach of vehicle tracking, engine use and private road mapping.

Reducing Fuel wastage through conscious usage

Fuel cards can be convenient and can help enable management to track the fleet’s fuel expenditure, but it can be difficult to determine whether employees are filling up only the company car and not the personal vehicles.

With a fleet management solution and fuel card integration in place, it can help address fuel card abuse. This can help identify whether the pumped fuel exceeded the assigned vehicle’s tank and if the vehicle was present at the particular location during the recorded time.

Tracking refuels also helps build a clear understanding of how fuel is being consumed across the fleet, which can lead to reduced fuel wastage, better fuel management and substantial savings.

Execute an idling policy

Another factor that results in fuel wastage is vehicle idling.

According to the Green Vehicle Guide by Australian government, most vehicles have much higher fuel consumption on the ‘urban’ part of the test cycle. This features a low average speed (19 km/h), substantial idle periods (30 percent) and frequent stop/start events.

Vehicle engines are left idle typically when drivers queue in traffic and unloading and offloading of goods. The engine idle management study reveals that one hour of idling can consume two litres of fuel in a light-duty vehicle whereas about four litres of fuel in a heavy duty vehicle.

Longer hauls also put additional hours on engines, leading to higher maintenance costs. Because of this, fle

It is important to execute an idling policy and set idle limit times. Companies should also adjust their idling policies to account for heat or air conditioning while the drivers are at rest.

Changing driving behaviour

The way a person drives the vehicle deeply affects how much fuel a vehicle uses and implementing even the slightest of changes can result in big savings. Training and educating them on eco driving practices can have a huge impact on fuel consumption.

While there is a body of research which indicates that learners and those in the early stages of their driving experience can save on average 1 litre per 100 km, others who have had significantly more driving time can substantially reduce fuel consumption by up to 30 percent simply by changing their driver behaviour.

The fuel wastage and additional wear and tear to company vehicles can add up over time and end up depleting their sustainability.

By training drivers on the impacts of speeding and vehicle idling both from a safety and cost perspective, can help them analyse and self-correct their driving behaviour. Moreover, by putting in place reward and recognition programs for drivers who consistently display fuel-efficient behaviour can encourage continued improvement.

Greg Newham is APAC Sales Director for Verizon Connect

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