What goes up must come down. And for the inverse, the price of diesel, which is continuing to drop, will at some point start to go up again. What will you do then?
Between a future increase in fuel prices and ongoing regulations that will mandate a drop in fuel consumption (unfortunately accompanied by an increase in the price per power unit), it’s never too early to start taking steps to increase fuel efficiency.
You don’t necessarily have to have the latest technology (although at some point, you may have to move in that direction). Nor do you have to make huge investments in new equipment. In fact, there are some very simple, non-technical things that fleets and their drivers can do to produce fuel savings.
- Reduce road speed – Every mph reduction you make in the average road speed could produce 1% to 2% in fuel savings. Or, every tenth of a mile per hour over 55 you drive actually could reduce fuel efficiency by an equivalent one-tenth miles per gallon.
- Avoid idling – At idle, an engine can burn from one-half to over one full gallon of fuel every hour.
- Use cruise control – Setting the cruise speed slightly higher than the pedal speed can encourage drivers to use cruise control. By reducing small variations in pedal foot pressure, you can improve fuel economy by as much as 3% to 5%.
- Reduce the number of stops – Fleet users should be aware of the effects of routing and scheduling and by-pass high traffic or rush hour traffic when possible. Accelerating a 70,000-pound load from a complete stop could actually burn over ¼ of a gallon of fuel. Stop-and-go traffic can be a fuel efficiency killer.
- Tire Air Pressure – Some recent statistics showed some 40% of tires operating on our roads were under-inflated. Not only does that decrease tire wear and increase tire failures and maintenance costs; it also has a negative effect on fuel consumption. Low tire pressure can reduce fuel efficiency considerably. Running under-inflated tires just 10psi can cost a one percent reduction in fuel efficiency.
- ECM Settings – There are many ECM parameter settings that go unused due to a lack of knowledge and understanding. Yet there can be huge fuel savings associated with progressive shifting, types of cruise control settings, idle reduction, torque limiters, etc. There are too many engine platforms and too many settings to mention, but take a look at your fleet ECM parameter options and take advantage of this low lying fruit.
Now take the estimates above and extrapolate those figures for your entire fleet and you should be able to get a good look at the substantial savings that can go straight to your bottom line. But these steps don’t just result in fuel savings. They’re also great for maintenance, because in general, less fuel burned means less engine and tire wear, less DPF cleaning, and less stress on gears and axles. Any way you look at, smart operation of your vehicles is going to be good for your balance sheet.