Tips for Heavy Truck Fuel Economy

Tips for Heavy Truck Fuel Economy

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “fuel economy?” Words like profitability, safety and improved driver experience should be at the top of the list. Transportation companies and commercial carriers have seen a large push toward fuel efficiency as governmental regulations have been implemented. And many companies, in an effort to cut fuel costs, have set their sights on the practice as a way to improve profit margins. Regulation may not be the ideal starting point, but when it leads to innovation and savings, it’s definitely bearable.

Why focus on fuel economy?

There are multiple benefits to operating a fuel-efficient fleet; at the top of the list is profitability. Fuel is one of the highest operating costs for any carrier, meaning even smaller organizations benefit from this focus. Regained time is another benefit. Implementing and following fuel-efficient best practices can lead to fewer stops, allowing drivers to reach their destinations in a timely manner.

In today’s environmentally conscious society, the public tends to view companies committed to the wise use of resources, such as fuel, in a positive light. Consumers are more aware of supply chain and delivery processes; creating positive consumer perception with actions that are good for a fleet’s bottom line is definitely a smart call.

A prominent benefit of fuel economy is safer drivers. Many of the best practices for fuel-efficient driving stem from the way drivers handle their vehicles. A safer fleet leads to better outcomes overall.

4 Tips for Fuel Efficient Fleet

Even with fuel-efficient trucks, it takes skill and know-how to operate a fleet at maximum efficiency. Here are some tips to put fleets on the road to better fuel economy.

  • Don’t sit idly by
    Idling happens; whether it’s for comfort, safety or to maintain optimal fuel temperatures in harsh weather conditions. Long-haul trucks which idle overnight can consume more than 838 million gallons of fuel, according to a study by Argonne National Laboratory. Approximately $3 billion worth of diesel fuel and gasoline are lost each year by medium- and heavy-trucks combined! There are multiple reasons for idling, but there are also time- and money-saving solutions, which companies can enact to lessen the practice.
  • Weather watch
    Weather is something no one can control. It’s imperative for drivers to track the weather and know what conditions they will operate in. Wintry weather is notorious for its negative effects on smaller vehicles, meaning it’s much greater for heavy trucks. For instance, aerodynamic drag increases by two percent for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit dropped in a large truck. This greatly affects a driver’s ability to operate efficiently and uses more fuel. Instilling weather-smart best practices helps drivers overcome weather-related effects as much as possible.
  • Employee training improves fuel economy
    Highly-skilled drivers can produce up to a 35 percent better miles-per-gallon performance than their lesser-trained counterparts, according to ATA’s Technology and Maintenance Council. Each fleet driver should receive uniform training to keep everyone on track. In several studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), driver training programs centered on fuel efficiency, improved fleet fuel economy from five to 10 percent. The Infinit-I Workforce Training System has the most up-to-date modules on fuel efficiency and so much more. Demos of the system are available for free.

Rewards aren’t a risk
Incentives are a good tool to implement behavioral changes toward fuel efficiency among fleet drivers. Maintaining a culture of safety is the most important cultural attribute of a commercial carrier; adding a focus on fuel economy further upholds that safety standard. Incentives keep team members interested, assist in changing behaviors, and push morale higher. Performance increases 25 to 44 percent when incentives hit the right set of motivators. Consider using incentives as a way to reward driver dedication and performance when the fleet hits certain fuel economy, safety or other profitability goals.

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