Fuel is one of the biggest expenses and logistical problems that fleets face. With fleets that traverse thousands of miles a day, one can see how the fuel bill would pile up immensely.
Fuel strategy must go beyond just optimizing route as the problem is very complex.
Fuel Price Fluctuation
Making a strategy for optimal fuel management faces a surplus of problems that appear almost impossible to solve. First, diesel (which is the fuel trucks use because of its better torque performance) prices fluctuate. Average diesel prices change all the time—and unfortunately, seem to be increasing historically. When the COVID-19 pandemic first started, diesel prices plummeted, which benefited fleet operations. However today, prices in San Diego, California straddle $4.00/gal! And even zooming in, every place has their ideal, most affordable spot. Prices at one gas station can be cheaper than a gas station across the street. In fact, right now you can probably name the gas station in your city that has the best rates. But fleets do not have the luxury of being “in the know” when they travel across the country to many, many different cities. So, finding the right spot to fill up at presents a big problem to fleet fuel strategy.
Next, optimal fuel management requires optimal driving practices. There is a reason car specs list their highway MPG and their city MPG. And there is a reason why the city one is always lower than the highway. Different driving practices use more (or less) fuel. For instance, continuous braking is a very inefficient way to drive (and likewise has adverse effects on the braking system as well). That is why city fuel mileage is always lower since the braking occurs more often. Another factor that multiplies this is aggressive driving. Aggressive driving includes speeding, rapid acceleration, and harsh braking. Aggressive Driving can lower the fuel economy of a vehicle anywhere from 10-40% in cities. Also, speeding on its own lowers fuel efficiency significantly. It is calculated that every 5 MPH over 50 MPH a driver goes, it is the same as adding $0.19 per gallon. Under that rule, if a driver speeds at 80 MPH, they are paying an extra $1.14 per gallon. On a truck tank that can have between 150-300 gallons, that’s an extra $171-342 dollars per fill up. Lastly, idling also drains fuel. It is estimated that idling consumes a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour, which adds up very fast and wastes countless amounts of money.
So, with this extensive list of problems, how do fleet managers go about crafting the best fleet fuel strategy?
Telematics gives fleet managers the tools to optimize nearly everything about their fleet. And that certainly includes fuel economy. While fleet managers have no control over the fluctuations of diesel prices, they can optimize driver behavior. However, this is no small feat. With drivers interspersed throughout the country for a lot of fleets, identifying the driver’s behavior and practices seems impossible. However, telematics offers fleet managers eyes on the drivers and their habits. With full telematics solutions like EZ Fleet Tracking’s EZ750 and its coupled VS800 Video Solution, fleet managers can monitor a myriad of events, and do so from wherever they are thanks to the products’ cloud processing.
The EZ750 and VS800 Video Solution monitors virtually all the driving behavior problems listed in the problems section.
The solution uses an accelerometer to monitor all aggressive driving behaviors. This includes speeding, rapid acceleration, and harsh braking. The video solution likewise can detect reckless driving using edge AI. When one of these things are detected, an alert is created, and video footage of these events are uploaded to the cloud. This allows managers to fully diagnose potential problems and address them swiftly without needing to be with the driver. Problems could include drivers driving too close to other cars and constantly braking because of it, among other things.
As mentioned earlier, speed is detected using the accelerometer from the EZ750. Identifying the occurrences of speeding throughout the fleet not only helps with saving on fuel, but it also helps with fleet safety, which is even more important than fuel efficiency.
The EZ750 detects when the car is idling and creates an alert for it. This alert also includes the location of where it occurred, helping fleet managers not only identify idling situations, but also gain the capability to find out potential causes for idling. This could include drivers idling while waiting to drop off or pick up their cargo, or drivers idling near restaurants when they grab food. Overall, being able to find out when, where, and how long the idling occurs significantly helps with diagnosis of the behavior and likewise solving it.
Fuel costs effect everyone, especially fleets. Even making the slightest of adjustments can save fleet operations huge amounts of money and often also lead to safer fleets as well. With the power of telematics, solutions such as EZ Fleet Tracking’s EZ750 and VS800 Video Solution can offer critical insights to help monitor and manage best driving practices to save on fuel.