5 Effective Ways to Reduce Fleet Spending
Small or large, companies of all sizes look for ways to make their vehicles more efficient and reduce fuel consumption. But it’s especially critical for larger businesses that are operating a fleet. Because of the sheer number of vehicles on the road, even seemingly small inefficiencies can add up in a hurry and take a serious toll on profitability.
That’s why it’s important to analyze every aspect of fleet operations and leave no stone unturned to reduce fleet spending. While there are numerous ways to go about this, here are five of the most effective strategies:
1. Use Engine Calibration Software
Fleet vehicles are notcustomized to your company’s unique needs. Instead, they’re mass-produced to fit the needs of a wide variety of users for a multitude of purposes, which means they lack the customization to operate at their peak. The problem with this is that it often limits their efficiency, increasing fuel costs and lowering overall productivity.
Fortunately, there’s an effective and surprisingly simple solution — engine calibration software. Engine calibration allows you to customize your fleet collectively by making key alterations to each vehicle. It works by plugging a device into the OBD-II port and adjusting the engine parameters. The entire process usually takes a max of 30 minutes. Still, it can dramatically impact vehicle productivity, significantly reducing fuels and making your fleet more efficient while improving driver safety. To quantify, research has found that, on average, fleets lower their fuel costs by 6-12% after using engine calibration software.
And when you look at it on a large scale, it can be the number one strategy to reduce fleet spending. A good example is the Port St. Lucie Police Department in Florida. They used Derive VQ-Efficiency to implement customized calibrations that adjusted their idle rate and shift points to reduce idling from 76% to 64%. The result was significant, and they could save $140,000 in annual fuel costs.
2. Install Speed Governors to Reduce Fleet Spending
Speeding not only endangers the lives of your drivers and everyone else on the road, but it can also have legal ramifications, diminish your brand equity, and of course, increase fuel consumption. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “speeding increases fuel consumption and decreases fuel economy due to tire rolling resistance and air resistance. In addition, while vehicles reach optimal fuel economy at different speeds, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds over 50 mph.” So if your drivers are consistently driving at excessive speeds, it’s practically guaranteed to increase your fuel costs.
In an ideal world, you could tell drivers not to go beyond a certain speed, and they’d always follow the rules to a T. Unfortunately, that’s not always realistic. This is where installing a speed governing device comes in. It’s a piece of technology that restricts the maximum speed drivers can hit based on what’s mandated by your fleet’s policy. That way, drivers always abide by the rules, and they’re unable to go beyond a certain predetermined speed, thereby improving safety and reducing fleet spending for the ultimate win-win.
A notable company that’s effectively used speed governors is American telecommunications giant Comcast, which has the fifth-largest commercial fleet in the country. This combined with other engine calibrations discussed earlier, helped them collectively reduce their fuel costs by a staggering $8.2 million.
3. Avoid Carrying Excess Equipment and Materials
eaving excess equipment and materials inside fleet vehicles is a significant cause of unnecessary fuel consumption for many companies. For example, an empty roof rack alone can increase fuel consumption by 30%. So it’s essential to be diligent about ditching dead weight. If, for example, a driver uses heavy tools early in the day for one job but won’t need them for the rest of the day, they should store those tools at your fleet base rather than riding around with them.
Not only does this reduce vehicle weight and increase efficiency, but it also creates more real estate so drivers can fit more important items they’re going to use. And if a fleet vehicle has a roof rack that’s seldom used, you may want to consider removing it. Instead of having roof racks on your entire fleet, you could only use them on a small handful.An empty roof rack alone can increase fuel consumption by 30% Click To Tweet
4. Keep Constant Tabs on Tire Pressure
Tire pressure is another factor that seems relatively trivial on a small scale. If, for instance, only a few vehicles have low tire pressure, the financial impact may not even be noticeable. But when you look at it on a large scale where dozens or even hundreds of vehicles across an entire fleet have low tire pressure, it can lead to a significant increase in spending.
According to recent data, vehicles with low tire pressure see an average increase of 10% in fuel consumption while at the same time reducing the thread lifecycle by 15%. This is a double whammy because it results in spending more on fuel while simultaneously reducing the lifespan of your tires, forcing you to replace them prematurely. That’s why it’s vital to keep constant tabs on tire pressure and maintain the PSI recommended by the manufacturer.
A good starting point is to equip your fleet vehicles with tire pressure gauges and make checking tire pressure routine for your drivers. That way, they can catch it early on before it becomes a problem. Or, you can take it one step further by installing a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to generate real-time data on tire pressure so fleet managers and drivers can see whether it’s high, low, or just right. By using TPMS sensors, you should improve gas mileage considerably and extend the lifespan of your fleet vehicle tires.
5. Train Drivers to Increase Fuel Efficiency
The last area to focus on when you aim to reduce fleet spending is your drivers themselves. Again, those trained in best practices, such as avoiding fast acceleration, speeding, and sharp braking, will see far better fuel efficiency than those that “just get out there and drive.” In addition, a big point of emphasis for most fuel-efficient fleets is eco-driving, which reduces fuel consumption, lowers emissions, and helps get the absolute most out of a tank of gas. Besides that, eco-driving creates minor wear and tear on a vehicle, often lowering the frequency for repairs and increasing its overall lifespan.
After implementing eco-driving training programs where drivers develop a thorough knowledge of the process, fleets spend 5 to 30% less annually on fuel, which is enormous at scale. Here are some specific driving best practices to focus on when training drivers:
- Accelerating and decelerating smoothly
- Keeping a steady speed
- Being selective when using air conditioning
- Not exceeding 50 mph
- Shutting vehicles down rather than letting them idle in non-driving situations
- Reducing the idle rate
Note that a critical feature of VQ-Efficiency is Idle Reduction, which reduces the idle rate without affecting heating performance or ventilation. As a result, it eliminates many harmful greenhouse gases and helps you create a more eco-friendly fleet.
As we’ve learned, several factors contribute to your fleet spending bottom line. There’s how much equipment and materials vehicles are hauling, tire pressure, idle rate, and driver behavior, to name a few. Getting a grasp of the essentials and taking a proactive approach by implementing cutting-edge technology, following best practices, and investing in driver education should help you refine this area of operations and reduce fleet spending.