3 Fleet Management Tactics For Lowering Fuel Costs

In the trucking business, every penny counts—especially when it comes to fuel spending. Single truck carriers/owner-operators may only need to be concerned with their own personal driving decisions, simplifying the issue. But for small, midsize, and larger carriers with 3 or more trucks to manage, there are many opportunities to start saving on fuel and gradually increase profits. By evaluating the following aspects of your fuel management strategy, you will likely be able to cut fuel costs without sacrificing quality or consistency in your service.

lowering fuel costs

Find Trucking Fuel Discounts

Depending on the location of your fleet and its operational needs, it may be possible to use networking and negotiation to mitigate fuel costs. When purchasing technology — like the Electronic Logging Devices that will soon become mandatory — carriers often seek discounted rates for bulk purchases. The same mindset should also be applied when sourcing fuel. As in exchange for contracting a large portion of your fuel purchase volume to a primary fuel vendor, fleets of every size stand to earn substantial fuel savings if they can negotiate a below-market price. For companies that cannot independently afford this option, it may also be possible to join a fuel-buying group, in which several different small carriers within the same community combine their fuel purchase volume and share costs on a discounted contract.

Make Fuel Come To You

Price isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to fuel. Apart from seeking discounts on fuel purchases, fleet owners should also work to optimize their fuel management program as much as possible. A common way to do this is installing/upgrading fuel storage tanks to become less dependent on outside fueling stations. Doing so gives fleets more fuel management options, opening the door to savings opportunities. But remember, mismanaging fuel inventory can still completely eliminate any savings that would have been found through bulk fuel purchases. Keep a close eye on fuel levels and plan orders accordingly to avoid fuel shortages and prevent the hefty fees that are incurred when a carrier does not have the capacity to receive a fuel that they ordered delivery.

Choosing Efficient Equipment

When purchasing more equipment for their fleet, most carriers know to review the most important features of the vehicle, such as the power of the engine, MPG, overall freight capacity, and integrity of the wiring. Yet, they may not be as concerned with the minute details that could help their drivers save money on truck fuel. This makes it even more important to keep an open mind when considering ways equipment can improve trucking fuel economy. For example, according to Mesilla Valley Transportation, shortening the gap between the trailer and tractor by only 18 inches can result in a 1-2% increase in fuel economy. Furthermore, a tractor that operates using a 6×2 configuration (2 powered wheels instead of 4) has been found to save weight and reduce parasitic drivetrain loss, saving an average of 2.5% in fuel costs. Even a component as seemingly insignificant as mud flaps have the potential to improve the aerodynamics of a rig (especially in wet weather). Together, these small changes could account for a potential 4.5% boost to fuel economy that will help save costs without any need for active resource management. Still, before making any large-scale purchases, it is important to gauge whether the bonus fuel efficiency achieved by these changes will mitigate the costs of the purchase in the long-term.

Understanding whether or not you need to make changes to your operation requires detailed knowledge of your business’s current fuel management habits. Experienced trucking professionals may be able to estimate the approximate efficiency of their fuel management strategy based solely on their industry expertise. But implementing software to calculate costs and benefits using real data from their business would greatly improve their ability to make effective strategic changes.