Fuel costs are down slightly since last year…but only slightly…and carriers are hardly celebrating. That means drivers and fleet managers are on the hunt for strategies that will help them reduce fleet fuel costs.
Like you, they know every gallon saved means more money in their pockets, and in that of their drivers’.
So, we thought we’d share a few thoughts on how some carriers we work with are improving fuel efficiency and, more importantly, how they’re teaming with their drivers to make fuel cost reductions happen.
Let’s get started…
Reduce fleet fuel costs with targeted driver training
Your drivers are THE biggest key to fuel cost savings. So, making sure they’re driving as efficiently as possible is critical to any fuel cost cutting program. And, of course, data analytics help you target the drivers that need training most.
When we spoke with Joe Ford at Yowell Transportation, he said EOBRs gave him the power to monitor driving habits. And that, in turn, gave his fleet managers the information needed to coach drivers who showed patterns of excessive hard braking and speeding—all behaviors that eat fuel.
Those insights translated into big savings for the carrier.
Joe said, “In our first quarter, we went from 5.6 miles per gallon to 6.4. That’s huge…it’s numbers like those that drive a quick ROI.”
Reducing idle times for fuel consumption savings
On average, a tractor will burn a gallon of diesel for every hour that it idles. Of course, you already knew that.
So, how do we cut idle times, while ensuring drivers are comfortable—and therefore safe and rested behind the wheel? How can we make our biggest gains?
Well, it’s really a two-pronged answer:
1) Monitor driver idle times
When fleet managers are able to monitor idle times, they’re armed with the information they need to take action. Who’s idling their rig for extended periods of time when sitting at a dock? When logged off-duty? When that becomes clear, it’s easy to know which drivers should come in for a conversation.
2) Install auxiliary power units (APUs)
Of course, shutting down your rig isn’t always the answer. Sometimes, extreme weather can make conditions inside the cab unbearable—and a driver that can’t rest comfortably, can’t drive safely either.
At the Truck Driver Social Media Convention just a few weeks ago, a Dynasys rep talked about his company’s solution. He shared that, with APUs, drivers can shut down and remain comfortable, regardless of weather conditions, while reducing fleet fuel costs by an average of $8,000 per truck, per year.
An extra $8k per year? That’s hardy something to sneeze at.
Driver incentives help reduce fleet fuel costs
Of course, drivers are already feeling pressured from all directions. So, partnering with your driving talent and rewarding their success are important factors in big, lasting change.
Two carriers we chatted with shared these important driver incentive success stories:
1) Reward your truck drivers
Tiger Lines was implementing EOBRs for improved Hours of Service compliance and fuel efficiency, and they knew they needed to get their drivers excited about the solution. So, the carrier launched a bonus program: any driver who helped reduce fleet fuel costs through improved driver behaviors (reduced idle times and speeding, etc.) would receive a bonus check.
Jackie Lopez, part of the Tiger Lines safety team, said, “The company determined that by any given driver not idling his or her truck, it saved Tiger Lines ‘X’ amount of dollars, and the company was going to pass those savings on to them.”
*Insert vinyl record needle scratch*
Say that again?
Yes, Tiger Lines turns over ALL of its fuel cost savings to its drivers.
Jackie said, “Some drivers are really happy about this program because they get nice big checks. And once we started the bonus program, all the drivers wanted Turnpike because they saw their fellow truckers getting monthly bonus checks of up to $200.”
So, drivers get bonuses for their fuel savings, and Tiger Lines saves money on service costs and engine maintenance related to overall truck wear. We like the sound of that!
2) Foster friendly competition
Small fleet owner, Sal Gonzalez, decided a little friendly competition might be just the ticket. And he was right.
So, Sal began posting driver scorecards where all of his truckers could see the results, and he rewarded his best drivers with gift cards. That’s when the good natured rivalry began, as each driver tried to beat the other drivers’ idle times, MPG and hard-braking metrics.
It proved to be a big success in helping reduce fleet fuel costs, and the rewards let Sal’s drivers know their hard work was appreciated.
And let’s face it—you get the best results when it’s a win-win.