Fuel has edged labor out of the top cost position at many fleets today. As a result, companies are looking for every possible opportunity to save pennies at the pump.
Here is a short list of fuel-conserving tactics, along with links to some resources that can help get the job done:
- Dramatically reduce idling. This is still the low-hanging fruit for most fleets, even for regional carriers with day cab operations. The calculator provided by Argonne National Laboratory can help you determine the costs and benefits of installing various idle reduction solutions: www.transportation.anl.gov/pdfs/TA/361.pdf
- Take a hard look at spec’ing equipment to improve fuel economy, even if it means retrofitting existing vehicles. EPA SmartWay has developed a set of specs to help guide the process and even offers low-cost loans to make it easier. In addition, several truck makers are now selling trucks that are EPA SmartWay certified as being high fuel-efficiency vehicles and retrofit grants are available in some areas. See www.epa.gov/otaq/smartway.
- Reduce your average price per gallon by using a fuel purchasing card from one of the major suppliers using fuel purchasing optimization software.
- Explore the various grant opportunities available now to help offset the cost of making your fleet more fuel-efficient. Information can be found at: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/cleancities/ and www.westcoastdiesel.org/programs.htm.
- Use route optimization software, if you are not already, to reduce out-of-route miles and deadheading.
- Use a driver performance monitoring system to identify opportunities to improve fuel economy by improving driver performance in areas such as managing speed, optimizing shifting and reducing idling.
- Take advantage of off-the-shelf training programs available to help teach drivers how to conserve fuel. ITI/Tread-1, for instance, is making their interactive video training program on driving for fuel efficiency available online to qualified drivers at no charge in June.
- Consider hybrids if they are a fit for all or a portion of your fleet. Several truck makers will be rolling out hybrid trucks this year. If they fit your application, they have the potential to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 60%.
- Contact your State representatives, senators and governors about reducing fuel taxes (even for the short term). The trucking industry has official lobbying organizations, but as citizens, voters and business owners you can also make a real impact by calling legislative comment hotlines and e-mailing or writing to your elected officials. http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml provides contact information.