Fuel remains one of the most costly items on a fleet's bottom line — typically ranking number two, right behind driver wages and benefits — so carriers are deploying an ever-widening variety of methodologies to keep fuel costs under tight control.

“While negotiated discounts are a good start, making smarter purchases within your network of fuel stops will save you even more money,” said Matt Braslavsky, information technology (IT) director for TL carrier CalArk International.

During a presentation at Manhattan Associates' Momentum 2010 User Group meeting, Braslavsky and Nick Cook, vp & CIO for refrigerated carrier FFE Transportation, stressed that even tiny savings in fuel costs on a per-gallon basis can reap big savings for fleets.

“Right now, we're saving between 3.5 to 4¢ per gallon through enhanced fueling and routing optimization,” he noted, primarily by “locking down” fuel cards so drivers can only purchase a set amount of fuel at specific locations.

“It sounds harsh to do that, but it's the only way we found to maximize our fuel savings,” Braslavsky said, noting that the carrier could only achieve 45% compliance with fueling and routing directives prior to the lockdown. Post lockdown, compliance reached 95%.