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#GeotabAfrica – Fuel Increases Require Cost Control

Petrol Price to Increase 47c Litre

The Department of Energy on Friday 29th May 2015 announced that the price of fuel will increase by 47 cents per litre for all grades of fuel. April 2015 saw a price increase of R1.62 and remained unchanged in may 2015.

It seems that we are now entering the expected correction period in global crude prices as the US stockpiles reduced for a second consecutive week, and the unrest in the Middle East will also not bode well for oil prices continuing the downward trend driven by OPEC and the US drive in greater oil production, only time will tell.

The fact is that fuel price increases is forecasted to continue over the next financial period, and business would have to continue to drive cost saving and monitoring measures on fuel cost drivers.

The question always remains, how and where can we save fuel, so we thought we would put a list together on possible fuel saver areas…, feel free to add some of your own in the comments section.

Train and Sensitise Drivers on Fuel Usage and Savings

You will be surprised at the positive impact of training and sensitising sessions can have on fuel usage in your fleet, we have seen in many instances that just an awareness creation drive in a company can have a positive impact, by providing tips and best practices to drivers the positive effect can be multiplied significantly.

Think Aerodynamics

There are relatively simple and also more advanced principals that can be applied in reducing “drag” on vehicles, the most obvious ones are to keep your windows closed whilst driving at highway speeds and to drop/open your pickups tailgate when empty.

The more advanced solutions, especially in the trucking industry, is a very interesting area and a great paper on this area can be found here.

Think Consistency

Driver Behaviour in terms of driving style is critical to fuel usage in a fleet, harsh braking, harsh acceleration and speeding are the most obvious ones and therefore it’s critical to manage these as a start, but take it further and educate your drivers on gradual, smooth acceleration and deceleration as well as the optimum gear changing revolutions point on their vehicles, both down gearing (where required) and up gearing as they accelerate.

Smooth driving also has the benefit of spending less time at traffic lights, especially if flow of traffic is well timed and part of the smooth driving implementation.

Keep Vehicle Cool

Air-con use should be limited as much as possible, however in summer heat it is extremely difficult to request your drivers not to use the air conditioner at all, however there are a few tips that can save fuel despite air-con use, here are some we thought of:

  • Park vehicle where possible in the shade and get all your drivers a windscreen shade
  • Invest in anti smash and grab shading for all windows, you get the benefit of cooler vehicle and smash and grab
  • Teach drivers to keep windows closed when air-con is activated

Note: Aircon is more effective than an open window at speeds above 80 kmh 

Planning Traffic Hours and Routes

Traffic conditions, especially in cities and during peak hours could significantly add to your fuel costs, especially during load-shedding in South Africa, and the better you plan your routes and timing of your vehicles in the field around these, the better fuel usage you will get from your fleet. Similarly route optimisation and real time resource to requirement allocation can significantly assist in your drive for lower fuel usage.

Authorised Use Manage

Your fleet vehicles main job is to be used for your requirements, and monitoring and managing your assets to not be used for anything outside work related tasks can significantly enhance fuel usage in your fleet, we have seen many cases where fleet vehicles are used for personal use, sometimes way outside the authorised area of use, we even saw some vehicles being used for taxi services.

Don’t Forget the Wheels

Wheel alignment and tyre pressures play a vital role in efficiency of fleets and fuel usage, ensure that these are done regularly and train your drivers to constantly monitor these prior to going on the road, at least once a week (Prior to start of day when tyres are cool).

For reference Michelin in one study calculated that poor pressures in tyres can add as much as 6% to your fuel bill.

Idling Times

It is incredible how much a fleet can save through management of idling in fleets…

We have done many studies for a number of fleets and managed to save some fleets incredible amounts of money. Some may think that this is a myth, but idling in fleets can cost you a lot of money, we are not talking necessary idling here but wastage idling, wastage idling refers to idling that is not part of day-to-day driving (such as at traffic lights or the stop-start morning peak traffic), but more extended idling periods, such as when drivers wait in front of customers premises during security check ins, drivers keeping engine running for heater or air-con purposes, drivers keeping vehicle idling during on-loading/off-loading, and a host of other areas where idling may be considered wastage.

Keep in mind that in modern engines it is considered more economical to switch off your vehicle if idling for longer than 20 seconds.

Other Areas Worth Exploring

Full Tank Vs Half Tank

There is a logic that not filling your vehicle with a full tank may result in greater fuel savings, a study on this can be found here and it’s worth reading the report as a point to ponder when looking at your specific fleet.

What’s in Your Boot?

Encourage drivers to not haul unnecessary weight around in their boots and to keep weight in their vehicle to a minimum.

Browse and Learn

There are many very cool sites on fuel efficiencies, some with good advice and others a little but on the mmmmmm side, nonetheless we love the following (Just Click and Go):