Diesel prices in the UK are amongst the highest in the world, and three out of five of the 50 most expensive countries in the world to buy diesel are in the EU. For fleets operating in the UK and across Europe, fuel can constitute a large portion of overheads, whilst the unforgiving profit margins in the transport industry mean consuming less fuel can have a significant impact on a business’ bottom line. 

Fuel efficiency should be the top of the agenda for fleet owners aiming to reduce operational overheads and drive overall business profitability. With so many aspects of fuel efficiency dependent on driver behaviour and vehicle maintenance, the simple answer to lowering fuel costs lies with spreading awareness. With the right practices embedded into daily operations, as well as the right tools to monitor areas where fuel efficiency can be improved, reducing fuel consumption can be as easy as a Sunday drive.

Cutting down on excess fuel consumption

Getting to grips with data and analytics can be a simple way to help drive improvements in this area. Technologies such as fleet tracking can help identify problem areas. By running a simple report, fleet managers or business owners can gain a clear picture of how their vehicles are utilised and which vehicles are racking up the most fuel expenses. With this intelligence, they can also more effectively plan how drivers’ days are scheduled. This helps reduce the number of miles covered each day to make cost savings and increase energy efficiency. 

Monitoring driver behaviour 

Making efforts to minimise fuel consumption a step further, fleet management software can help managers monitor how drivers are impacting fuel consumption and overall efficiency. For example, fleet-management software can help make it simple to spot undesirable driving habits such as speeding, idling and other actions that can waste fuel and resources.

Not only can speeding put the driver and other vehicles at risk, it can also reduce fuel efficiency and increases costs. Fleet-management tools can help business owners see which drivers speed on the job and can coach them to improve their behaviour. It can also identify which drivers leave their engine on whilst loading, waiting for jobs, or being generally neglectful with their vehicle. By having a clear picture of how drivers are performing, managers can reward their best performers for sticking to their key performance indicators (KPIs) and helping the business to run more efficiently.  

Staying on top of vehicle maintenance 

Vehicles that receive regular maintenance usually run more efficiently and waste less fuel. By using a fleet management system, businesses can stay on top of vehicle health and receive pre-emptive maintenance alerts. These systems can track key indicators such as engine on-time and mileage, depending on the type of service a vehicle may need. Once a vehicle hits a point where maintenance may need to be checked, an automatic email can be issued, or an alert can come up in the reporting suite.

By taking extra care of the fleet, vehicles can run more efficiently and have a smaller environmental footprint. It can also decrease the likelihood that vehicles will need to be taken off the road for unscheduled repairs – helping to reduce the risk of an LCV malfunctioning out on a job as well as boosting safety.

Making the most of the fleet

Near-real-time data is particularly effective to help drivers find the best and quickest routes to cut down on wasted fuel. Fleet managers can also plot which driver is closest to the job to optimise operations across the entire fleet at any one time. By driving energy efficiency gains in this area, managers can also improve customer service by providing a more accurate ‘estimated time of arrival’ to customers. 

Making the fleet more energy efficient can be easier than it sounds. By making very small changes to cut down on fuel wastage, optimise routes and change driver behaviour, businesses can quickly see the results. By increasing energy efficiency, other key business priorities can also start to improve, from customer satisfaction to driver safety and cost savings.

Derek Bryan, Vice President EMEA, Verizon Connect