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10 Ways to Cut Fuel Costs - Ask the Fuel Expert

By Jack Lee

Remember the good old days … about a year and a half ago? Prices at the pumps were hovering below three dollars per gallon, and they stayed the same for weeks. Well, the good old days are gone forever, and today we live in a world where fuel prices seem to go up by the hour.
For companies, the good old days meant fuel up and go. Little attention was paid to managing fuel. But in the past year, the price of oil has doubled, cutting deeper than ever into profits and causing owners and managers to adopt a new fuel consciousness.
You can’t control the price of fuel, but you can control your fuel consumption. How? The answer is fuel management.
Any company can improve its fuel efficiencies. It takes work and commitment from the head office to your people on the road and at the job sites. More and more companies are making changes in their operating practices to cut costs now and to be prepared for even higher costs in the future.
To help you adjust, here are 10 ways to cut fuel costs:
Train and educate your drivers: Your drivers can control fuel consumption each time they fire up their engines, and proper training can improve fuel efficiency, economy and emissions. Hard acceleration, speeding and idling are the biggest causes of fuel waste. Initiate a training course for drivers and reward participation.
Start off slower: This is a key lesson your drivers must be taught. Jackrabbit starts waste fuel and save less than 3 minutes per hour driving, but can result in using 40% more fuel and increase toxic emissions by 400%! What’s the rush?
Slow down: Speeding is dangerous, it wastes fuel and creates higher levels of toxic emissions. Speeds of more than 60 mph drastically impact fuel efficiencies – cars traveling at 80 mpg use 20% more fuel.
Decrease idling: Be aware of the time engines idle. No longer can we leave machinery and equipment running all day long. Stop your engines! Excessive idling adds to your fuel costs by as much as 50% and can shorten the life of engine oil by 75%, adding more costs.
Lose weight: Excess weight places unnecessary strain on your vehicle’s engine and greatly affects its fuel efficiency. By removing as little as 100 pounds, you can significantly improve your gas mileage. Check each vehicle, and pitch out that unnecessary weight!
Pump it up: Proper tire inflation improves gas mileage. Statistics show that improperly inflated tires can cost up to two weeks’ worth of fuel per year. How big is your fleet? Two weeks per vehicle per year adds up to thousands of dollars in lost profits.
Tune-up vehicles regularly: Do you have a stringent, well-managed maintenance policy? Many companies “fix it when it breaks.”
Use a fuel management system: This is the most powerful way to lower fuel costs and increase productivity. Available systems range from basic on-site refueling (which saves up to 20 minutes in wasted time and fuel each day, per vehicle) to automated fuel tracking (which details every gallon pumped into every vehicle by date, time, quantity and fuel type) to telematics (which measures overall fuel efficiency, vehicle performance, tracks fuel waste due to idling, speeding, etc., and identifies critical areas to improve efficiency and reduce fuel costs and emissions).
Upgrade your fleet: Whenever possible, invest in fuel-efficient vehicles. Modern diesel engines are far more fuel-efficient and perform better with modern diesel fuels such as ultra-low-sulfur diesel and biodiesel.
Implement advanced mobile asset management technology – wow, that’s a mouth full. You can measure and manage your fleet better when you have the right information. Tracking miles traveled, average speed and engine efficiency is critical to cutting fuel costs. This information will help your drivers and managers optimize routes with better planning
Once you have made a total commitment to managing your fuel better and changing some of your bad fuel habits, results will follow. Stick with it. Fuel prices are only going up.
Jack Lee is President and CEO of 4Refuel Canada Inc. He can be reached at askthefuelexpert@4refuel.com.

Article Abstract from March, 2010




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