More Miles, More Problems

The traditional thinking in logistics goes that if you want your company to make more, you’ll hire drivers known for getting to their destinations quickly. The latest research, however, doesn’t support that idea.

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Fleet managers are used to pushing their truckers for more miles. If truckers don’t make deliveries on time, companies can lose bids on projects - and maybe end up shutting the doors for good. The traditional thinking in logistics goes that if you want your company to make more, you’ll hire drivers known for getting to their destinations quickly.

The latest research, however, doesn’t support that idea. Instead, you should look into hiring the most fuel-efficient driver. After all, efficient drivers can save up to 30 miles per gallon over their fuel-wasting counterparts.

Small steps and company messaging are all that’s really needed to change the way your top drivers perform.

1. Change the Way You Think about Miles

We’ve covered it a little above, but this really deserves extra thought. It’s common knowledge that the best speed for trucks to travel is between 60 mph and 65 mph on interstates, but many don’t realize that the financial penalty for not doing so is steeper than the fine for speeding. If your truckers stay speed-governed at 60 mph instead of the standard 70, you could save up to $6,300 per truck each year, or 4.5 cents per mile

2. Stop Idling

Idling is the quickest way to needlessly burn up fuel. Of course, if your trucker is in a long line of traffic, some idling is unavoidable. But leaving trucks running while the driver slips out for a smoke or to get snacks is unacceptable. In an average fleet, idling accounts for around 8 percent of total fuel use. Any more than 10 seconds of idling actually uses more fuel than simply turning off the engine and restarting it. An APU that runs on batteries will completely replace the need to run the engine for temperature control or powering up devices.

3. Require Regular Maintenance Checks

Keeping air pressure even and at recommended levels can save you big. Make it part of truckers’ daily routines, and offer bonuses for those who keep journal entries logging the time they spend at the task. Experts saw fuel savings of up to 1.5 percent when tires were managed properly, but this tends to be an extreme figure. However, the savings from tire maintenance really piles up when applied to the longevity of the tires themselves. Any manner of malady can befall a tire that isn’t inflated properly, from threads breaking due to over-inflation to the tire belt snapping because of under-inflation. There are even special tires that can save you even more.

4. Implement (and Require) GPS Tracking

Fuel management techniques just aren’t effective without fleet-tracking software to back them up. Remember the idling problem? With fleet-tracking software, it can go from an average of 462 hours idling per week to just 72. The savings are incredible. Fleet tracking tech can also manage speed governance. If you implement it, you could see tickets for speed violations dropping from an average of 117 to 3 per week.

Balancing fuel efficiency and deadlines isn’t easy, but it’s financially worth it to make the effort. When in doubt, err on the side of efficiency. As long as a contract or client relationship isn’t in jeopardy, you’ll end up saving big in the long run.

Danielle M. writes on behalf of OmniTracs, Inc. She is a part time student at The Kelley School of Business studying supply chain management and marketing. She has a special interest in how technology can piece together with lean manufacturing principles to make supply chain management more efficient. She enjoys studying how businesses have incorporated relatively small technologies like EOBRs that start huge, industry-wide changes.

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