If you’re running a business and spend a bit of time on the road, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about how much fuel you’re using. Reducing fuel consumption can lead to a healthier bottom line and a more sustainable business. To cut back, you’ll need a plan, a bit of patience and the tenacity to chip away at it.
Here are six tips to get you started:
1. Measure before and after
The old adage 'what doesn’t get measured, won’t get managed' is true for fuel use. Get to grips with how much you’re currently using. Each time you fill up, record the kilometres travelled per litre (or the litres used per 100 kilometres). Filling the tank a couple of times over should be enough to give you a good baseline. It’s important to compare apples with apples. When you measure the benefit of fuel saving initiatives you’ve put in place, make sure you’re measuring fuel use for similar travel activity. An easy way to keep a track of how much fuel you’re using is with reporting available through fuel cards, like Z Card.
2. Set a target
According to research by Dutch company Transport and Mobility Leuven, a realistic target to set is a 7-10% reduction in fuel consumption. Make sure whatever target you choose is reasonable for your business given the kinds of driving you do. Share your fuel reduction target with anyone who drives for your business and get their ideas too. If you’ve got a few drivers in your team, a bit of healthy competition can fast track success. Set up a leaderboard and incentivise drivers with rewards and recognition.
3. Focus on safer driving
According to EECA, safe, smooth driving is also fuel efficient driving, using less fuel than harsh driving. Speeding is not only dangerous, and often doesn’t save any time, but it also burns through fuel. A 2012 report by Transport Engineering Research New Zealand found that reducing speeds by eight kilometres per hour can typically result in a fuel saving of 10-15%.
Ways to be safer on the road and save fuel at the same time include: maintaining a safe following distance, reading the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking, and driving smoothly at a constant speed with gentle acceleration and braking.
Want more pointers? SAFED NZ is a driver development course to improve truck, bus and coach driving and save fuel. Check out their helpful hints and tips.
4. Reduce idling
Some idling is productive but some isn’t. Idling that uses up fuel but doesn’t give you any added benefits include: warming up the engine longer than necessary, leaving the engine running during deliveries, and keeping the engine running in order to operate radios or equipment in the vehicle. Try to reduce these. Another tip is to avoid sitting in heavy traffic. Think about if you’re got any choices in the time of day you’re driving for work.
5. Optimise your route
One of the best ways to reduce fuel consumption is to eliminate trips. Better optimised routes and delivery schedules mean driving less, reducing fuel use, and cutting down on vehicle maintenance. Look at when, where and how you’re delivering. Has your delivery schedule become more habitual than efficient? Are you making more trips than you need to? Could you make any efficiencies between vehicles? Have a conversation with your customers about what their current needs are and if you can deliver in a way that reduces trips, for example, could you deliver at night?
6. Make sure your vehicles are well maintained
If your vehicles aren’t running properly they’ll use more fuel. Key areas to focus on are tyre quality and wheel alignment. According to EECA, a vehicle with tyres that are under-inflated by just 10 psi across an axle set uses 1% more fuel. Consider using fuel efficient tyres and keep a close eye on your vehicles’ general maintenance.