Recently, Jack Frost has taken a bite out of some of us while Mother Nature has shined warmly on others. It’s that time of the year when weather conditions can change quickly without notice, for the best or the worst. But one thing you can count on this winter is that harsh operating conditions will happen fast, so you must be prepared.
Winter operations mean more fuel consumption, so here are ten recommendations to maximize your fuel investment during cold weather. With over 6,000 clients using our Fuel Management solutions we have discovered these are the best ways to cut wasted fuel. Here is the list of Jack Lee’s Top Ten ways to cut down on cold weather fuel costs:
- Train and educate your drivers: Your drivers can control fuel consumption each time they fire up their engines. 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.
- Use Fuel Management Online Software: FMO is a software suite from 4Refuel that puts you in touch with all the fuel consumption data you will need to cut your fuel expenses, guaranteed. Information is available to your desk top including refueling location, the unit fueled and where fill ups were done. 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. FMO sets up easily to import and export your data and it is incredibly user friendly.
- Decrease Idling: Be aware of the time engines idle. Excessive idling ads to your fuel costs by as much as 50% and can shorten the life of engine oil by 75%, adding even more costs. Initiate a campaign to reduce idling time and reward participants. Allowing an engine to idle more than 3 minutes causes expensive damage which harms efficiency, shortens engine life and increases maintenance costs. It all adds up.
- Start off slower and stop speeding: 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? Speeding is dangerous; it wastes fuel and creates higher levels of toxic emissions. Speeds over 100 km/hour drastically impact fuel efficiencies. Trucks traveling at 120 km/hour use 50% more fuel and they also emit 100% more carbon monoxide, 50% more hydrocarbons and 31% more nitrogen oxides.
- 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!
- Upload your odometer readings to maximize fuel efficiency. FMO gives you the capability to compare mileage records with fuel consumption at the click of a mouse. When you have all this information, fleet management is simple, and you can cut fuel costs fast when you see a unit that is operating outside of predetermined thresholds.
- Cut the time you spend calculating IFTA reporting: If you cross provincial, state or national borders you know how much time it takes to file International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) and time is part of calculating your true cost of fuel. FMO will cut your time spent gathering tax information for fleets that cross the U.S. – Canadian border. Refueling data can be batched by region to each specific refueling station so you know to which jurisdiction the fuel taxes are owed.
- Upgrade your Fleet: Whenever possible, invest in modern, 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 bio-diesel. Measure each piece of equipment for fuel efficiency and get rid of the under performing ones.
- Service your fleet regularly. This includes having a stringent, well-managed preventive maintenance policy. Regular tire pressure checks can help you cut fuel too. A well maintained vehicle performs better, improves fuel efficiency, reduces toxic emissions and, in the long run, will cost less to maintain. Gather monthly maintenance reports and match them to your fleet numbers and you will stay on top of each unit as well as expenses.
- Import 3rd party refueling data. You can measure and manage your fleet better when you have all the information. If your fleet is on the move chances are you refuel from a number of sources whether it is on-site, via your own fuel storage tanks or at card locks. FMO pulls each source together in one report, by unit, so you can review, manage and eliminate wasted fuel.
Your winter fuel consumption will drop and so will your costs even if you employ only half of the suggestions above. That should give you some extra cash to use on heating your office and staying warm, rather than spewing those dollars out your tail pipe.
Jack Lee is CEO of 4Refuel – the largest onsite fuel management company in Canada and a global leader in technology designed to help businesses reduce their fuel expenses. Got a question about fuel? Ask the fuel expert by emailing Jack at [email protected].