Today, the fuel economy has become a hot topic in the world, especially among logistic businesses. Inflation rates skyrocketed as well as the oil prices which created extremely challenging circumstances for fleet managers. Even such enterprises as Walmart felt the impact of inflation and the energy crisis. Due to the dramatic economic downturn, Walmart lost 11% of its stock value in 24 hours. The company hasn’t lost so much in one day since 1987!
And while Fed representatives and American Petroleum ministry CEO recriminate, small and middle supply chains and logistics business owners need to find a way to save their businesses during this economic warfare. Although nobody can say for sure if the downturn will last long, we should be prepared for any outcome of these events.
In fact, pessimistic thoughts have no use and can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Many businesses start to shed their jobs and clients because of the negative expectations, collapsing the market by doing so. Instead of whining about the circumstances and looking for a scapegoat, we suggest you to get an effective solution to optimize your fuel costs and create a foundation for thriving that will last even after the downturn. In this article, you’ll know how you can use a fleet management system to optimize your costs and protect your business during these challenging times.
Practices to improve your fuel efficiency
Before we dive into the technical, let’s review some of the general practices that optimize your fuel management.
Fuel expenditure control
Obviously, to make the most of your fuel, you should be aware of how many resources you spend. Some drivers can be reckless when using your company's resources or even try to steal them. Fortunately, today we have all kinds of systems and sensors that collect fuel-related data so that you can spot overspending fast and take the necessary actions.
Preventive asset maintenance and replacement
A well-maintained vehicle uses fuel more efficiently than a distressed one. To ensure your cars consume optimally, you should always check their condition. With the right technologies, you can keep track of the vehicles’ health parameters in real-time and take immediate actions. Besides, keeping your vehicles in good shape improves driver’s safety and allows you to make timely asset replacements.
The faster the car goes, the more fuel it exhaust. Setting the speed and rpm (revolves per minute) limits for your drivers can save you a significant amount of money. Various types of vehicles have their own medium-speed limit that reduces fuel burnout. In addition, drivers will feel less fatigue, driving in a slower manner.
Route planning and tracking
Planning the most optimal routes to your destinations is vital for fuel economy. Since the first car was invented, it has always been. But now, the planning of the optimal path happens in real-time with the consideration of the traffic jams and other immediate factors.
What’s more, fleet management devices allow you to track the location of your vehicles. Sometimes, drivers alter the planned route to get their personal business done which leads to additional loss of fuel. Controlling this aspect of your fleet performance will allow you to reduce fuel expenses by preventing route deviations too.
How to Reduce Fuel consumption using fleet management software
Well, now let’s get down to business and find out what digital tools to leverage and how they are interconnected. In this part of the article, we will review the fuel management systems part by part along with their impact on your fuel consumption and saving.
IoT devices take a special place in fuel management systems. Using IoT, you can connect your vehicles and their parts (engine, gas tank, tires, etc.) to your FMS. The sensors will send real-time data on fuel consumption, asset health parameters, and driver’s behavior to the cloud IoT hub connected to your FMS. Then, depending on your system, you’ll get the data structured on your and drivers’ IoT interfaces.
IoT-powered asset connectivity is a game-changer for logistics and supply chain industries now. When properly integrated, IoT technology introduces all four-fuel saving practices.
As an icing on the cake, the IoT can bring more automation to your cars, reducing the possibility of human mistakes and adding the ultimate precision to speeding. But keep in mind that car automation requires AI and ML integrations for your FMS.
Fuel cards represent an alternative way of fuel payment that allows you to limit the amount of fuel your drivers can buy at a time, track their spending, and pay your fuel costs in one invoice. Besides, fuel cards (e.g.WEX, Comdata, Fleetcore) store the purchase details:
- Number of gallons purchased;
- Cost per gallon;
- Fuel grade;
- Driver ID;
- Fuel purchase time.
What’s more important, you can integrate analytical algorithms and 3d party software to derive statistical data from all these metrics. As a result, you will be able to have a more comprehensive outlook on your cost per mile, driver’s effectiveness, fueling locations, and spending. Makes it much easier for drivers to provide you with the data, sending all the data automatically to your fuel management system.
Fuel cards deal with fuel expenditure control and cost optimization. They deter drivers from stealing fuel recording the exact number of gallons and their prices. Also, some companies that provide fuel cards usually have discounts and special offers for business-level clients. It will allow you to save around 5% on your fuel expenses.
Telematics is the best route tracking and planning technology. It connects your assets to the GPS and other tracking devices, sending the location data to your FMS. Then, the data renders a digital map, displaying the current location and movements of a vehicle. Telematics uses IoT sensors and wireless connections, so we could classify it as a domain of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). At the same time, Telematics became so big that we should talk about it separately.
The technology enables fleet managers to track their assets, create the shortest and fastest routes, and count the driver’s idle time. As we mentioned before, route planning and vehicle tracking have a direct impact on fuel economy. The first reduces the mileage and the second prevents drivers from route deviations. But what about idle time? According to the US Department of Energy, heavy trucks burn up to 0.8 gallons of fuel per hour. Thus if you are a heavy fleet owner, the stakes of idle time become pretty high. Above that, the technology will assist in tracking fueling locations so you can be assured that your drivers use the gas pumps you are partnering with.
Custom or ready-made fleet management system
Now you have the technologies, so the next thing to do is to connect them to a well-designed and coded fleet management system. But how to create a great fleet management solution and, more importantly today - how to find the perfect cost/quality balance.
Businesses care about financial resources very much even when the market feels fine. But when a crisis hits, we tend to save as much as we can and invest only in the essentials. Sometimes, managers even get paralyzed by the fear of the wrong move and just continue trodding the old ways, when the crisis is the high time to reinvent business processes.
As John F. Kennedy once said: “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.” Thus, the crisis can push you to either find more effective ways of doing your business or stagnate and get behind.
The innovations will not only make your business invincible to the economic downturns but will give you the upper hand over your competitors after it passes. Considering that, making a solid investment into the custom fleet management systems seems like a reasonable choice.
However, the fully custom software can cost a fortune while you still need a solid amount of money for amortization and contingencies (which become a common thing during a crisis). So, there is another way - a semi-custom solution. It is common practice when you create a custom back-end part to cover your particular needs while taking the open-source UI/UX. Surely, the open-source tool can require some adjustments to fit your custom part perfectly. But still, it will be much cheaper than going full custom. To choose a boxed or SaaS fleet management solution, you can use our open-source and free comparison tool.
Integrate an effective fuel management solution today
If you decided to seize the opportunity of the crisis, we can help you create and integrate your fuel management system. Either custom or compiled of SaaS solutions and our free tools, we do our best to help our customers to find the solution that matches their current budgets and brings real value. If you need an FMS for your business or looking for improvements to the existing one, reach out to our fleet management system consultant here.
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