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Fuel Card: Reduce & Control Fleet Fuel Costs

April 21, 2011 by Andrew Mead

Fuel Costs

Global Positioning System (GPS) vehicle tracking has rapidly gained popularity among fleet owners as the technology becomes more affordable and easier to access.

In general, GPS fleet tracking uses the GPS satellites to find the positions of each of the vehicles through triangulations and assigns a time and date to track time and location information of fleet vehicles. This information is then transmitted to a remote user who can monitor vehicle location, speed, routing, idle time, engine start up and shut down, and much more.

This information can be used to improve a host of fleet management operations including the reduction of fuel costs. According to a study by the Aberdeen group (a research firm that studies the effects of technology) on business, fleets with GPS tracking installed experience a 13 percent reduction in fuel costs on average.

Here are five proven ways fleet owners can use GPS vehicle tracking to help reduce fuel costs.

Reducing Vehicle Speed

Each  5 mph driven above the posted speed limit has the net effect of costing about 63 pence more per litre of fuel. Multiply that cost across several vehicles and you have a huge source of cost leakage.

Fleetmatics provides accurate speed information about each vehicle tracked, as well as alerting features that will notify you immediately when a vehicle exceeds a set speed threshold.

Decreasing Idle Times

Every hour of idle time is equal to approximately 25 miles of driving. Contrary to popular belief, restarting an engine uses no more fuel than 30 seconds of idling and has very little harmful impact on vehicle components. When drivers use their vehicles as climate control, it costs businesses money.

Fleetmatics notifies you when a vehicle idles for excessive periods of time, wasting fuel and being unproductive.

The automated reports and alerts allow companies like Silverdome Electric of Dublin, Ireland to recognise any excessive fuel usage and take the necessary corrective actions.

The idling reports show which drivers waste fuel by running their vehicles as climate control during hot or cold days. Silverdome Electric effectively uses the information from this report to significantly reduce idling times.

"We monitor fuel usage very closely," said Finian Kilty, General Manager. "Average fuel use should be 220 litres to 230 litres per month. I can quickly see if the guys go above that and do something about it."

Improved Routing and Dispatching

Since GPS tracking allows you to know the precise location of every vehicle, dispatchers can more effectively manage routing and dispatching. Dispatchers can ensure vehicles take the most direct route to any job site and can get lost drivers back on track. The lorry tracking solutions also provide current traffic conditions so you can divert drivers around delays.

Some GPS solutions have the ability to locate the vehicles that are closest to any job site. With this information, managers can ensure jobs are assigned in the most efficient manner possible.  In addition, fleet managers will know if drivers use vehicles for unauthorised journeys or purposely take extended routes to job sites.

For a company like Best Electrical of Hertfordshire that averages 250 jobs per week with eight vehicles covering such a large geographic area, inefficient dispatching can waste thousands of pounds.

With fleetmatics fleet management software, you have the Nearest Vehicle Locator to pinpoint the vehicle closest to any job site. With this feature, Best Electrical can respond faster to emergency calls and dispatch the engineer that can get there first.

This not only helps improve response times for clients, it helps to reduce fuel usage by reducing the number of miles each vehicle travels.

"Our fuel costs have gone down dramatically," said Robert Ranson, Director of Operations for Best Electrical. "And we now have a much better response time than our competitors."

Proper Vehicle Maintenance

Vehicles that receive regular maintenance run more efficiently and use less fuel than neglected vehicles.

A quality GPS fleet tracking system will also allow you to ensure your vehicles receive proper maintenance. Alerts can be set for each vehicle based on calendar time, engine on-time, or mileage depending on the type of service needed. When a vehicle is due for maintenance, you are notified via email or in the reporting suite.

A proactive vehicle maintenance program can also reduce the chance of your vehicles malfunctioning on the roadways and causing serious accidents. In addition, properly maintained vehicles help save your assets by keeping vehicles on the road to do more business and costing less money in repairs over time.

Fuel Card Integration

Many fleet managers use fuel cards to help control and manage fuel costs. Integrating fuel card usage with a lorry tracking system will give you complete visibility over your fuel spend.

Reports generated by fuel card companies are notoriously long and complicated. A GPS tracking system that allows you to integrate fuel card usage will present the information in an  easy to read format.

You will get precise fueling information for your overall fleet, as well as individual fuel usage of a specific vehicle. You can easily pinpoint any fuel wasting practices, or outright fuel theft.

Reliable card transaction information allows you to track accurate MPG, pinpoint the direct cause of high fuel consumption, eliminate fuel slippage, enforce fuel-saving driving habits, ensure your vehicles run efficiently and ultimately reduce your overall fuel costs.