Any fleet manager worth their salt will know that fuel’s one of the biggest priorities in running daily fleet operations. Not only is fuel a huge expense – second largest after labour costs – but it can become a source of stress and potential losses. If you don’t take control of your fuel management, you’ll never ease that stress or prevent the loss of money.
Fuel management has been an analogue effort for many decades. However, in recent years, advancements in vehicle telematics and fleet management systems have proliferated the rise of cost-effective and reliable fuel management systems. Fuel management solutions are commonly integrated into larger fleet management systems.
Fleet management solutions will include a variety of unique tools that provide fleet managers with opportunities to digitalise and centralise all kinds of fleet operations data. Integrating fuel management tools help fleet operators optimise their fuel economy and fuel management process.
Incorporating fuel management systems and understanding fuel economy
Fuel management systems are telematics-based tools and fuel monitoring software that capture actionable data and provide real-time monitoring of your fleet. This helps operators better understand their fleet’s fuel consumption data and improve their fleet’s overall fuel economy. These fuel management telematics are either a stand-alone system and platform or a subdivision of larger fleet management systems and services that utilise these systems to optimise fuel efficiency.
Fuel economy, or efficiency, is an indicator used in the transportation industry to determine how far a vehicle can travel on one unit of petrol. Basically, this looks at how many kilometres a particular vehicle can travel on one litre; the farther the vehicle can travel, the higher the fuel efficiency. The fuel economy of a fleet company is determined by averaging out the fuel efficiency (or consumption rate) of all vehicles in operation.
In order to improve the overall fuel economy of one’s fleet, you’ll need to encourage sensible driving behaviour and ensure timely maintenance of all vehicles across your fleet. In addition, fleet managers need to monitor all their vehicles’ fuel efficiency and track petrol prices during the year as well as monitoring possible theft.
Fuel management systems will provide the foundations needed to collect and analyse all of this fleet operations data. The data collection and analysis performed across your fleet can provide actionable insights and invaluable optimisation potential. There are a range of tools and services within fuel management solutions that offer a range of benefits helping to improve your fleet’s fuel economy.
Here are some of the ways that automating and digitalising fuel management will improve your fuel economy:
Fuel logging and reporting
Fuel logging and reporting refers to the collection of fuel purchase details for a vehicle fleet. Through this process, fleet operators can pull useful basic data from their fuel logs, such as dates and times of transactions, prices per litre, litres purchased, up-to-date odometer readings, locations of petrol stations used, etc.
Fuel logging also serves as an important role for keeping up with fuel tax reporting, in addition to actual expenses. All of this information can be used to calculate, track and monitor your vehicle fleet’s fuel consumption, detect inefficiencies and identify suspicious transactions.
Monitoring and improving driver behaviour
Vehicle telematics have already evolved to prioritise driver training, behaviour monitoring and route efficiency. Electronic logging devices (ELDs) provide fleet operators with additional, usable data that helps them identify concerning behaviour. ELDs give managers the chance to measure hours of service, identify reckless driving and optimise routes by analysing the data and footage associated with their vehicles.
From idle time to harsh driving events and route choices, these ELDs provide the requisite data to monitor and improve each of these areas. ELDs pull information about events like harsh braking or turning, long-term idling and accident or collisions, which are analysed and used to improve overall fleet safety, driver training and fuel efficiency.
Fuel theft detection
Fleet companies are often surprised by their fuel costs exceeding their yearly projections. One of the biggest causes of these excessive expenses is fuel theft. Unfortunately, many fleet companies leave this number unmeasured and unaddressed. There are two key methods of fuel theft detection that help managers improve fuel economy.
Fuel skimming detection is conducted by using a special device that recognises and prevents your fuel card information from being cloned or skimmed. These detection tools and driver training programmes are combined to identify signs of tampering. Siphoning detection uses fuel level sensors and controller area networks to prevent fuel being siphoned into a different vehicle or container. Being able to read the exact fuel levels of a fleet’s vehicles gives invaluable detection capabilities to avoid fuel theft.
Performing timely maintenance can have a huge impact on your vehicle fleet’s fuel efficiency. Proper maintenance and upkeep of your trucks can improve your fleet company’s overall fuel economy by five-to-ten percent. Predictive maintenance is the process whereby your fleet management telematics tools are used to determine when trucks are running suboptimal or are in need of maintenance.
Some of the most important vehicle features to monitor for successful and reliable predictive maintenance are:
- Lubricants and/or engine oil
- Intake/exhaust system and particulate filters
- Engine cooling system
- Wheel alignment
- Air compressors
- Fuel filter systems
- Aerodynamic devices
- Electrical systems
- Air conditioning
Fuel storage and monitoring
Most large fleet companies will avoid purchasing petrol for each vehicle, separately. They’ll usually buy fuel in bulk and store it on their company’s premises which means that petrol’s available at all times and it’s far cheaper at bulk purchasing prices. This requires additional fuel management services because you now have to monitor your vehicles’ fuel consumption, as well as the overall fuel storage and distribution, and usage of onsite petrol tanks.
This makes several improvements to your fleet’s fuel management process. It alleviates the possibility of fuel theft or card skimming by turning your facilities into a safe and cost-effective place to refuel. After saving money by buying bulk petrol, fleet managers can incorporate a fuel control system into their larger fuel management and fleet management solutions to further improve efficiency.
These fuel management systems are an invaluable asset for fleet companies looking to improve their fuel economy. Putting the right amount of fuel into a vehicle, preventing that fuel’s theft, predicting vehicle maintenance needs, monitoring fuel usage and improving driver behaviour are just the beginning. Vehicle fleet telematics are making larger fleet management services more effective and capable by integrating new, cost-effective and impactful solutions, like a fuel management system.
If you’re looking for the latest in fleet management solutions or are wanting to integrate a fuel management system into your larger fleet operations, speak to one of our expert consultants at Landmark Tracking.