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7 min read.

How to Reduce Fleet Fuel Costs & Optimize Your Fleet

Jan 3, 2024 4:46:03 PM

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Truck drivers play an essential role in our economy by keeping the transportation of goods running smoothly. But with fuel prices often being a big operational expense, finding ways for how to reduce fleet fuel costs is important for fleet operators. If you're someone who oversees fuel fleet management, then you're most likely looking for ways to reduce fleet expenses by increasing fuel efficiency. By using a combination of smart driving techniques, technological advancements, and operational adjustments, businesses can increase fuel efficiency and establish an efficient fuel management system for their vehicles and drivers.

The Importance of Fleet Fuel Management

Effective fuel management is important for minimizing fuel costs, but it can also benefit other areas of your business. First, fuel management can help drivers adhere to regulations that can incur costly fines if they're not followed. Many regions have strict regulations regarding emissions and fuel usage, and proper management ensures that fleets remain compliant. Having a good fleet fuel management system can also help drivers track when their vehicles need repairs and updates. This can contribute to the efficiency and longevity of the vehicles and avoid the likelihood of breakdowns. And lastly, a good fuel fleet management system can minimize business costs by providing purchase controls and access to expense reporting. By having better oversight, fleets can prevent unauthorized purchases and stay within budget.

How to Reduce Fleet Fuel Costs

So, what are the best ways to figure out how to reduce fleet expenses? And how do these fit into a vehicle fleet management strategy? There are several ways to reduce fleet fuel costs, and if you manage a team of drivers (or even if you operate your own vehicle), then you might want to consider each as you look to maximize every dollar spent on fuel.

1. Cut down on idling.

Excessive idling is a major contributor to fuel waste. When trucks idle, they consume fuel without contributing to productive work, leading to unnecessary fuel expenditure. By minimizing idling time, trucks can decrease their fuel consumption. This reduction in fuel usage directly translates to cost savings, as less fuel is wasted during periods of inactivity. Reducing idling can also extend the life of engine components, further decreasing maintenance costs.

2. Use fleet fuel cards.

Many companies offer fuel card programs that provide discounts or rewards when using specific fueling stations. Taking advantage of these programs can result in substantial savings over time. Fleet and fuel management services provide detailed reporting on driver spending, discounts on fuel, and acceptance to commercial fueling sites. By using fleet fuel management solutions, fleet operators gain better insight into fleet activity which can help cut back on fuel costs.

3. Set purchase controls for drivers.

Many fuel card programs provide purchase controls to prevent overspending on fuel and other expenses. Whether you want to place a spending cap on dollars or gallons, restrict purchases to fuel only, or manage how often a driver can fuel, purchase controls are a helpful tool for fleets. Below is a list of setup options a fleet manager should look for when evaluating different fuel card programs:

  • Driver or Vehicle Cards: Fuel cards can be designated either by the driver's name or the vehicle's description. When assigned to a vehicle, the use of individual PINs for each driver can track who is responsible for each transaction.
  • Fuel Only: While some programs offer the flexibility of both fuel and maintenance, cards can also be restricted to just fuel if drivers are not required to make maintenance purchases.
  • Product Restrictions: Some fuel cards enable managers to restrict the type of fuel purchased (e.g., unleaded, diesel, dyed diesel, etc.) to match the type of vehicle and prevent employee misuse.
  • Time and Day Restrictions: Managers can specify fueling times and days for each card, especially if drivers do not work on the weekends.
  • Transaction Limits: The number of transactions per day can be controlled based on how often vehicles actually need to be refueled.
  • Dollar or Gallon Limits: Some fuel card programs allow limits on the gallons per transaction to match vehicle tank capacity. Other programs allow daily, weekly, and monthly spending limits to manage costs.

4. Monitor fleet spending.

If you manage a fleet of drivers, then it's imperative to know how your dollars are being spent, especially since you can't accompany every driver to the gas station when fueling needs to occur. Some of the best fleet monitoring tips include implementing or utilizing technology to keep track of driver activity and spending habits. Among the tools available, consider these options as you research fuel cards:

  • Online Account Access: Most programs offer online access where customers can view transactions and invoices. This feature allows users to log in anytime to check driver activities, and download transactions, invoices, or reports.
  • Odometer Reading Requirement: By requiring drivers to enter the vehicle's odometer reading at each refueling, fleet managers can monitor miles per gallon (MPG) and cost per mile (CPM). Deviations in MPG or CPM can indicate potential misuse or signal vehicle maintenance needs.
  • Customizable Email Alerts: For situations where setting strict card limits is not practical, managers can still keep a close eye on card usage. Alerts can be configured for specific cards or for transactions that meet certain conditions, such as purchases of unleaded fuel or activity during weekends.

5. Provide driver training.

Driver training and education programs can also impact fuel efficiency. By educating drivers about fuel-saving techniques and the importance of their role in the company's cost-saving efforts, trucking companies can encourage efficient driving. Simulator training can be particularly effective in teaching drivers how to optimize fuel consumption in various scenarios, such as navigating challenging terrains or adverse weather conditions. Incentivizing fuel-efficient driving behaviors through performance bonuses or recognition can also motivate drivers to use more economical driving habits.

6. Optimize route planning.

One of the most effective strategies for improving your fleet fuel management solutions is optimizing route planning and navigation. Modern GPS systems and route planning software take into account real-time traffic, road closures, and weather conditions to offer the most fuel-efficient route options. By avoiding congested routes and roadblocks, drivers can minimize idle time, excessive braking, and unnecessary detours, all of which contribute to increased fuel consumption. Below are some popular route optimization apps that drivers can use to plan efficient routes and learn how to increase fuel efficiency:

  • Google Maps: While not exclusively designed for trucking, Google Maps offers a reliable navigation option with real-time traffic updates and route suggestions. It's a good starting point for basic route planning.
  • Waze: Similar to Google Maps, Waze provides real-time traffic information and user-reported incidents. It's particularly useful for avoiding traffic jams and finding alternate routes.
  • Trucker Path: This app offers features like truck-specific routing, rest area and truck stop locations, fuel prices, and real-time parking availability.
  • CoPilot Truck: CoPilot Truck is a navigation app designed for truck drivers. It provides truck-specific routing, taking into account vehicle dimensions, weight restrictions, and road attributes suitable for trucks.
  • Sygic Truck Navigation: Sygic is a truck navigation app that includes features like truck-specific maps, points of interest (POI) tailored for drivers, and warnings for steep gradients, sharp turns, and other potential challenges.
  • Route4Me: This app is suitable for route optimization which can help improve fleet management fuel consumption. It helps drivers plan the most efficient routes for multiple stops, considering factors like delivery windows and traffic conditions to reduce fuel usage.
  • Trimble MAPS: Trimble MAPS offers truck-specific navigation and routing solutions. It considers factors like truck dimensions, weight limits, and hazardous materials restrictions. This app serves as a great solution for improving fleet management fuel consumption since it helps with optimizing trucker routes.
  • HERE WeGo: HERE WeGo provides detailed mapping and navigation services. It offers route planning with options to avoid tolls and choose routes suitable for commercial vehicles.
  • SmartTruckRoute: This app is dedicated to providing truck-specific navigation. It offers route suggestions based on vehicle features and helps drivers avoid low bridges, weight limits, and other restrictions.
  • InRoute Route Planner: InRoute is a versatile route-planning app that's not only useful for drivers in the transportation industry but also for those in various delivery-based professions. It considers weather conditions, elevation, and fuel cost in route planning.
  • Roadtrippers: While primarily used for road trips and travel planning, Roadtrippers can also be handy for drivers looking for interesting stops and scenic routes during long journeys.

7. Use a fuel management system for fleets.

Trucking companies can implement a fuel management system to reduce fleet fuel costs. Fuel management systems are tools that fleet managers use to monitor, control, and reduce fuel consumption for businesses that rely on transportation. These systems often include fuel transaction tracking, vehicle fuel use monitoring, and data cost analysis to make operational improvements. By using fleet fuel management solutions, fleet operators can have better insight into fleet activity and cut back on fuel costs.

Top Fleet Fuel Payment Solutions from P-Fleet

If you manage a fleet of vehicles, then you should consider signing up with P-Fleet to help with your fleet and fuel management services. P-Fleet offers a comprehensive solution for fleet management with specialized trucking fuel cards, designed to streamline fuel expenses and enhance efficiency for fleets of all sizes. These cards bring many benefits, including significant cost savings through discounts at a wide network of fueling stations, allowing fleets to reduce their fuel expenses. These fleet cards offer more control over fuel expenditures with customizable limits and restrictions, allowing fleet managers to monitor and manage fuel usage effectively. By signing up with P-Fleet, fleet managers can simplify administrative tasks and view fleet fueling activity online. Overall, trucking fuel cards can be a useful tool for fleets, providing cost savings, control, and insight, all of which leads to a more efficient and cost-effective fleet management system.

Learn what is considered a safe refueling practice →

Topics: Fuel Cards
Kira Odlozil

Written by Kira Odlozil

Based in San Diego, CA, Kira Odlozil is the Digital Content Coordinator at P-Fleet. She writes about fuel management, the trucking industry and business-related topics. When Kira isn’t writing, she’s cooking up new recipes, doing yoga, traveling or all of the above.