It was really good to hear other people beating the drum on fuel efficiency at the RTF conference. In particular, the presentation from Ken Russell (BP Fuel distribution) highlighted both the upside and the frustrations of implementing a fuel efficiency programme.

Close to delivering a 10% improvement in fuel efficiency across a fleet of 35 vehicles, Ken certainly had many operators believing it may actually be possible in their own fleet. It always feels much more real when an operator stands up and tells the story, rather than us suppliers, and / or government agencies banging on about it.

One of the frustrations I heard from this case study, was that 3 different GPS systems were a part of the solution:

  • EROAD for their standard fleet management,
  • MiX telematics was subsequently installed in addition to EROAD to provide remote access to the engine management data to access fuel efficiency figures per driver
  • Navman – was installed in their third party driver trainer’s vehicle to provide engine management stats for their driving tests.

Anyone who works with GPS data on a regular basis knows that every system has its challenges, but it is rare to find anyone brave enough to install a second system to overcome the shortcomings of the first.

One of the good news stories that came out of this initiative for BP, aside from the obvious and significant financial saving, was the growth in their people. Drivers who were previously being lined up for disciplinary offences, became caught up in the programme and became recipients of the “most improved” monthly award.

Whilst it is easy to get lost in the maze of options to save fuel, from widgets, gadgets, research papers, workshops, additives, driver training options, and general hype, the basics are pretty simple.  Know what your goal is, make sure you can measure your improvement and encourage your staff to get involved.

The financial saving to your fleet is going to be significant. The overall value to your operation will be much more. Having drivers who understand how their driving habits affect the service provided to your customers takes a lot of pressure off. Being rewarded for taking the initiative and generally “doing the right thing” encourages your drivers to contribute far more to your business than just shifting stuff from A to B. Operating costs go down – not just fuel, but other R&M costs too. Your staff become more of a family – communicating between themselves more effectively and so the cost of rework and half loaded trucks goes down too.

So we are all talking about fuel efficiency because real dollars saved are worth every cent in this industry, but if you want to run a really efficient business, looking at fuel efficiency is just a convenient starting point for moving your operation to the next level. We are seeing our customers experience major shifts in perspective as their results in one area spur them onto greater application in the next.

You don’t necessarily need 3 GPS systems to get you there but, as this case study shows, the right attitude will take you on an interesting journey to a rewarding destination.

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