After wages, fuel is the second biggest direct expense for transport companies, accounting for around a third of all business costs.
Given this, it’s no surprise that the recent rise in fuel costs is having a sizeable impact on the trucking industry.
The 22.1 cent cut to the fuel excise has resulted in a mere 4.3 cent per litre reduction for truck drivers after factoring in the road user charge and the loss of Fuel Tax Credit.
Without adequate government relief, the industry will continue to bear the brunt, with consumers eventually taking on the cost.
However, the current situation offers a unique opportunity for operators to take control of fuel costs to ensure long-term success, rather than just weathering the fuel storm.
By exploring the causes of fuel inefficiencies and embracing the opportunities that telematics technology and fleet management solutions can bring to the table, drivers can stay on the move now and well into the future.
Here’s how technology, such as smart route mapping, can improve long-term fuel efficiency and reduce the impact of fuel costs.
Reducing unnecessary kilometres to save on fuel costs is the first, easy step truck drivers can take to improve long-term fuel efficiency according to Andrew Rossington, Teletrac Navman Chief Product Officer.
“At its most basic level, GPS fleet tracking gives businesses instant visibility to allocate fleets more efficiently and enhance fleet accountability,” he says. “Beyond this, AI-powered telematics technology also measures everything from driver locations to time spent at a job and travelling time.”
The telematics platform allows for optimised route planning that shaves off unnecessary kilometres from trips.
The application considers scheduled stops for jobs and waypoints vehicle operators must pass through for compliance.
The prepared journey is then available in real-time to select through the driver’s in-vehicle device.
“If you’ve deviated from your set path, you’re notified and immediately directed back to the defined route via the safest roads,” says Andrew.
“Back-office staff are also alerted, helping managers identify consistent problems and overcome inefficiencies — simultaneously saving on fuel and protecting assets while increasing driver safety and compliance.”
Predictive maintenance is an essential tool in a transport business’s belt.
Proactively maintaining assets and keeping them at the top of their game ensures they operate smoothly, improving fuel efficiency.
Equipment management solutions use historical data to identify and alert fleet managers of what equipment needs maintenance and when.
Digitised systems fully automate maintenance routines with custom schedules and real-time access to equipment diagnostics and inspection reports.
Key vehicle parts to keep in peak shape include tyres, motor oil, engine fans, sensors and battery cables.
Ensuring these are well-maintained can have significant benefits for fuel efficiency.
For example, reduced tyre pressure, misaligned wheels, and bad spark plugs can increase resistance, reducing fuel efficiency by up to 30 per cent, which equates to an added cost of 11–33 cents per litre.
“Using automated digital tracking solutions makes predictive maintenance an easy task for businesses and helps to avoid costly breakdowns,” says Andrew. “It also greatly reduces manual labour on paper-based processes — increasing efficiency and savings both on and off road.”
Driving performance and its improvement is another key indicator. Of course driving performance can drastically impact fuel efficiency.
Driving faster than necessary, aggressive acceleration, harsh braking, and idling can all burn through excessive fuel. Reducing a truck’s average speed from 113 km per hour to 105, for example, can reduce fuel consumption by up to six per cent.
Equipping your vehicle with a Smart Dashcam, which combines the power of AI technology with telematics data and advanced onboard sensors, provides insight into these metrics and identifies training opportunities.
The camera provides alerts in real-time to reduce inefficient driving habits instantly.
Smart Dashcams, as Andrew points out, also come equipped with built-in scorecard and coaching features to create long-term, fuel-efficient driving habits.
“The live dashboard displays fleet and individual driver metrics meaning you’ll have complete insight into your performance,” he says.
“You can see how you compare with your colleagues to foster healthy competition and encourage improvement. You’ll be alerted when there’s a significant change in metrics, either positive or negative. The system provides tips and feedback to help you set measurable goals and improve your driving habits and fuel efficiency over time.“
Long-term thinking is also a key part of improving fuel efficiencies.
Weathering the soaring cost of fuel requires more than just a band-aid approach according to Andrew.
“Instead, you should focus on identifying and tackling the root causes of fuel inefficiencies and adopting integrated fleet management solutions to create a solid foundation for long-term growth,” he explains. “Fuel costs may continue to rise, but with smart systems in place, you’ll give your business the best chance at a successful, fuel-efficient future.”