06/07/2012

By Jakes de Kock, Fuelcard Company’s Marketing Director

Spiralling pump prices and an uncertain economy mean saving fuel and monitoring fuel usage is now more important than ever. The Fuelcard Company’s Marketing Director Jakes de Kock, offers his advice on just a few ways you can drive down costs:

Monitor to Minimise

It’s difficult to implement strategies for saving fuel unless you know how much fuel you are using and this is where the benefits of a fuel card really come into their own. Most fuel card providers offer real-time reporting which shows exactly how much fuel is being consumed and who is consuming it. MPG reporting is also often available allowing you to record and analyse mileage patterns.

An overview of all these figures will help find areas where savings can be made in order to devise an appropriate plan of action. Look in-depth at how your drivers are getting from A to B, perhaps they could use an alternative route via better conditioned roads to reduce fuel consumption or maybe several journeys to similar areas could be combined into fewer trips. These may sound like obvious suggestions, but can be easy to overlook without careful monitoring.

Incentivise

Although research has shown the majority (two-thirds) of company car drivers are limiting their mileage and driving slower to reduce fuel consumption, providing incentives for best practice is a great way to reward this behaviour.

Play on drivers’ natural competitive side by introducing league tables categorised by fuel usage with a prize for those who drive most efficiently each month. Not only is this almost guaranteed to reduce fuel consumption, it will also make each driver aware of their exact fuel usage and the subsequent importance of making savings wherever possible.

Maintain, Maintain, Maintain

It’s important to bear in mind areas of inefficiency are not necessarily caused by poor driving or fleet management. In the first instance make sure the vehicle is thoroughly checked for any running issues which may be causing excess fuel consumption.

Underinflated tyres can be responsible for as much as 10 percent extra fuel usage and also wear out much faster, so encourage your drivers to check pressures at least once a month. This is also a good way to keep an eye on tyre condition ensuring any potential problems are identified and fixed before they cause further damage.

Invest in Driver Training

If you asked all of your company car drivers whether they know how to drive efficiently, I can be fairly certain they will all answer ‘yes’, but, as my teachers always used to say, ‘You never stop learning!’. Research has shown investing in driver training can achieve up to 20 percent improved fuel consumption, lower CO2 emissions and an improved safety record.

There are many training providers who offer courses tailored to your specific driver needs, and these can be carried out in-house or off-site. As well as the obvious benefits, a training course can also be a good opportunity for drivers to spend time together and share examples of best practice. Why not combine training with a team away-day or social event? It’s a well known fact that commercial drivers are one of the most at-risk groups for developing depression, with an estimated 30-40 percent suspected to be experiencing some degree of the condition. Any activity which helps boost morale and inspires a sense of community will be well-received.

Plan to Save

When you consider fuel costs account for up to 30 percent of a fleet’s total operating cost, it’s easy to see how any improvements and changes have the potential to make a big difference to both fuel consumption and more importantly your bottom line.

With possible savings of thousands of litres, no fuel management strategy is too small and in the words of a well-known supermarket ‘Every little helps!’

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