5 Ways to Save Big on Fuel

According to a recent survey by the American Transportation Research Institute fuel costs represent 20 to 40 percent of fleet expenses. Carriers that can shave even a cent or two per mile can realize substantial savings.

Recently we did a blog on apps that can help you save money at the pump. But, what about equipment?  Can smart spec’ing and utilizing ELDs help too?  You bet…take a read.

ELD Feedback

Like it or not, ELDs are a fact of life now. Since that’s the case, use them to their full capability – many drivers and fleet operators are seeing additional benefits of the engine-connected telematics solution to improve fuel economy. Geotab, a pioneer in smart transportation and telematics technology, reports that using ELDs can improve fuel efficiency significantly and they went out to prove it in some real world testing.  Their crew saw fuel economy jump up to 10 miles or more per gallon. Pretty impressive. Take a look at their study to see how they did it.

In a nutshell, in addition to hours of service, ELD systems can track driving parameters, such as idling time, rapid acceleration and hard braking. With the info, managers can provide measurable feedback to improve driver performance and potential fuel savings opportunities. Another way to assess driver characteristics is with DriverMetrics, an independent on-line driver evaluation program.

Auto Leveling

Fact: According to the American Trucking Association Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC), the most skilled drivers can gain up to 35 percent in better mpg’s over heavy-footed, less-skilled operators. Spec’ing automated transmissions that provide error-free, guess-proof shifting can level that playing field.

Even more gains can come from complete powertrain designed with integration in mind — some truck OEMs offer the complete package. Kenworth and Peterbilt for example, offer the PACCAR MX engine, PACCAR transmission and PACCAR axle. The electronic clutch actuator and control logic in its automated transmissions allows for intelligent shifting and maximizes time spent within the RRM range known as the engine’s sweet spot. Translation – maximum fuel economy.

And, by incorporating predictive features such as cruise control, shifting and neutral coast, the PACCAR proprietary powertrain is said to improve fuel economy by 1.5 percent when compared to a powertrain without these features. That may not sound like a lot, but is adds up mile after mile.

Improved Aerodynamics

Retrofitting heavy-duty commercial vehicles with drag-reducing devices can result in high fuel-savings — potentially up to nearly 9 percent of the fuel cost of a vehicle doing annual mileage of 80,000 miles. Results show that the performance of these aerodynamic devices depends on their functions and how the vehicles are operated. Vehicles on long-haul routes generally save twice as much fuel as those in urban areas.

Michelin’s new Energy Guard aerodynamic system for tractor-trailers is one of the latest aerodynamic innovations. According to testing carried out by Michelin, Energy Guard can deliver 7.4 percent fuel savings at 65 mph compared to tractor-trailers with no aerodynamic system. This works out to savings of $3,000 and 1,000 gallons of fuel per truck, per 100,000 miles run.

Energy Guard consists of a trailer skirt, trailer-end fairings, aerodynamic mud flaps and a patent-pending wake reducer, which Michelin says eliminates the need for “boat tail” fairings or combining aerodynamic products from different suppliers.

The wake reducer is much smaller in size than “boat tail” fairings commonly in use, but still minimizes the effect of the air recirculation zone that creates drag behind a trailer. Even better, once installed, it does its job automatically without any driver actions.

Tread Lightly

It’s common knowledge that proper tire inflation leads to better fuel economy. Selecting low rolling resistance tires that carry the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay certification can also help you get more miles between fill-ups. Here’s how the experts at Tire Review magazine do the math: A fleet of 100 tractor/trailers that each travel 100,000 miles per year, averaging 6 mpg on standard tires, switches to LRR tires that net a 2% improvement to 6.2 mpg. At 6 mpg, one tractor/trailer consumes 16,667 gallons annually when driving 100,000 miles. At 6.2 mpg, the same rig with LRR tires consumes 328 fewer gallons.

Replacing duals with wide base single tires can be another smart move. A study by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in cooperation with Michelin North America Inc. revealed that “super singles” deliver 6 percent overall better fuel efficiency and up to a 10 percent improvement with fully loaded tractor-trailers.

Pass on the Savings

If you’re a Drivewyze user, then you already know that weigh station bypass saves time. It also saves fuel. Slowing down to enter and exit a weigh station — and then idling while waiting — burns into fuel budgets.

The ability to avoid unplanned delays at weigh stations and inspection sites can really improve your bottom line. Based on a study of more than 94 million truck visits to weigh stations, Drivewyze calculates that each bypass generates an average savings of $9.31 in operating costs.

Unsure how much time and money your fleet is spending at weigh stations? Drivewyze PreClear offers a free, no-risk Weigh Station Activity Report that will show you the real, hidden costs you’re incurring from unplanned delays. It will tabulate the amount of time it takes for the truck to be processed by inspection officers and other metrics to demonstrate how weigh station delays impact your cost-per-mile — fuel consumption playing a big part of that price.