No matter what fuel-saving programmes you put in place, from vehicle maintenance and good driving to employing a freight exchange scheme to reduce unpaid journeys, diesel is still one of the most pressing costs on haulage companies.
While your haulage business might not be ready yet to avoid diesel expenses altogether and go for an e-truck, there are ways to minimise fuel costs by ensuring you buy your diesel wisely.
Buying in Bulk
The cheapest way of buying diesel is to buy it in bulk, but this presents several problems which would be hard for smaller operators to overcome. To buy in bulk you need:
A depot to securely store a tanker (to thieves, an unprotected tank is a tempting proposition)
A tank which meets Environment Agency standards
A substantial initial pay out (a full-load tank of diesel can cost more than Â£30,000)
Buying in bulk, however, can be a great option for a larger haulage company which has the money to invest. Although, even then, it would only suit a company whose trucks return to the depot on a regular enough basis to prevent refuelling too often on the road using a freight exchange scheme to ensure local return journeys could help with this.
Retail Fuel Cards
While filling up at retail petrol stations and collecting VAT receipts is an expensive option for haulage companies, it can be offset a little by having a retail card. The benefit is that all fuel expenses come in on one invoice, making administration easier, but you will be restricted to one oil company and they often charge for cards.
Bunker Fuel Cards
Bunker cards offer a far more economical option to owner-drivers and haulage companies as they pass on some of the benefits of bulk buying while also offering a network of refuelling options across the country.
Bunkering networks are able to tie their prices to bulk buying deals rather than retail prices. This means that there are definite savings to be made here, especially if your drivers take long journeys on freight exchange jobs rather than returning regularly to the depot.
There are more than 1,500 bunker outlets across the UK, run by companies including Keyfuels and UK Fuels. They will deposit their diesel at a range of sites including truck stops and standard petrol stations and drivers with valid bunker cards will be allowed to draw from them.
Smaller companies, those using less than 20,000 litres each month, should apply for an account with a bunker card dealer who will manage your use and purchase of fuel for you, rather than dealing with the bunker companies directly.
While you can never quite escape the expense of refuelling, using these diesel-buying schemes, ensuring your trucks are used for paid loads as much as possible by using freight exchange networks, and being fuel efficient can certainly lessen the impact of high prices.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their online freight exchange, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching loads and with available drivers. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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