Optimising Your Fleet for Fuel Efficiency

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With fuel prices unstable, and more often than not going up rather than down, its important to make sure that your fleet is running as efficiently as possible.

Whether this means employing a programme of freight exchange to ensure that your trucks make as few unpaid journeys as possible or running regular maintenance checks to make sure they are running at their most efficient, its important to keep on top of fuel consumption.

How to Promote Efficiency

A well-maintained vehicle can actually improve fuel mileage by as much as double, so the first place to start if you want to make efficiency savings is truck maintenance. The key here is to understand that everything from a tyre not at optimum pressure to an old oil filter can have a dramatic affect on petrol or diesel consumption.

Truck Maintenance

There are a few precautions that you can carry out in the depot, or encourage drivers to make on the road, which will ensure that vehicles run at their fuel-efficient best.

Check tyre pressure and tread
Low tyre pressure creates greater resistance and increases petrol or diesel consumption some figures put it at as much as 1% decrease in fuel economy for every unit below the ideal pressure.
Regular oil changes
Increasing lubrication makes the engine run more smoothly which in turn reduces the amount of petrol or diesel used. Always check your oil filter when changing the oil as blocked filters could increase fuel costs by as much as 10%.
Check spark plugs
Discolouration of your spark plugs could be a warning sign that the vehicle is burning too much fuel.

Repair and Upgrade

Maintenance is key but so is making sure that your trucks are using all the most up to date engineering. Consider upgrades which will improve efficiency such as: installing air springs, an air intake system, a tailgate cover and a performance exhaust.

Another factor to consider is the removal of heavy accessories which may reduce the trucks aerodynamics and add unnecessary weight. Things to look out for include bull bars and headache racks.

Driver Habits

Its worth making your drivers aware that the way they drive is the single thing that will most affect the efficiency of their vehicle the most. Ask them to bear in mind:

Reducing idling time
Keeping an eye on their speed
Reducing hard breaking
Improving clutch control
Avoiding excessive gear changes
Accelerating smoothly
Avoiding use of the air conditioning system

Freight Exchange

Its all very well having trucks in optimum condition and running as efficiently as possible but if they are doing journeys without a pay load then they are wasting petrol or diesel. Consider joining a freight exchange so that you can make sure that you have a full load for every journey.

With prices and taxes continuing to rise, its worth doing what you can to ensure your fleet can do its job safely and quickly, while also working in the most cost-effective manner.

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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