The Telematics Blog
Fuel Savings: The Big Return from Telematics
Are you a fleet owner looking to develop a "greener" fleet? Perhaps you are simply seeking ways to boost the bottom line, and you feel that your fleet could be doing better in terms of fuel efficiency? No matter why you want to see better fuel economy throughout your fleet of vehicles, you have one readily available tool for meeting your goals - fleet telematics.
Fleet telematics is a somewhat complex combination of technologies that you can put to use in order to achieve a long list of goals - in addition to fuel savings. For instance, some firms use fleet telematics to simply track driver behaviours or to ensure optimal customer service. Some use it to manage fleet maintenance more effectively, but most use the software and gear for a multitude of reasons, and most place a major emphasis on improving the bottom line.
How does fleet telematics actually work? A simple explanation of fleet telematics would look like this: All of the vehicles in your fleet are equipped with devices that can monitor a range of factors and transmit that data back to a main computer or app. Using GPS, the device could show you a vehicle's location, the places or routes it has taken in a set period of time, the rates of speed and braking, any fault codes or warnings, and much more.
It can also track the fuel efficiency of the vehicle, and when compared with other data, you can easily identify when any particular vehicle, or driver, is attaining less desirable fuel efficiency. As one fleet telematics user explained:
"Ranking fuel efficiency as the top goal in using telematics is definitely smart — fleets proactively monitoring idling and using telematics to improve routing cite immediate fuel reductions. Whether you’re a large corporation or a small business, the savings can be significant."
Some end users insist it is due to driver awareness of tracking, and others say it is the data and insight it gives that allows for policy changes that bring savings. Either way, it is proven that fleet telematics tends to always bring increases in fuel efficiency and lower fuel costs.
Naturally, this leads to the "how" of reducing fuel consumption through fleet telematics.
How Is It Done?
Just how might fleet telematics enable a firm to reduce fuel consumption? There are many ways that fuel loss can be determined and even tracked. For instance, if a shipping firm has trucks that spend great deals of time idling, that easily wastes a full gallon for each hour spent idling. This is why a workable and actionable system will monitor:
• Vehicle speeds
• Idle times
• Fuel usage
In gauging these basic patterns, fleet telematics can start to uncover driving habits and vehicle statistics that burn up fuel.
The Speed Limits
For example, in the U.S. the Environmental Protection Agency has determined that vehicles that travel at five miles over posted speed limits waste around twenty cents more per gallon of gas than drivers obeying the limits. Using fleet telematics, you can easily track if a truck or vehicle is habitually breaking the speed limits along their route, and gauge the amount of fuel this wastes. Even two to four vehicles doing this each year can add up to substantial fuel wastage.
The Idle Waste
Then there is the matter of idling. Yet, it is idling times, the experts are unclear about. They are unsure as to the precise amounts wasted, but are certain that it is a substantial level. Consider this statement:
"According to Ford Motor Company, every hour of idle time is equal to approximately 25 miles of driving. Contrary to popular belief, the EPA states that restarting an engine uses no more fuel than 30 seconds of idling and has very little harmful impact on vehicle components. When drivers use their vehicles as climate control, it costs businesses money."
Routing Around Fuel Waste
The way that routing is done or chosen also can impact fuel usage, and telematics has a steady hand on this area too. After all, how does typical dispatching work? A dispatcher or fleet manager will contact the driver, request their current location and attempt to keep most drivers within a reasonable area, not demanding wide diversions outside of the route they are following. This is challenging and difficult to maintain, and is also a huge waste of fuel. With fleet telematics, a dispatcher can use the software to see where all of the vehicles are in real-time, and can far more effectively manage their routing.
How does this save fuel? It allows a driver to maintain the most direct routes to pickups or deliveries and job sites, and also may help dispatchers route drivers around traffic problems that could result in wasted time and fuel. The use of fleet telematics also shows drivers closest to the areas needed (whether a pickup, job site or delivery), and this too optimises fuel efficiency.
One of the most surprising revelations to fleet managers or owners implementing telematics is the fact that many drivers take their own routes, many of them rather "scenic" and out of the way. This may be to circumvent traffic or heavily congested areas, but it is often a huge waste of fuel. The use of telematics means optimised routing and dispatch, i.e. lower fuel costs and higher fuel efficiency.
The Issue of Maintenance
Naturally, a vehicle that is in top condition is going to enjoy optimal fuel efficiency, and one impressive feature of fleet telematics is that it streamlines vehicle maintenance and provides a long list of remarkable benefits in this area. For example, UPS is often cited for its amazing vehicle maintenance outcomes when it began using telematics. The firm has more than 100,000 vehicles and drives more than three billion miles per year. Naturally, they have high maintenance and upkeep costs. However, when they used telematics to begin better managing maintenance, they reduced inspections from 240k annually to 120K, and they saw their most commonly used line of vehicles receive a 50% boost in fuel efficiency.
Fleet telematics software can be set to alert a fleet manager based on their specific needs. Rather than a mileage alert, the company might find it better to service the fleet when an engine has been on for a specific time period, when mileage hallmarks are reached, or even on basic calendar dates. Not only will this kind of regulated maintenance increase fuel efficiency, but cut costs in repairs. Wasted parts or components are reduced as much as unexpected breakdowns or service issues, and lower maintenance costs often coincide with improved fuel efficiency.
Fuel Cards and Usage
Tracking how much fuel a driver or vehicle uses reveals a lot of important data. Fleet managers often ask their drivers to keep track of fuel purchases or they use sheets to monitor the amounts of fuel any particular vehicle receives and uses. The data alone is not enough to reveal any problems, but analysis of fuel cards or vehicle and driver data often indicates that mileage is less than it should be or that a vehicle is using too much fuel in general. This may be due to poor driving habits, maintenance issues, or even fuel theft. Heavy periods of idling can also be a cause for a problem revealed by fuel card analysis, and unauthorised usage of a vehicle can often be determined by an analysis of fleet telematics too.
The Importance of Analysis
The word analysis was just used several times, and this has to be considered. While it is possible to manually track things like the mileage of a vehicle, the amount of time a driver used the car, and even make some guesses at the routes, it is only through the precise data obtained in fleet telematics that allows for thorough analysis.
This is where Telematics Pro UK Ltd is able to provide a comprehensive solution that enables customised analysis necessary for reaching any fleet goals. Whether it is to become that greener fleet using far less fuel and cutting down on emissions or to optimise delivery times through the most efficient routing and dispatching, we can work with you to develop the ideal analysis and plans.
Many firms with fleet vehicles have been using something akin to telematics for a while, and yet their failure to properly assess the data or create solutions from that data has prevented it from having any ROI or return on the investment. Fortunately, Telematics Pro UK Ltd can meet with you to discuss your precise goals and work with our partners to implement effective fuel programs. We emphasise the rewards rather than punishment approach, and will help you to recognise if fuel consumption costs are related directly to driver behaviours. When it is driver-related, we have a variety of training options available. You can choose to use online training to address specific issues, in-person courses, and even in-vehicle systems that provide immediate feedback capable of helping drivers self-train to overcome wasteful or fuel-heavy patterns.
At Telematics Pro UK Ltd., we offer you an end to end fleet telematics solution. Providing the resources firms of all sizes need in order to make fleet fuel efficiency far more cost-effective. With our custom solutions, we can help you track and identify relevant performance data, analyse areas of weakness or underperformance, and use the information to keep the entire fleet operating at maximum fuel efficiency. With driver learning and training systems, we guarantee your outcomes will meet performance and earnings goals. If you are ready to discuss your needs for fleet telematics, or simply to learn more about our offerings, get in touch today.