Fleet tracking technology can help curb excess fuel costs. Despite national gas prices bouncing up and down throughout the year, fuel is not a resource that any business should feel at peace with wasting. For example, gasoline prices went up an approximated $4 per tank over a six-week period in February and March 2014, according to industry analyst Trilby Lundberg. With prices as unreliable as this, fleet-driven business owners must make sure to optimize fuel resources.
Fleet management solutions can provide business owners and fleet managers the hard data they need to implement real cost-saving changes within their organization. Better fleet management can lead to increased productivity both on the road and in the office. For many businesses, it can simplify the way that field service technicians do their jobs, improving processes and customer service. Above all, it can give small business owners the necessary tools to run a stronger and smarter mobile workforce.
So how exactly can a technology like this help a small business cut fuel costs? Within a fleet-dependent company, trucks and other transport vehicles are often essential to providing goods and services to consumers. However, with proper fleet and driver management, fuel usage can be better managed and fuel waste reduced.
Optimizing Routing and Dispatching
A fleet management solution gives a fleet manager or dispatcher a passenger view of daily routes. Routing inefficiencies can be clearly and quickly identified and corrected, and dispatchers can help drivers refine their daily routes by guiding them toward the most efficient way to and from job sites. By improving routing practices, businesses can see fuel savings when fleet vehicles cut back on miles driven per day. Currently, only 12.6 percent of the 18.5 million service vehicles in North America are using a fleet management system, but according to FleetBeat, a data-driven industry benchmarking report, if these businesses experienced the same results as Fleetmatics’ optimized customers, it would save the country approximately 573 million gallons of fuel each year, totaling an estimated $2.2 billion in fuel savings.
Additionally, fleet management technology can be of great benefit in emergency situations. A dispatcher can check to see where the closest technician is, and deploy him or her to rapidly address the situation. Without any visibility into where vehicles are in the field, a dispatcher could be sending a driver out of his or her way to reach the location. This would result in extra miles driven and wasted resources—not to mention, a very dissatisfied customer.
Slashing Vehicle Idling
Many businesses do not initially think that their fleet has an engine idling problem. However, a fleet tracking solution can help business owners realize that excessive idling is more prevalent than they think. Idling adds up; minutes become hours and all of this time equals wasted money.
According to the FleetBeat report, average idle time throughout all 12 observed vertical industries decreased by nearly 12 percent after installing a fleet management system. By lowering idle times, a business can improve fuel efficiency, leading to less frequent fill-ups at the gas station.
Ensuring Driver Safety
Aside from idling, certain types of driving behavior can also contribute to lower fuel efficiency. Fuel efficiency drops when drivers speed above 50 MPH. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy finds that each 5 MPH driven over 50 MPH is equivalent to spending an additional $0.24 per gallon at the gas station. While this may not seem like much money at first glance, consider having multiple drivers within a fleet who regularly speed and multiply that by each time they are behind the wheel.
Many fleet tracking solutions offer to help identify aggressive drivers. Jackrabbit starts, sudden braking and harsh driving can all attribute to wasted fuel. Visibility into how vehicles are being driven can make all the difference at the end of the day. Not only can it help save money and maximize fuel efficiency, it can also help to cut back on accidents and high insurance premiums due to unsafe driving.
Fleet tracking technology can provide invaluable insights into a business’ fleet operations. Improving routing and fuel efficiency within a fleet not only can lead to savings, but also can help put a fleet in the best position to grow the business. According to the FleetBeat report, after implementing a fleet optimization program, businesses in the delivery/trucking industry were able to increase the number of stops per vehicle by 23 percent per month, while only increasing miles driven by 7 percent. Through fleet optimization, a fleet manager has access to the hard numbers needed to make cost-saving decisions that can help improve the bottom line.
Todd Ewing is the director of product marketing at Fleetmatics.
 “Report: U.S. Gas Prices Have Gone Up $4 Per Tank in The Last 6 Weeks,” TIME, http://time.com/35061/us-gas-prices-up-4-dollars-per-tank/, (March 23, 2014)