Field Service Managers – Position Your Fleet to Beat Skyrocketing Gas Prices

Published in GPS Insights

Over the last year of the pandemic, organizations with a fleet of vehicles were already dealing with high fuel prices and other cost increases. Supply chain issues, the sudden surge in consumer demand, and more Americans returning to their commute—or just taking more road trips—have led to steadily rising gas prices. But the sudden and extreme surge in fuel costs since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a severe shock to the system, greatly impacting the bottom line for all fleets.

Fleets have been forced to adjust to major price hikes every week. In some areas, diesel costs have nearly doubled, and overall gas prices have already spiked just 19% this month. What’s more, the current administration believes high prices will continue for months.

Fuel costs have long been one of the top two expenses for fleets, but the recent surges are causing fleet companies to hemorrhage cash, forcing many to raise prices, and risk lost business from equally cash-conscious clients. Higher fuel costs are particularly painful because they hit businesses on both sides of the ledger, raising operations and material costs, but also leaving consumers with less to spend. Increases also force workers to pay more on personal fuel, groceries, and other necessities and raise fears of layoffs…straining budgets and fraying nerves.

As fleets seek to weather the current storm, the good news is there are several steps that managers can take to lower fuel usage, save money, and improve operational efficiencies to take a bite out of soaring gas prices.

Telematic Tracking Tools

The first step to lowering fuel costs is to know exactly how much fuel your fleet burns. With GPS tracking and telematics, you can take meaningful steps to gauge your current fuel use and formulate an action plan to reduce it. For instance, GPS tracking can have an immediate impact by pinpointing how much fuel is lost idling. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an idling truck wastes .8 gallons of fuel every hour.

For instance, one business established idle time benchmarks, some of its vehicles were turned on all day, every day without ever being shut off. Idle time across the fleet in one month alone added up to 22,660 minutes, which translates to almost 400 hours, and approximately 200 gallons of fuel!

They weren’t just burning fuel; they were lighting money on fire through wasted gas and greater vehicle wear and tear. There are numerous tools that notifies the driver in real-time to shut off the vehicle and can help with the management of these idle events. Within 3 months, idle time decreased by 30%.

Optimize Routes, Dispatching, & Scheduling

Effective route planning is one of the best ways for fleets to keep drivers on track and generate fuel savings. A routing feature (part of most GPS tracking solutions) allows service teams to create pre-defined stop routes for fleets that are optimized for highway, speed, and distance preferences. Routing features are typically most useful for organizations with pre-determined or static routes, such as delivery and service fleets. By setting your routes, you can ensure drivers aren’t taking the long way to their destinations, reserving fuel.

Optimizing dispatching and scheduling for your organization can help increase first-time fix rates and reduce the need for repeat service visits, which ultimately means techs also spend less time driving from job to job. By utilizing a leading dispatch software, dispatchers or service managers can assign work to the right number of drivers, and ensure the right technicians are tasked to the right job at the right time, smoothly and seamlessly.

Better and more accurate scheduling and route optimization solutions allow managers to increase efficiency and significantly reduce fuel costs across their entire fleet, increasing profits.

Reduce Speeding & Accidents

Driver behavior can have a major impact on your fleet’s fuel bill. If one of your drivers has a lead foot, they are burning cash with every tick of the speedometer above the speed limit. In fact, reports show that every five miles per hour over 30 MPH burns an additional $0.20 per gallon of gas.

Adding smart dash cameras into your fleet can help reduce speeding violations, avoid hard braking, increase safety, and limit accidents. This technology automatically detects and alerts drivers when they are speeding, engaging hard acceleration of braking, and other inefficient driving techniques, while Artificial Intelligence recognizes safe and unsafe driving behaviors without human intervention or review.

On another note, speeding leads to more severe accidents than those that occur at lower speeds. These accidents can result in large payout and fines and damage your reputation…enough to lose business. Smart dash cameras are a simple solution that can improve driver performance and safety.

Keep Vehicles Well Maintained

One of the most straightforward ways for fleets to save fuel is to keep vehicles properly maintained and running at peak efficiency. Older or malfunctioning parts can reduce performance and fuel economy. With a GPS tracking solution, fleet managers can track each vehicle’s last oil change, smog check, brake inspection, transmission flush, and more…letting them know exactly which vehicle needs attention and when.

TIRES!

Tires are one of the biggest costs fleets must bear, and rising oil prices are driving up those costs. But tires are a critical part of a healthy fleet operation. How important are good tires to any fleet? Look no further than Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine. Some experts believe Russia’s reliance on cheap tires has played a critical role in the setbacks of their military operation.

Though you may not have a fleet of military trucks, your vehicles’ tires are no less important in meeting objectives and play a big role in reducing overall costs.

Fleet managers can use telematics and tracking software to ensure proper tire maintenance to lower cents-per-mile and save fleets thousands of dollars every month. Some handy and easily implemented tire maintenance tips include:

  • Check tire pressures, monitor when pressure loss is much different than other tires on the same axles, and repair accordingly
  • Monitor tired tread depth and note abnormal wear
  • Maintain regular rotation and balance schedules
  • Check alignment every 80,000 to 100,000 miles or every 12 to 18 months.

Start Taking Steps to Save Money on Fuel

Fuel prices are currently skyrocketing, and little relief is expected in 2022 and beyond. Thankfully, there are steps you can take right now to ensure significant savings for your fleet.

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About TimeLinx
TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.

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