November 2011, Business Fleet - Feature
Creative Fuel-Saving Strategies
Learn how four fleets use driver input — and driver accountability — along with rightsizing, route optimization and new technology to achieve fuel savings of 10-20 percent.
These Transformer-like vehicles are part of the RedPeg fleet, which also includes Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans and box trucks. Each vehicle carries a telematics system from its fleet management provider, PHH. The telematics allow the company to control idle time and oversee vehicle location.
Rightsizing vehicles, improving route management, driver behavior training — which is the best and most worthwhile strategy when trying to save on fuel? They all are, if you can refine the solution to your fleet’s specific needs.
From all-employee email notifications on speeding and “idle tip jars,” to a device that changes engine calibrations, these four companies, through trial and error, have found their “sweet spots” for saving fuel.
Managing Driver Behavior and Truckloads
RedPeg Marketing, an “experiential marketing company” with 31 fleet vehicles, has decreased its fuel spend by about 20 percent in less than three years, according to Martin Codd, RedPeg’s vice president of production. “Our primary concern is idle time,” Codd says, adding that this is why RedPeg decided on installing a telematics system through PHH, its fleet management provider.
By tracking its vehicles, the mobile marketing company can evaluate how much time drivers spend idling and how they start and stop the vehicles. And using telematics to ensure drivers are following planned routes — especially for a company that builds custom, Transformer-like vehicles for marketing campaigns — is an important aspect to keeping the company’s assets safe. One employee took a vehicle off-route while on tour, and “when we found out, his employment with our company came to a very quick end,” Codd says.
RedPeg also uses a web-based software called Flex, which can be found at www.flexrentalsolutions.com. Flex delivers a complete inventory analysis of the company’s equipment to achieve a near-perfect pack load for each truck.
“You’re creating greater efficacy in how you’re transporting your equipment, so you’re determining your pack load and then you’re choosing the right vehicle to transport it,” Codd says, adding that his drivers usually have less than 10 percent of space left on any given vehicle.
RedPeg also checks tire pressures and performs other pre-trip inspections before leaving for a campaign, which Codd says can add up to significant fuel savings over the course of a year. In helping to offset stationary fuel costs, RedPeg integrated solar panels onto the vehicles to use as an energy source once onsite.
The company has a fuel card system through PHH, which gives them “lower-than-commercial rates,” on diesel fuel, according to Codd.
RedPeg also addresses bad fuel-economy driving behaviors through annual training sessions, and the company is even considering holding a mid-year training. “Over time, we’ve become aware of the importance of training and having a relationship with your drivers,” Codd says. “We’ve invested an enormous amount in our managers and field drivers. The importance of forging a very concrete and dynamic relationship can’t be underestimated.”