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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

PUTTING A CAP ON FUEL THROUGH TECHNOLOGY…….By Dara Nagra


Fuel prices are skyrocketing at this time. Every truck owners is looking for as many ways as possible to get better fuel mileage. Some simple ways to try to get more miles out of a full tank are avoiding unnecessary idling, eliminating quick accelerations, and making sure tire pressure is correct. Truckers and industry officials say slowing a tractor-trailer rig from 75 mph to 65 mph increases fuel mileage by more than a mile a gallon, a significant bump for machines that get less than 10 miles per gallon hauling thousands of pounds of freight. Even sitting still with the engine idling, a rig gulps about a gallon of diesel every hour. There are some other strategies to save fuel, those include:

1)    Keeping the tires properly inflated – Each 10  psi of under inflation can increase fuel consumption by 1 – 1.5%

2)    Low-Viscosity lubricants – These can improve fuel economy about 2%

3)    Adopting fuel-efficient driving and shifting techniques – This include progressive shifting and staying 200 – 300 RPM below the governor at cruise and high gears.

4)    Maintaining a narrow tractor-trailer gap

5)    Using tarps for flat beds and making them more aerodynamic.

These steps are good, but they are not enough to save enough to become more cost effective. This is where the need for technology comes in to optimize fuel planning. Not only does the technology help in cost savings, but also to discourage fuel theft. Fuel theft is another big problem that would warrant another article in itself.

A cost-effective technology is keeping an eye on a long-haul truck’s fuel gauge and notifying the driver when it is time to fill up, and where they can find the cheapest diesel fuel prices. The software programs available are not necessarily new, but they have gained popularity thanks to record fuel prices. The technology relies on electronic equipment embedded in modern truck engines.

Because of high fuel prices, trucking companies are more cognizant of making sure every dollar spent on diesel fuel will go a long way. Some also offer financial incentives to drivers who travel greater distances on less fuel. The fuel is the number two operating expense for trucking companies (number one being the cost of labor), and that trucks often average less than six miles per gallon of diesel fuel while traveling North America’s highways.

According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), the trucking industry in on track to spend $16.5 billion more on fuel in each year, as long as diesel fuel prices remain at current levels. Changing a trucker’s habits on the road isn’t an easy task. Because long-haul truckers often sleep in their vehicles and leave the engines on to run the air conditioner or heater, their idling times are high. Software programs can relay information to truckers on the best possible route a driver can follow to save on fuel. This technology tells each driver via electronic messaging not only where to stop, but exactly how much fuel to get at each location, factoring in negotiated discounts and taxes in each state. These software packages can also help in other areas such as:

  • planning multi-stop trips in the United States and Canada
  • generate optimized, efficient routes for drivers, saving up to 25% by trimming unnecessary out-of-route miles
  • generate state mileage reports for trips to help with fuel tax reporting
  • generate miles to help with billing, paying drivers, and ratings
  • generate a travel (route) plan and a full color map to show a truck’s route
  • save thousands of dollars on fuel
  • a list of all the truck stops along the trip route
  • the correct daily fuel price (retail and ex-tax) at the truck stops
  • location of the truck stops
  • distance off of route to get to the truck stops
  • average retail price per gallon along the route
  • average ex-tax (retail minus taxes) per gallon along the route
  • estimated savings per gallon
  • Total estimated trip fuel savings

Along with these benefits, this software incurs an additional cost in business expenses. A detailed ROI (return on investment) analysis needs to be conducted before buying the software. But, in relation to the increasing fuel prices, it has become a necessity for trucking companies to consider this as one of the technologies choice.