What is the simplest way to lower fleet operational cost?

Every fleet owner, no matter the size and type of vehicles, straggle to find ways to lower its operational cost.

When 70-75% of fleet management expenses goes on fuel, even 10% deduction in fuel consumption is a lot of money to save.

So how can fleet owner save in fuel consumption?

There are couple of things to do, like keeping the fleet vehicles in good shape, treat them in time, have their tires air pressure checked at least once a week and keep it in the exact pressure as the manufacturer recommended etc.

But the most important issue to address is the driver’s driving competence.

Most fleet management systems today offer tracking abilities of the fleet vehicles and in addition driving behavior and fuel management solutions, based on special additional modules to the tracking device.
This kind of solution offers real-time tool for the fleet manager to control and know his driver’s ability to perform and, at the end of the day, to lower operational cost.

The driving behavior module usually comes with a 3 axis accelerometer that if installed right, will sense all the forces acting on the vehicle and transmit driving behavior alerts to the management system.
Right installation means a unit, small enough, to be installed in a central position in the vehicle (like under the hand brake in private vehicles), attached to the vehicle chassis. Only this way, a more accurate reading is possible.

Usually these driving behavior solutions comes with an in car visual driver education unit, like a buzzer or/and LED to educate him when he made an abnormal driving event.

Drivers that know when a “big brother” is checking them all the time, will drive safer and more economical.

A system that offers a personal driver certificate, with each driver’s grades in terms of driving habits and a serious approach from the manager, sitting with each driver at least once a month with this certificate, discussing his improvements or dis-improvements, is a proven to be huge success in fuel consumption and up to 30% (!) overall fleet operational cost reduction.

For this process to be useful, fuel consumption and fuel level in the tank at all times is essential to be visible to the fleet management system.

There are couple of solutions on the market to read fuel level from within the fuel tank.

In my last article “who stole my fuel” I reviewed some of the offerings on the market today. Another option that is available today is using OBDII plugged unit. Using this solution the system can offer different diagnostic parameters to be read from the vehicle’s ECU’s (Engine Control Unit) like engine temperature, oil pressure, gear change and more. One of the parameters is the fuel level, but the reading is possible only when the vehicle is turned on.

For advanced diagnostic, usually the OBD reading solution is best, but in our case, only for fuel consumption abilities, we need simple way to do that. For a cost effective fuel level reading its better to use a separated fuel adapter, connected directly to the fuel pump/sensor, enables reading the fuel directly from the fuel tank.

This way there is no complications and the fuel reading is simple and accurate.
Using a pull-up mechanism, the fuel adapter can also offer a fuel theft alarm system and a refueling alert when the vehicle is turned on or off – this can’t be done using the OBD option…

So I would suggest taking this fuel monitoring solution one step forward, and with no additional cost, to have an alarm system for fuel.

In conclusion, a fleet management system, having a driving behavior module, positioned in the center of the vehicle, a fuel adapter, reading fuel level at all times, and a close management of the driver’s performance, will surely be a perfect tool for fleet managers/owners to control their fleet’s operational cost and in result – save money.