While today’s fleets have access to an array of fuel measurement solutions—notably via real-time asset tracking technologies—the value of training drivers to practice best driving behaviors and lower fuel expenses has not diminished.
But the technology component does help fleet managers get the job done in ways like never before. Case in point, Theodore, AL-based Accelerated Freight -which operates 70 tractors in long-haul, dedicated and intermodal services—said advanced tracking technology has helped the company interact with drivers on fuel inefficiency issues like never before.
For AF, the results are dramatic: It has improved fuel economy by 0.5 mpg (9%), which translates into a savings of at least $230,000 over the past six months, thanks to GeoLogic’s ADV Monitor, an option on the MobileMax Multi-Mode communications and tracking system.
Brett Vitrano, AF operations research analyst, is in charge of tracking the carrier’s performance indicators but has dedicated the majority of his time to fuel.
“I look at the whole operation and compute the numbers and see what improvements can be done,” Vitrano said. “A big aspect of my job is addressing fuel and idle time because it’s the biggest component that can save our company money.”
“Every week I give each driver an individual customized message based on that idle time,” Vitrano continued. “I give them messages like ‘hey great job, you exceeded the company’s threshold.’ For drivers way off the mark, we have phone conversations with them to discuss proven ways to reduce idle time and improve miles per gallon. We’re very involved with rewarding drivers and giving them information. We later saw a sharp decrease in idle time and an increase in miles per gallon.”
The feedback from drivers over the tracking system and AF’s policies around it has been generally positive, said Vitrano. “We can monitor [drivers] 24/7, but we’re doing this to better form decisions in our company that can save us money and give [drivers] more in [their] paycheck. Right now we do have an incentive program in place, but it’s not active. It’s based on how many miles they drive, miles per gallon, idle time (which is the #1 component), and on-time delivery.”
Green Bay, WI-based truckload giant Schneider National has used a Qualcomm JTRACS SensorTRACS solution to monitor driver rpm, speed and idling stats on a weekly to monthly basis.
Although Schneider already has an incentive program in place for drivers who exceed the company’s expectations, the carrier has not stopped there to curb fuel costs. Recently it launched an awareness campaign that essentially encourages each driver to save a gallon of fuel per day.
“The truck is set up to be fuel efficient, but the driver is also a big component of that,” said Steve Duley, Schneider vp-purchasing. “When you talk about a saving a gallon a day they respond. Saving a gallon isn’t hard. It’s a matter of dropping the speed and using cruise control.”
In terms of real-time technology that presents fuel savings, the latest that Schneider has deployed is Qualcomm’s TrailerTRACS system. He considers fuel savings a positive “byproduct” that complements its main advantage as a time-saving, asset tracking tool.
“The driver will spend less wasted miles looking for trailers,” Duley explained. “If you use it effectively it takes waste out of the system and saves fuel. We equipped the entire fleet and are trying to tie that into the rail fleet. If you look at fuel efficiency as a big picture, we are saving.”