It Isn’t All About Devices

Operational practices are important too

Much of the work we do at Trucking Efficiency centers on technologies that can be added to trucks and trailers to make them more fuel efficient. But I was reminded by Navistar’s Troy Clarke that fleets can look at things other than technology to make themselves more efficient.

Speaking at FTR Transportation Conference Clarke said that asset utilization numbers for most fleets are not very high. In fact, he indicated that trucks are only being operated 50% of the time they could be. He also talked about the gains from achieving higher utilization such as the need for fewer drivers, fewer trucks, and less maintenance.

His remarks got me thinking of how we could improve the efficiency of fleets by concentrating on some operational practices. A good place to start is with route optimization. Are drivers getting from point A to point B via the most efficient route? Are you taking into account time of day and its corresponding traffic when determining which route a driver should follow? A little bit of time and an investment in some software will help ensure your trucks follow the best route possible. Hand-in-hand with route optimization is reducing the number of miles driven empty. You can use freight matching services to help you find freight for backhauls that otherwise would have been empty.

Other things to consider are the use of team drivers and slip seating drivers. And of course operating doubles and triples is another good way to improve efficiency.

Despite all the technological changes on trucks, drivers still play a role in just how efficient you are. Spend some time with new drivers to make sure they understand how what they do impacts the truck’s fuel economy and consider refresher courses for more seasoned drivers on best driving practices to save fuel. These don’t necessarily have to be classroom sessions but can be offered online. You can even use text messages to occasionally send fuel efficiency tips to your drivers.

While I encourage you to keep investing in technology and devices that will increase the number of miles you get from a gallon of fuel, I also hope you will consider making some modifications in the way you operate that will also lead to small savings.

I would love to hear from you about what changes you’ve made in your operation that have resulted in fuel economy gains be they big or small.


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