98475295 | Welcomia | Dreamstime.com
MPG

Roeth: The only way to improve is to know where you are

Feb. 14, 2024
Monitoring your fleet's mpg is essential to ensuring it runs efficiently.

The thing about improving something is that you continually need to measure how you are doing in order to see if you are getting better. And the reality is that you probably are going to have to at least tweak something to see an improvement. Doing the same thing over and over again rarely leads to improvement.

How often do you monitor and measure the mpg or ton-miles per gallon of the trucks in your fleet? Once a year? Twice? Monthly? Weekly? Is someone on your staff looking at exception reports on a regular basis to determine which of your trucks are falling outside your average mpg target?

If you’re not, you should be. Doing so allows you to then look at the underperforming truck(s) to determine what’s wrong. A missed preventive maintenance service may have contributed to the decline in fuel economy, or it may be due to a change in duty cycle. Perhaps, it's simply an aging asset that has become less efficient and needs to be replaced.

The thing is, without monitoring performance, you won't know what is going on, and it is likely that the mpg will continue to deteriorate.

See also: Fontana: Proper spec’ing and maintenance are a winning combination

Armed with information on vehicle mpg, you can then focus on making improvements. And that is where the experience of other fleets can be leveraged. It helps to have a benchmark when looking at your fleet’s performance. It will come as no surprise that I am going to recommend you turn to our Fleet Fuel Study (FFS) as a starting place, but there are other tools available.

The fleets in the most recent FFS, which covered 2021, had an average fuel economy of 7.23 mpg, while the national average was 6.24 mpg. However, Run on Less 2017 and Run on Less Regional demonstrated that fleets can achieve even higher fuel economy.

If you are not sure where to start your mpg improvement journey, I suggest you read the FFS to review the technologies that are being adopted by the fleets that participated in the study. You can also see which technologies they are no longer using because they were not able to prove them in the real world.

Don't forget to check out the benchmarking tool that accompanies the report. This online tool allows fleets to enter information about the efficiency technologies in which they are interested—we’ve identified 86 technologies and practices that improve fuel economy. Fleets that use the tool receive a customized interactive report that includes their responses prioritized by the technologies that have the greatest gap between the user and the average of the FFS fleets.

If you are interested in improving mpg, there are a few simple steps to take:

  • Collect and monitor fuel consumption by vehicle. Fleet mpg improves vehicle by vehicle. Tracking fuel consumption by vehicle also allows you to understand which duty cycles and applications are best for fuel efficiency, identify pieces of equipment that need to be maintained or replaced, and reward or train drivers that may be overperforming or underperforming.
  • Set long-term mpg improvement goals. Many fuel-saving technologies have a high return on investment, which will improve the profitability of a fleet.
  • Continuously track your progress. You have to know where you are to get better.
  • Commit to and budget for an ongoing plan of mpg improvement. Great mpg is a moving target, and improving it is something you need to invest in on a regular basis.

Diesel-powered vehicles are going to be around for quite some time and are part of the trucking industry’s decarbonization efforts. Do your part to get more miles from a gallon of diesel, which results in less CO2 emissions. And remember it all starts with knowing where you are.


Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

Sponsored Recommendations

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...

80% Fewer Towable Accidents - 10 Key Strategies

After installing grille guards on all of their Class 8 trucks, a major Midwest fleet reported they had reduced their number of towable accidents by 80% post installation – including...

Proactive Fleet Safety: A Guide to Improved Efficiency and Profitability

Each year, carriers lose around 32.6 billion vehicle hours as a result of weather-related congestion. Discover how to shift from reactive to proactive, improve efficiency, and...

Tackling the Tech Shortage: Lessons in Recruiting Talent and Reducing Turnover

Discover innovative strategies for recruiting and retaining tech talent in the trucking industry during this informative webinar, where experts will share insights on competitive...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!