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Thursday, 23. September 2021

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3 factors to consider to get your fleet costs under control

Guest article by Wolfgang Schmid, Sales Director D/A/CH, Webfleet Solutions

Minimising operating costs is one of the decisive criteria for commercial success in logistics for all companies that use trucks to transport goods. But not every transport logistician knows how to counter these cost factors in a sensible way. In a survey that we as Webfleet Solutions recently conducted, the fleet managers questioned stated that they are particularly dependent on supporting expertise and data when it comes to the question of reducing fuel costs.[1] But rising repair and maintenance costs can also have a negative impact on the operating result and profitability. The following factors should therefore always be kept in mind so that your transport logistics become more cost-efficient and remain successful.

Optimise fuel consumption and driving behaviour

Keeping fuel costs as low as possible is an elementary part of optimising fleet costs. But how can I, as a fleet manager, collect and monitor this data? Consumption and costs can certainly be collected manually, but the time required is immense. With fleet management software, on the other hand, fuel consumption can be viewed and analysed digitally and in real time, and relevant patterns can be recognised. But what (correct) conclusions can be drawn from the analysis?

From a physical point of view, the choice of the correct tyres – for the respective application – is one of the key factors. Reducing rolling resistance contributes significantly to optimised fuel consumption. According to studies, tyre rolling resistance is particularly important for commercial vehicles. It can account for 30 to 50 percent of fuel consumption – depending on the driver and the route topology.[2]

Therefore, rolling resistance-optimised tyres can be the basis for a sustainable reduction in fuel consumption. The prerequisite for this is that their air pressure is correct and, if possible, monitored automatically.

A change in driving behaviour also has a direct effect on the level of fuel consumption. In order to implement these changes in practice, targeted driver training is required in which the effects of uneconomical actions such as unnecessary acceleration, idling or braking too sharply can be shown individually.

This can be done through an intelligent software solution in the truck cockpit that analyses driving behaviour in real time and provides direct feedback, even without the fleet manager’s raised forefinger. The system informs the driver with warning messages and can thus provide “corrective” support. In this way, driving behaviour and fuel efficiency are continuously and sustainably increased.

Bild: iStock (Smederevac)

Use intelligent routing with current traffic information

Despite the Corona pandemic and largely restricted mobility of the population, a total of 513,500 traffic jams with a total length of 679,000 kilometres were registered by the ADAC in 2020. The result: 256,000 hours of delay, in other words: more than 29 years. In the last quarter, traffic volumes even increased again compared to 2019, despite the lockdown.[3]

This makes it all the more necessary for all transporting companies to adapt to current traffic conditions in their planning and execution, as well as to make quick and smart route changes. After all, spending time in traffic jams not only causes delays and disrupts route plans. The result is stress and hectic for drivers and dispatchers, as well as dissatisfied customers. Specialised (truck) navigation software helps to find optimal routes for all vehicles. In addition to live traffic information, other criteria can also be taken into account, such as the height and weight of a vehicle. This not only saves valuable time, but also cash.

Minimise repair and maintenance costs

In addition, the maintenance costs of the company’s own truck fleet are a decisive factor influencing operating costs. This is because the greater complexity of today’s trucks also makes their maintenance much more intensive. And intensive in this case also means more expensive. So how can you increase the service life and reliability of trucks without letting the costs rise immeasurably?

Through uniform, regular maintenance intervals and system-supported alerts, you sustainably reduce the risk of longer, more costly downtimes.

Effective planning of vehicle and tyre checks helps to detect possible damage or defects at an early stage. Often, warning signals are ignored for too long, damage is detected/reported too late and thus the risk of even more costly consequential damage or failures is accepted. Through uniform, regular maintenance intervals and system-supported warning signals, you sustainably reduce the risk of longer, more costly breakdowns.

However, not only fleet management but also the drivers can contribute to the protection of particularly susceptible and quickly wearing vehicle components with appropriate driving behaviour. A forward-looking driving style means not least avoiding unnecessary acceleration phases and heavy braking.

Further valuable tips on how to get your fleet costs under control can be found in our free guide.