Part one of a series investigating the ROI of GPS tracking and fleet management solutions.

When it comes to the commercial trucking industry, the largest operating expense is fuel. According to The Trucker’s Report, a commercial truck can easily consume more than $70,000 of diesel fuel per year. Multiply that by the number of trucks in your fleet, and you’re looking at a significant hit to your bottom line.

The Climbing Cost of Fuel

According to a report released in 2018 by the American Transporation Research Institute, the average cost of operating a truck topped out at $1.69 per mile — a 6% increase from numbers in 2017. Though some of the costs contributing to this included increases in driver wages, insurance and maintenance, fuel remained one of the biggest line items. This increase was likely due to a rebound in fuel prices after nearly a decade of low-cost fuel.

Additionally, the report broke down that the rising cost of fuel isn’t just a national problem, but where you operate can also impact how much you spend. At $1.735 per mile, the Northeast is the most expensive area to operate a truck, 4.5 cents above the national average. The West ($1.616), Midwest ($1.591), Southeast ($1.553) and Southwest ($1.536) have costs less than $1.69 per mile, but because of the East region’s higher overall cost of living and fuel prices, it’s more expensive to operate commercial trucks and therefore pushed the national average up.

Though fuel prices are expected to trend slightly downwards during 2019, the year-on-year increases can be alarming for business owners. Compare the average U.S. retail diesel prices in July since 2016:

  • July 2016: $2.38
  • July 2017: $2.51
  • July 2018: $3.22
  • July 2019: $3.05

Source: YCharts

Since July 2016, the cost of fuel for commercial vehicles has increased by over 28%.

The Problem with Accurately Projecting Fuel Costs

Review site SoftwareAdvice.com conducted a survey of transportation industry professionals regarding the challenges they face with regards to fuel efficiency. More than half of the respondents (53%) said that their fuel costs exceeded their projections either “somewhat” or “very frequently.”

Frequency of Fuel Costs Exceeding Projections

Image courtesy of SoftwareAdvice.com

Some of the reasons for exceeding these projections included:

  • Accounting errors
  • Poor or inefficient route planning
  • Road work or traffic
  • Poor driver behaviors (idling, hard braking, speeding)

Given that fuel is such a huge expense for commercial fleets, what can a fleet manager or fleet owner do? That’s where telematics and fleet management solutions come in.

The ROI of Fleet Management for Fuel Costs

Using a fleet management solution can lead to a variety of benefits, including improving savings on fuel spend. For example, did you know:

  • A fleet management solution can increase your fuel efficiency resulting in 30% more miles per gallon (MPG).
  • Using a fleet management solution to monitor driver behaviors can reduce wasted fuel consumption by 80%.
  • Monitoring your fleet with a telematics solution can help reduce idle time by nearly 40%.

The numbers look good, but how does a telematics solution actually bring proven ROI benefits for fuel to the table?

8 Ways Fleet Management Cuts Fuel Costs

A fleet telematics solution can give you better insight into your day-to-day business with accurate, detailed information. From detailed reports on your entire fleet to individual driver scorecards, you’ll get actionable data to help streamline your fuel costs. For example:

      1. Accurately budget fuel costs. A fleet telematics solution can help you better understand how your fleet is performing, right down to actual costs per mile. Having a handle on your fuel spending can help you make better budgeting decisions.
      2. Monitor idle time. By monitoring your idle time, you can gain valuable insight into how much fuel you’re wasting, and when and where to cut the engine during long periods of waiting.
      3. View driver scorecards. Quickly view and analyze the behavior of your drivers to help coach against fuel-guzzling driving practices such as idling, speeding and rapid acceleration.
      4. Optimize routing. GPS tracking and fleet management can calculate more efficient routing, reducing the number of miles traveled. Less miles = less fuel used.
      5. Use speed alerts. It’s a fact — excessive speeding increases fuel usage. By setting up an alert, you can quickly react and instruct drivers to slow down.
      6. Fuel card integration. Get a handle on how often your drivers are fueling, how much is being spent and an accurate view of what your average cost per mile actually is.
      7. Monitor vehicle health. Keeping your valuable assets running in peak condition is important for increasing your ability to save on fuel. With a fleet management solution, you can prevent inefficient vehicles by setting regular maintenance alerts.
      8. Understand vehicle performance. Getting an in-depth understanding of how Vehicle A performs against Vehicle B can help you to better utilize your fleet for tasks.

     
    According to Automotive Fleet, only 30-40% of fleets are using a telematics solution. With all of the proven ROI benefits, why are more fleets not taking advantage of fleet management solutions and telematics?
     
    Not using a fleet management solution or telematics yet? Find out what your estimated ROI is with our free, online ROI calculator today!