Best Practices in Fleet Fuel Management

Second only to depreciation, fuel is the second-largest public sector fleet expense. Municipal, county, and state fleets share best practices in reducing fuel expenses.

January 2010, Government Fleet - Feature

by Lauren Fletcher - Also by this author

While currently not as volatile as in past years, fuel is still one of the largest operating expenses public sector fleets must manage, second only to depreciation. The following explores how government fleets around the country are managing fuel costs.

Municipal Fleets

City of Chesapeake, Va.
The City of Chesapeake monitors fixed-price fuel contracts and is poised to commit as soon as pricing is favorable for its 2,800-vehicle fleet (cars, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks). George Hrichak, fleet manager, said to better manage fleet fuel expenses, the City has negotiated an attractive daily Oil Price Information Service (OPIS)-plus contract for fuels. The City also is replacing an obsolete Petro Vend system.

City of San Antonio

The City of San Antonio’s Fleet Maintenance and Operations Department reviews fuel, mileage, and maintenance costs and sets criteria to identify underutilized vehicles and equipment with high maintenance costs throughout the organization. The City’s fleet comprises approximately 5,050 vehicles and equipment, mostly sedans (1,500) and specialized equipment (3,000-plus), including refuse trucks, trailers, and off-road equipment.

 “In an effort to further reduce fuel costs and emissions, the City is currently evaluating the introduction of both E-10 (10-percent ethanol) and B-5 (5-percent biodiesel) fuels,” said Florencio Peña, fleet manager, City of San Antonio. “Compressed natural gas (CNG) is used to power 30 of the City’s side-loader refuse trucks, and propane has been used for several years to power both vehicles and equipment.”

The City of San Antonio replaced a decade-old fuel card reader system with an automated fuel management system (AFMS) in late 2009.

“The AFMS uses radio frequency that allows only those vehicles pre-programmed by fleet to fuel at city fuel dispensers,” said Peña. “Improvements gained through the implementation of the new system will help alleviate human error, duplicity, and technological inefficiencies by accurately reporting mileage, fuel inventory, and automatically linking to the City’s fleet management system.”

The AFMS system increases auditing capabilities and contains security features as well as hardware that supports customer hands-free authorization for dispensing fuel and accurate data exchange between the vehicle’s onboard computer and the island kiosk through a local wireless transmission.

“The automated fuel management system incorporates both hardware and software to track, monitor, and manage fuel inventory, dispensing, and billing processes,” explained Peña. “It’s resulted in the elimination of fuel cards, decreased time spent dispensing fuel, and implemented the transmission of vehicle data (i.e., mileage) via radio frequency.”

AFMS hardware and dispensing equipment has also been installed on mobile fuel trucks. 

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