Fuel Management

Fleets Share Fuel Management Best Practices

September 2008, Government Fleet - Feature

by Chad Simon

In today’s reality of skyrocketing fuel prices, where, in many cases, fuel has surpassed depreciation as fleet’s No. 1 expense, fleet managers must account for every last drop dispensed. Systems must be put in place to monitor each vehicle’s mpg and cost per mile (cpm) so fleet managers can evaluate the practicality of improving overall efficiency by replacing gas guzzlers with smaller, fuel-sipping vehicles.

Fuel management programs offer a number of services, and more often than not, they can be customized to meet each fleet’s individual needs. A key turn or card swipe triggers an automated data-capturing process, which includes vehicle mileage, amount of fuel dispensed, engine fault codes, etc. This data capture eliminates countless hours of paperwork and streamlines all fleet costs into one billing report. In addition, restrictions can be implemented to deter misuse and ensure fuel is dispensed only for authorized vehicles.

Government Fleet spoke with a few leading public sector fleet managers with fuel management programs already in place to learn how they use them, the types of data they monitor, and how the systems have improved their fleet’s overall efficiency.

John McCorkill, Director of Fleet Services, City of Lynchburg, Va.

Fleet Size: 900 vehicles

Fuel Management System: Syntech FuelMaster

Fueling Sites: 6

The City of Lynchburg has been using CCG Systems’ FASTER automated fleet management system since 1999. The CCG software allows fleet managers to input labor, parts, and contracted work. The system produces useful fleet management reports, including preventive maintenance schedules and billing reports. The program’s interface allows McCorkhill to download data between the Syntech FuelMaster fuel management system and the FASTER software. He can bill a customer for all services on one invoice rather than providing separate bills for maintenance and fuel.

Eliminate Chance of Error

Once a vehicle drives onto the fuel site, the pump turns on. When the driver pumps the fuel, data is pulled automatically and downloaded into the system. This process eliminates the chance of errors when using a key to access the system and provides tighter control of information input into the system. Billing reports allow management to police fueling activity and pinpoint fuel misuse.

Before implementing the CCG system, McCorkhill produced an RFP using a detailed set of specifications and visited three operations that had implemented the program to review customer service issues and system feedback.

Data Used to Benchmark

McCorkhill uses the data collected to benchmark against other organizations. "We’re part of the International County Management Association (ICMA), and they collect all kinds of data from their members," he said. "We all input data in the same manner. They disperse the report to users, which allows to see how we stack up against other public sector fleets. The automated CCG system gathers that information and makes it easier to pass on and input into our program for a comparison."

For the City of Lynchburg, the high cost of fuel has especially impacted employee training and travel, limiting staff attendance at industry conferences and events due to budget shortfalls.

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