Fuel Management

Bright Ideas: Fuel Management

Discover best practices and bright ideas for fuel management.

July 2009, Government Fleet - Feature

by Staff

Click here for full article.

Best Practices for Managing Fuel Consumption and Cost

1. Use Alternative Fuels
With public sector fleets under government mandates to comply with legislated alt-fuel programs, data on fuel savings from these less-traditional fuels and hybrid technologies has begun to mount.

This data, plus consideration of such factors as total lifecycle costs, vehicle application, infrastructure, government rebates etc., all play a role in determining the alt-fuels and technologies right for each fleet’s specific needs.

2. Track Fuel Spend
Available as in-house or vendor-supplied systems to buy fuel at retail outlets, purchase cards help establish accountability at the employee level, tracking card transactions by individual employee and vehicle. Cards can be programmed to limit fuel type and non-fuel or other unauthorized purchases.

Data management systems now allow sophisticated exception report tracking, pinpointing occasions of non-authorized use for further investigation.

For example, Illinois Central Management Services monitors reports and requires periodic and annual agency review for security and oversight. Approximately $20,000 worth of fuel card theft or potential theft has been discovered since 2006.

Some fleets blunt the effect of rising costs through fuel contracts that lock in prices. Colorado Springs, Colo., for example, has saved approximately $1 million in fuel expense since 2005.

3. Cut Back on Idling
As fuel prices surged over the past few years, most fleets have instituted anti-idling policies. Tactics range from programming engines to shut off upon reaching an idling time limit to installing heater systems to pre-heat trucks in cold weather.

City of Moline, Ill., fleet vehicles have been equipped with GPS technology, e-mailing daily exception reports to Fleet Manager J.D. Schulte. “This has been a huge tool in enforcing our idle reduction policy,” he said.

4. Right-Size Vehicles
By closely matching power needs and vehicle size to application, public sector fleets have cut fuel costs by millions of dollars.

With lifecycle numbers and annual utilization reports for every fleet vehicle, Volusia County, Fla., right-sizes vehicles with less than 25-33 percent of the median miles per class. Lifecycles for lesser-used units have been extended to maximize utilization. Replaced or right-sized vehicles in the best condition are placed into the motor pool or cascaded to other departments to replace older units. The efforts amounted to one-year savings of $400,000.

Another right-sizing tactic is automated motor pools, which can eliminate underutilized vehicles.

5. Properly Maintain Vehicles
A standard, scheduled preventive maintenance program, requiring employees to bring vehicles in for maintenance such as engine tuning, air and fuel filter replacements, and manufacturer-specific tire inflation, helps boost fleet fuel efficiency.

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