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Fuel Economy From The Trucking Company Back Office To The Truck Driver

When you are talking about over-the-road trucking, saving on your fuel numbers is relatively easy, mainly because when you are traveling at fast highway speeds, aerodynamic and low-rolling resistance solutions provide good payback. In stop-and-go applications, the picture gets a little murky.

In these scenarios, engine efficiency is inherently low, while vehicle inertia is constantly fighting against fuel economy. Truck drivers operating in these industries are more focused on making their delivery or completing the service than in getting the most out of their fuel economy, and understandably so. But that doesn’t mean fleets operating in these conditions are stuck in a box. Take UPS as an example.

More Parcels for Less Fuel

If anyone has learned to master these types of conditions, it’s UPS. They have achieved success in this area that few other operations can lay claim to. With over 90,000 trucks, tractors and package cars, they are well-known for adopting new technologies, alternative fuels, and advanced drive trains and truck technology. The company combines all of these efforts under what they call “green miles.”

UPS goes out of their way to match the vehicle to the route and not the other way around. They also try very hard to look for fuel efficiency gains no matter what power train the vehicle is running. One such example is when they partnered with Isuzu to develop light-weight diesel vans constructed of advanced composite materials. In testing, these models saw increased fuel efficiency in the area of 40 percent – no small number, indeed.

UPS also instructs their operators to have the engine off when the vehicle is not running. As some may say, the greenest miles are the ones that you don’t have to run. Computerized route planning and advanced pickup and delivery systems optimize the miles used based on customer communications and timelines.

UPS also uses telematics to find efficiencies where behavioral and mechanical aspects are concerned. UPS routes are specifically designed to utilize a minimum number of starts and stops, while still maintaining an on-time schedule. They also go out of their way to avoid left turns, which decreases both idle time and collision risk.

Truck Drivers operating UPS trucks also live by the no-idle rule. When their truck is stopped, it must be turned off. This includes time during traffic delays, long red traffic lights and quick office stops. This policy has resulted in a 24-minute decrease in idle time and a fuel savings of $188 per year.

But while this is all well and good, not everyone is UPS. So what is the everyday truck driver to do if they want to get the most out of their miles per gallon?

Owner-Operators Make a Difference

Long-time owner operators don’t have the luxury of relying on a large fleet to back their fuel efficiency efforts. Fortunately, there are specific steps that truck drivers can take to ensure they aren’t flushing their money down the fuel drain.

First, adopting or testing new technologies is the way to go. Focusing on what may seem like minor things – such as mud flaps – when combined, go a long way to saving you on bucks per mile.

There are four main aspects to conserving your fuel economy footprint.

  1. Slow driving: As an owner-operator, you need to make specific calculations on how to save the most fuel. The first step is taking your lead foot off the pedal. Operating in a fuel-optimized fashion generally means running it at or around 62 mph.
  2. Smart stopping: Make sure you are planning your meals, fuel and rest stops. One example is if you are traversing mountainous terrain. Plan to stop at a rest top at the top of a hill. Avoid rest or fuel stops that have a complex layout, leaving you needlessly driving around.
  3. AMT light touch: If you are operating an AMT, keeping your throttle light on the touch will go a long way. Try not to over-rev the engine, which also needlessly burns up fuel.
  4. Utilize technology: If you aren’t understanding how to utilize the latest technology, you may not get the most out of your smart powertrain. Know when to intervene and know when to let advanced technology do its work.

In the end, whether you are a 90,000 truck fleet or a single owner-operator, there are plenty of ways to ensure you aren’t wasting money at the pump. Keep a light foot, know when to keep your pace, and you’ll find your bottom line will thank you, no matter the application.

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