Fuel economy and telematics to cut fuel costs

Brief about fuel economy

Fuel economy deals with the distance covered by a vehicle and the amount of fuel consumed. A reasonable fuel economy is when the distance travelled by the vehicle is greater than the amount of fuel consumed.

Fuel economy is measured in different ways, for example, in the US, it is measured by the distance traveled in miles per gallon (MPG) of fuel, whereas, in the European countries it’s the amount of fuel in liters consumed per 100 kilometers. 

In such measurements of the fuel economy, only the efficiency of the energy (gasoline or Diesel) is counted but, there are various other factors that have a huge impact on fuel economy. Some of those factors are the mass of the vehicle, load carried by the vehicle, engine power, and driving style. 

When the efficiency of the energy consumption is compared, diesel has a higher fuel economy compared to gasoline (petrol). Diesel is 11% more fuel-efficient than gasoline (Petrol).  

Fuel economy not only depends upon the type of fuel, body mass, cargo capacity, and driving patterns, it’s also about the weather conditions. Higher the temperature around, higher will be the fuel economy as it keeps the vehicle warmed up and consumption of the fuel for combustion is less when compared to the combustion in cold weather. 

If the temperature is low, say it’s winter, then the fuel economy will be lower than in the summer. As it needs a lot of energy consumption to heat up the engine or in other words the aerodynamics drag is increased resulting in lower fuel economy. 

Similarly, the speed of the vehicle plays a vital role in deciding the fuel economy. If you want your vehicle to be economical, then the speed limit has to be within the economical limits, the more the speed, the higher will be the fuel consumption to increase the rotation speed of the wheel per minute to move faster which will ultimately result in lower fuel economy. 

At the same time, if the engine is ON and if it’s not moving, it will definitely cause lower fuel economy which is also called vehicle idling, one of the major factors that cause lower fuel economy because the combustion is on the process as energy is being consumed but the vehicle is not moving. 

Apart from these factors, Air conditioning and lowering the windows for air circulation within the vehicle also play an important role in the fuel economy. 

If the Air conditioning is used beyond limits, higher will be the fuel consumption resulting in fuel economy, Air conditioning is advisable in highway driving but not in the short distance drive. 

And if the windows are lowered, the air fills increase the aerodynamics drag which makes the engine consume more fuel to move the vehicle resulting in lower fuel economy. Hence, lowering the windows is advisable in short distance drive but not in highway driving.

The body mass of the vehicle is a key factor in fuel economy. Higher the body mass of the vehicle, more energy is required to run the vehicle, hence, body mass should be as low as possible for a better fuel economy. That’s the reason for most of the vehicles being weightless.

Every vehicle is designed with a specific carrier capacity limit, if the cargo capacity is exceeded beyond the limit by overloading, then again the amount of fuel consumption to move the vehicle will be high and the fuel economy will be lower. In order to have a higher fuel economy, cargo capacity or passenger capacity should be within the limits of the vehicle to maintain better fuel economy. 

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Save fuel with a GPS tracking device

Although we have various ideas to improve the fuel economy, there is one thing that not everyone has, it’s GPS tracking device that helps to save fuel, avoid wastage of fuel, and increases the fuel economy

How does a GPS tracking device help in saving fuel?

Now the GPS tracking system attached to the vehicle enables the fleet manager to have complete control over the live location of the moving fleets. Every successful business has huge teamwork with proper planning and execution. 

An intelligent team of executors plans the entire schedule of the fleet movements from the source point to its destination including the fuel consumption details. If there is heavy usage of fuel due to over speeding or vehicle idling within a particular distance in which it is supposed to consume lesser fuel, the driver can be given appropriate guidance with the help of a GPS tracking system, 

GPS tracking system helps in having complete control of the driver and the fleet. The vehicle is controlled by the driver and the driver is controlled by the fleet manager through a GPS tracking system to avoid wastage of fuel. Without a GPS tracking system in the fleet, a fleet manager cannot know the exact status of the fleet and its fuel consumption which would result in a lower fuel economy. 

Telematics offers such special tracking devices through GPS, which ensures that the company achieves a higher fuel economy of their fleets by having complete control over their driver and the fleet’s performances. 


Driver behavior on fuel waste

A driver is the most important person in the logistics business as he is the supreme executor of the project by transporting the goods from source to destination. Transporting involves lots of budgets in execution. Hence, the behavior of the driver is a key factor in fuel economy. 

GPS tracking system functions as a multi-tasking device like it also alerts the driver in case of vehicle idling. Vehicle idling is the condition where the vehicle is ON, the fuel is being consumed but the fleet is not moving, in such case, the company is prone to heavy loss of fuel. These cases can be avoided with the alert messages or calls from the fleet manager to the driver through GPS tracking system surveillance. 

Speed of vehicle plays a vital role in fuel economy, the higher the speed, the more the consumption of the fuel. So the driver is supposed to drive at an economical speed as planned by the team management. If any overspeeding is detected, the driver can be alerted to drive economically. 

Major losses for the company occur when the fleet meets with an accident where the vehicle faces heavy damage resulting in a delay of the goods delivery. Such situations affect the logistics very badly. In order to avoid such accidents, the behavior of the driver is very important, he is supposed to be responsible, alert, careful, and must stay away from drunk and drive which might cause over speeding which is also one of the major reasons for the fuel wastage. 

Route planning to save fuel

Pre-planning of fleet routes towards the destination is very important. Route plan from the source point to the destination is the crucial factor in transporting goods especially when the distance is longer. 

Routes that are the least traffic and smooth to drive are preferred for better fleet movement. Above all the distance of the route matters a lot in case of saving fuel consumption. So every fleet has a pre-planned route to reach its destination. As discussed earlier, the fleet manager has control of the live location of the moving fleet. 

If the fleet gets diverted due to various reasons like road blockage, diversions, or any other problem, the driver can be re-alerted through the GPS tracking system to stay on track as per plan by avoiding extra usage of fuel consumption.

Traffic in cities will definitely increase fuel consumption, so, such heavy traffic routes can be avoided with an alternative route to enhance the fuel economy. Other than traffic, the condition of the road matters when it comes to heavy trucks carrying goods. 

If the condition of the roads is not good, the vehicle will have to move slowly considering the maintenance of the vehicle which is also a very important factor in the logistics economy. Moving slowly for a longer duration will obviously result in a lower fuel economy. 

So, considering the distance, traffic, and condition of the roads, the route map of the fleet has to be planned to achieve better fuel economy.  

Fuel cards and fuel tax credit

Fuel cards are special credit cards issued to the users, generally the drivers of the logistics company. These cards are used specifically for fuel purposes as such cards offer a certain amount of discount or the surcharge waiver per month or the year. 

Some of the efficient fuel cards are offered by the leading banks in India such as SBI card, HDFC Bank, Citibank, etc. 

Again these fuel cards are very effective in case of account handling as everything is in digital format. A driver cannot misuse the cash in hand, it’s in the digital format, and it’s under surveillance on every transaction for the fueling. 

A driver uses a fuel card for a particular amount to fuel the vehicle, the company will know the exact details of the amount used and amount of fuel restored. This transparency of the financial things in the logistics business is a huge boon for any company.  

And it is also user-friendly for the drivers, as they do not have to carry a huge amount of cash in hand as they have to fuel the vehicle regularly during their long travel. If the driver is also in need of cash in an emergency situation, fuel cards can be credited by the company instantly which would help in the smooth functioning of the business. 

Fuel Tax Credits are nothing but the credit offered for the tax paid along with the fuel expenses. But, not everyone gets the benefit of Fuel tax credits. Only a certain sector of people avail this Fuel tax credit, for example, Farming people. 

It’s a credit for the fuel tax included in the price of fuel used in machinery, plant, equipment, heavy vehicles, and light vehicles traveling on roads. And the fuel tax credits differ from one person to another based on the usage of the fuel and its purpose of use. 

A statement called Business Activity Statement (BAS) is the record of the amount of fuel used, type of fuel used, and the purpose of fuel usage which is used to claim the Fuel Tax credit. Fuel tax credit rates also change regularly with respect to fuel costs. Hence, keeping a record of BAS is very important if you are eligible for the Fuel tax credits. 

Not everyone is eligible for the Fuel Tax credits, it has certain criteria for the eligibility to claim for the Fuel Tax credits. Since it’s the duty of the customs, you must be registered with the Goods & Service Tax (GST) for claiming the fuel tax credits. 

Both liquid fuels and gaseous fuels are eligible for the fuel tax credits. Liquid fuels like petrol and diesel are eligible. And also gaseous fuels like Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG), and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) are eligible for the fuel tax credits. 

With the rising fuel cost and its taxes, it’s very difficult for the business people involved in the supply chain to handle the budget. For such eligible people, Fuel tax credits are useful to reduce their high expenses for fuel tax. 

Tax charges differ from central and state governments. As of date, the state government collects Rs. 20 as tax for every liter of petrol. About 60%, two-third of the fuel price is covered by the fuel tax in India

Reminders on maintenance to save fuel

A Fleet is the backbone of any logistics business as it is the carrier of the goods from a source point to the destination with the help of the driver. If the fleet maintenance is not analyzed and updated properly, fleets will end up in sudden breakdown or mechanical errors during the fleet operations which would result in the delay of trade. 

To avoid such situations in the fleet operations, proactive reminders are used in fleets with the help of telematics GPS tracking systems to remind the driver or the fleet manager about the current condition of the Fleet to be operated. 

Any vehicle should be maintained regularly with it’s breaks, engine oil, body, electric and electronic performances, lights, horns, tyres, etc. overall composition and its performance has to be maintained regularly for better performance of the fleet. 

Pro-active reminders are used in several situations like vehicle hosting, where the engine is ON but the vehicle is not moving. For example, the driver is passing his time when the vehicle engine is On and its static. The consumption of fuel is complete wastage as the fleet is not moving.

In such a case, pro-active reminders are used with the help of tracking systems that detect the functioning of the engine but the static position of the vehicle in live tracking device enables the fleet manager to remind the driver not to host the vehicle for a long time and start moving. This helps to save fuel to a huge extent.

Stop fuel theft

Fuel theft is also one of the most dangerous aspects of logistics. It’s completely dependent on the driver’s behaviour. If the driver is not given enough payment, the driver themselves steal fuel and sell it off for money. 

Fleet managers use their tracking devices in the fleet to monitor the performance of the vehicle regularly. The mileage of the vehicle, speed, and distance traveled by the vehicle is calculated in proportion with the amount of fuel consumed for the distance traveled. 

Such analysis of the vehicle performance and the fuel usage helps in avoiding fuel theft. Fuel thefts are intolerable problems in the logistics industry without these GPS tracking devices. You never know where the fleet is and how much fuel is being consumed. The driver might just fool around with greed. 

A systematic approach and calculative process on fleet management with the help of GPS tracking devices, fuel theft can be eradicated completely to ensure high fuel economy resulting in better business and services. 

Sushanthi is a Content Writer who wishes to be the voice of brands to project their innovative ideas and stories through her writing skills.