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Fleet Focus: You have lot of control over how much fuel you will need

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Diesel prices drop everywhere, and by more than a nickel in california
Your equipment has an impact on fuel consumption, of course. How your truck is spec’ed, from engine size to transmission, axles, gear ratios, tire size and type, and even your engine oil can make a difference in fuel consumption. (The Trucker file photo)

How much do you want to pay for fuel? While there isn’t much that can be done about the price posted at the truck stop, you have a lot of control over how many gallons you’ll need to purchase, and how many dollars will become a minus on your business budget and a plus on someone else’s.

The numbers are telling, and can have a tremendous impact on an annual business budget. At 100,000 miles a year, not a lot for a hard-running owner, the difference between five and six miles per gallon is 3,333 gallons of fuel purchased. At the average U.S. price per gallon of $3.04, reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on June 24, that’s a difference of $10,132 per year in cost.

Increase your mileage to seven MPG, and your annual savings climbs to $17,371. Granted, increasing fuel efficiency by a full MPG, or even two, is a tall order. Or, is it?

The only question is, how much potential savings do you want in your pocket instead of run through your truck’s fuel pump?

Your equipment has an impact on fuel consumption, of course. How your truck is spec’ed, from engine size to transmission, axles, gear ratios, tire size and type, and even your engine oil can make a difference in fuel consumption.

Unfortunately, it isn’t quite as easy as big engines burning more fuel than small ones. Depending on gear ratios, load hauled and terrain, a smaller engine may work harder than a large one to get the job done, burning more diesel in the process. Auto-shift transmissions get credit for saving fuel, but drivers who know how to shift manual transmissions for maximum fuel economy can do as well or, in some cases, better. It’s important that the truck be spec’ed for the intended job.

Driving technique still has a tremendous impact on fuel economy. Every time you push down on the throttle, you’re spending money. Speed raises your fuel costs, but reducing speed also increases driving time. It’s a tradeoff that every truck owner has to decide on their own. In these days of electronic logging and tight dispatches, it is sometimes necessary to drive as fast as legally, and safely, possible. On shorter trips or trips with a lot of time built in the dispatch, however, some drivers may elect to save some fuel.

In stop and go traffic, another floor pedal has an impact on fuel consumption. Each time the brake is used, fuel must be burned to regain the speed that was lost. Cycles of hard braking followed by pedal-to-the-metal acceleration waste a lot of fuel. Increased following distance allows for gentler braking and fewer miles per hour to make up. It reduces driving stress, too.

Idling is still a huge fuel waster.  Visit any truck stop and you’ll find trucks idling on the fuel island or in spaces when the driver will return after a short period. Often this is done to keep the interior at a comfortable temperature, but it comes at a cost. Turn the truck off when you can.

Idling during the driver’s rest period may be necessary for comfort and effective sleep, but it’s expensive. At a gallon of fuel per hour, a 10-hour rest period can cost well over $30 in fuel. Night after night, the cost adds up. Many truck owners consider an auxiliary power unit (APU) to reduce the cost. Diesel and electrically powered options exist. Other options, like bunk heaters that use small amounts of fuel, as well as battery-powered options like fans and mattress heaters, are available.

More aerodynamic options are available than ever, too. Trailer skirts, scoops, spoilers and tails claim fuel efficiency gains of four or more percent, and a combination of two or more can easily add a half MPG to your fuel mileage. Tractor options like flow-through mudflaps, fairings and hubcaps, can add more. If you’re buying, the cost of each must be weighed against the expected return. If you’re leased to a carrier that provides the trailer, fuel efficient trailers can knock a nickel per mile or more from your fuel costs, effectively raising your per-mile compensation by that amount.

There is no single solution to high fuel costs, but by being aware of the options and driving to save fuel, truck owners can add substantially to the bottom-line of their business.

The website for the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s fuel price report, issued every Monday, is www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel.

 

 

 

 

 

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Equipment

Transflo adds Surfsight video technology to its platform of freight solutions

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Transflo adds surfsight vehicle video technology to its platform of freight solutions
Surfsight provides real-time video visibility and insight into fleet performance and challenging situations on the road, helping fleets reduce risk and insurance claims while improving safety and productivity. (Courtesy: Transflo)

TAMPA, Florida — Transflo, a mobile, telematics and business process automation provider to the transportation industry, has announced the AI-12 Dual Facing Dashcam solution as part of its Mobile+ ecosystem of digital and telematics solutions for truck fleets and drivers.

Surfsight provides real-time video visibility and insight into fleet performance and challenging situations on the road, helping fleets reduce risk and insurance claims while improving safety and productivity.

Integrated with Transflo’s telematics platform, the cloud-connected Surfsight dashcam uses front-facing and cabin-facing cameras. The camera uses built-in artificial intelligence to detect hazards on the road, and infrared to recognize driver distractions in the vehicle. The driver is automatically alerted.

Surfsight streams from vehicles to secure cloud-based servers, providing fleet managers with continuous access to video. Managers can review video of groups or individual vehicles via a customized, secure, online dashboard using a web browser running on any type of device. Surfsight also provides access to on-demand video retrieval and review on the company’s cloud platform.

Surfsight dashcams cost just $200 and monthly subscriptions start at $25 per month as part of Transflo Bundle+, which extends the capabilities of the Transflo Mobile+ platform.

“Increasingly, video is an important tool for improving safety and operational visibility,” said Doug Schrier, vice president of product and innovation for Transflo. “The Transflo Bundle+ platform is the ideal way to incorporate vehicle video and telematics into your digital workflow.”

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U.S. trailer net orders closed 2019 down 51% from full-year 2018

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U.s. trailer net orders closed 2019 down 51% from full-year 2018
ACT Research reports that even though most of the major trailer categories showed month-over-month gains, the drop in dry can orders was enough to put the total industry results in the red.

COLUMBUS, Ind. – New U.S. trailer orders of 18,400 were down 13% month-over-month in December, and after accounting for cancellations, net orders of 17,700 dropped 11%. Longer-term comparisons show net orders down 35% year-over-year and 51% lower compared to full-year 2018, according to this month’s issue of ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailer Report.

ACT Research’s State of the Industry: U.S. Trailers report provides a monthly review of the current US trailer market statistics, as well as trailer OEM build plans and market indicators divided by all major trailer types, including backlogs, build, inventory, new orders, cancellations, net orders and factory shipments. It is accompanied by a database that gives historical information from 1996 to the present.

“While seven of the ten major trailer categories posted month-over-month gains, the sequential 32% drop in dry van orders was significant enough to pull the total industry results into the red,” said Frank Maly, director of CV transportation analysis and research at ACT Research. “Continued softness in both freight volumes and rates are generating financial headwinds for fleets, and as a result, their investment plans continue to be extremely cautious.”

Maly continued, “Fleets are aware that, as a result of weaker OEM orderboards, lead times are dramatically shorter than this time last year, so any orders placed now are likely to be delivered in a much more acceptable timeframe. It is also likely that pricing will be more advantageous.”

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Peterbilt delivers model 579EV to Werner for electric-powered truck pilot program

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Peterbilt has partnered with Werner Enterprises for their electric operations. The 579EV utilizes a TransPower Energy Storage Subsystem. (Courtesy: Peterbilt)

DENTON, Texas ­— Werner Enterprises has selected the Peterbilt Model 579EV for their battery electric-powered truck pilot program.

“Werner Enterprises has long been regarded as an industry pioneer, and Peterbilt is honored to partner with them and have our 579EV lead their electric operations,” said PACCAR Vice President and Peterbilt General Manager, Jason Skoog. “Peterbilt is leading the charge in electric vehicle development, with three applications for zero-emissions performance.”

The 579EV delivered to Werner utilizes a TransPower Energy Storage Subsystem with a total storage capacity of 352 kWh.  It is driven by a Meritor Blue-Horizon Mid-Ship Motor Drive Subsystem with up to 430 HP, features an estimated range of about 150 miles and a charging time as little as 1-hour when a fast-charging system is utilized.

Funding for the tractor was provided through the California Air Resource Board California Climate Investments (CCI) program, along with the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

“Werner is committed to finding alternative ways to keep our trucks environmentally-friendly while staying at the front edge of technology,” said Werner Enterprises President and Chief Executive Officer Derek Leathers. “Now, we’re excited about putting on some real-world miles with a dedicated customer in southern California over the next year.”

Pricing and option availability for 579EVs will be available on the Peterbilt’s SmartSpec sales tool in the second half of 2020.

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