Fuel costs coupled with truck maintenance expenses account for about 50 percent of an over-the-road trucker’s operating costs, according to TruckersReport.com. Fortunately, truckers and fleet managers can use new technologies to help them increase truck fuel efficiency, including automating their operation, taking advantage of GPS, utilizing Big Data, and working with other drivers through such driving techniques as platooning.
Automating the delivery process by using the latest routing software can help increase fuel savings. This type of software suggests the best routes to take when delivering your goods. For independent drivers, using an up-to-date trucker’s GPS will do the trick.
And if you work for a larger company, you could even see savings in the way workers load your truck, with special software directing what needs to go on the truck first in order to save time.
Telematics help dispatchers and fleet managers track the trucks in their network in both LTL or long-haul trucking applications. In addition to location, most telematic hardware and software also give a driver’s relative speed and whether their truck is idling or shut down. This allows fleet managers to have more control over their fleet fuel costs.
In order to take full advantage of fuel-saving technology, fleet managers and drivers should monitor and analyze all the data they gain from truck sensors. This information allows truckers to adjust their driving habits to increase the fuel mileage of their vehicles and allows companies to pinpoint where they can improve the overall fuel consumption of their fleet — whether by fixing faulty equipment, through additional driver training, or by using improved maintenance practices.
Platooning uses current technology, such as anti-collision systems, wireless communication, and a multitude of sensors to control multiple trucks in a line, all from a lead truck. This allows the trucks to drive much closer together, reducing aerodynamic drag and increasing fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent, according to TruckingInfo.com.
While this technology might seem to be more geared toward larger fleets, owner-operators can get on board too. One of the biggest barriers, though, is a longer-term Return on Investment (ROI) payback of 18 months, with many owner-operators preferring a payback within a year.
The above technologies represent only a few potential fuel-saving opportunities. And more tech is on the way. The SuperTruck Initiative was started by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) to focus on technologies that help increase fuel efficiency in heavy-duty trucks. According to the EERE study, if all fleets and owner operators got on board with emerging technologies, the individual driver could save up to $20,000 per year on fuel.
Some of the technologies being tested with the launch of SuperTruck II Initiative include improvements in tire-rolling resistance, engine efficiency, and aerodynamic drag. Keep an eye on the progress of the SuperTruck Initiative to see what new technologies emerge.