What is fleet optimization?
Fleet optimization is about getting more from your business vehicles. It helps you to operate your fleet more efficiently without negatively affecting performance—all while keeping your customers happy.
By taking steps to track vehicles, minimize delays, reduce idle time and decrease fuel consumption, you can cut down on wasted energy and time and ensure you are getting the most out of all the vehicles in your fleet.
The benefits of fleet optimization
The cost of running and maintaining a fleet makes up a significant portion of many businesses’ operating costs. Fleet optimization is a simple way to operate your fleet more efficiently.
Fleet optimization not only decreases costs by saving you money on gas, but reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in your business. It can also reduce the need for costly repairs, extend the life span of your vehicles, and ensure your vehicles get where they need to go faster.
Roadmap to optimizing your fleet
Track vehicle use and performance
Tracking how your vehicles are used and perform is the first key step. It will enable you to work out the optimal time to replace vehicles.
You can choose a more sophisticated vehicle-tracking software or a simple logbook. The advantage of using software is that you can monitor where your vehicles are on the road and access other important information to support optimization, such as:
- Fuel consumption
- Idle time
- Engine fault codes
- Unwanted driver behaviours (such as speeding, hard turns, fast acceleration)
Conduct regular maintenance
The best way to prolong the life of your fleet is to take a proactive approach to maintenance. By regularly servicing your vehicles, you’ll prevent smaller problems from turning into more costly repairs. It also reduces the chance that your vehicles will unexpectedly break down, causing delivery delays and productivity losses.
Simple things like worn spark plugs, dragging brakes or low transmission fluid can also increase fuel consumption. Implementing a preventative maintenance plan will ensure your fleet runs at peak performance and decrease your carbon footprint.
Optimize fleet routing
One of the simplest ways to optimize your fleet is to check that your vehicle routes are as efficient as possible. This ensures that your customers get their goods or services on time and helps you maximize the number of deliveries you can make. Choosing routes that have the fewest stops and turns, or that avoid traffic, also reduces fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Route optimization software can help you to navigate complex multi-stop routes so your drivers don’t make unnecessary and inefficient stops, saving you time and money. In fact, optimized routes can increase fuel efficiency by 20 to 40%.
Implement an efficient driving policy
An efficient driving policy can eliminate practices that increase both fuel consumption and operating costs. For example, letting an engine run idle wastes about three litres of fuel per hour, and going even 10 kilometres above the speed limit on highways can burn about 10 percent more fuel.
Consider creating an efficient driving policy that sets out steps to reduce fuel use and wear and tear on vehicles. Such a policy could require drivers to:
- Reduce speeds
- Avoid idling
- Use cruise control
- Accelerate smoothly
- Use progressive shifting techniques
- Maintain proper tire pressure
- Use air conditioning wisely
Upgrade to fuel-efficient vehicles
Upgrading to fuel-efficient vehicles such as hybrid and electric models can significantly optimize your fleet. Depending on your activities, the savings you get from going electric can compensate for the potentially higher initial price of electric and hybrid vehicles. Operational savings for a fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles are also compounded as your fleet grows—meaning that the larger the fleet, the more compelling the financial argument for choosing lower-emitting options.
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