The Dilemma of Rising Fuel Prices
As someone who has a long commute into the office, I am very familiar with how the rising price in fuel is hitting the wallet. 12 months ago, it cost me around £30 to fill up my vehicle but today the cost was £60. When I glanced at the dial indicating the cost, I was shocked. Once I had made sure that the fuel was not simply leaking out the bottom of my vehicle, I went into the station and paid.
Getting back into my car, I switched on the radio and the presenter was interviewing a Fleet Manager from a local council in Scotland. This particular individual was responsible for a fleet of vehicles that carried out various public services ranging from mowing the lawn and maintaining street lighting to public transportation and gritting the roads during icy conditions.
He said that when he submitted his budget for the year it was based on a cost of 91 pence per litre of petrol. However, with petrol prices currently around 120 pence per litre he is expecting to be £200k over budget. He was faced with the choice of either finding ways to become more efficient or simply cutting public services. One of the public services that he felt was at real risk was road gritting.
The rising cost of fuel is forcing service providers to introduce measures designed to help meet these costs. For example, one police force in the US has decided to increase fines for offending motorists. From 1 July, motorists caught in Holly Springs, Georgia, will have to pay an extra $12 (£6) to cover the costs of police chasing them down. The town’s police chief says the “fuel surcharge” will generate up to $26,000 (£13,000) in revenue per year. Recent $4-a-gallon fuel costs have forced other police forces in the US to turn to unusual cost-saving measures. In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, police patrols are being ordered out of their cars and onto cycle and foot patrols. In South Fayette, also in Pennsylvania, officers have been told not to sit parked up with air conditioning on. The local police chief told his patrols: “If you want to stay cool, park under a tree.”
Cutting services and/or increasing prices are not the only option that companies are faced with. . They should look at everything from eco-friendly driver training, to improved vehicle maintenance, street-level routing and schedule optimization.
Here is one tip to reduce your fuel bill:
Improve route planning – Companies should consider more actively planning efficient routes for field technicians to maximize fuel efficiency. Doing so effectively requires better schedule management. Greater overall efficiency arises from transforming fuel cost management into overall travel management by ensuring the right people with the right skills are doing the right things at the right time. It’s true that companies can reduce total mileage by a few percentage points by minimizing unauthorized trips and helping drivers pick short routes. However, efficiently assigning tasks to mobile workers can reduce travel by as much as 20 percent.
Street-level routing (SLR) can help companies significantly reduce travel time and increase “wrench time” – time completing jobs. Combined with GPS, SLR not only lets managers know where there resources are throughout the day, it also ensures drivers travel the most efficient distances between jobs, further reducing fuel consumption. SLR takes into account myriad variables including one-way streets, congested neighborhoods, slow-moving highways, etc. and calculates the optimal route each driver should take – reducing travel time and gas consumption and ensuring on-time arrivals.