Get Fuel Smart Now, Even When Prices Are Low
Ask the Fuel Expert
By Jack Lee
How’s business? Most of us have seen cutbacks in the last few months, but today I have some good news for you. Better fuel management will make you money. And you don’t have to look very far. Extra cash is right there on your company’s spreadsheet masquerading as an expense.
Fuel prices may be lower but now is a good time to get fuel smart.
Even with prices less than half of what they used to be, fuel is still a huge part of your overhead. In fact fuel is the second largest expense for most industries, next to labor. A few months ago it was the No. 1 expense. Unlike other expenses that you can’t control, your cost of refueling is relatively easy to manage. There are a number of things you can do today which will eliminate unnecessary waste, and tomorrow, when fuel prices start to creep up again, those savings will be even bigger.
You don’t have to be a mathematician to understand how this can put more operating cash into your company. By employing even a couple of these strategies you can easily enjoy a 10 percent savings (or more) on your refueling expenses. This amounts to a lot of money and when fuel prices go up, those savings will grow exponentially.
To start, make a resolution to be more “fuel responsible” in the new year. You have heard this before: Fuel is a non-renewable resource, so plan to be more responsible. Make this a company-wide initiative. Decide who will become your company’s fuel manager, then empower them to work with you to cut your fuel consumption. Here are a few tips.
How are you getting the fuel you need today? Does it make sense for you to have fuel delivered rather than traveling to card locks or using your own tanks? Onsite delivery will cut your fuel consumption immediately and eliminate spills, risks to the environment and theft. For some companies fuel theft is a huge problem, but now it can be eliminated.
This one strategy alone will save you thousands of dollars each year.
Check with an onsite delivery company and have a fuel needs analysis done and compare it with your current method of refueling. For the best efficiency, refueling is done when your equipment is idle, so productivity is not interrupted. Another benefit of having your fuel delivered to each truck or piece of equipment is time saved. On average each refueling you do can take at least 20 minutes.
You’ll save the fuel used traveling to and from the card lock too. Add this all up and each month you can save a lot of fuel and hundreds of hours in labor costs. This saved time is instantly converted to productivity, rather than refueling.
Another fuel smart initiative is to plan to measure and manage your fuel. Technology exists that can help you, and it is not expensive. Here’s what I mean. You can record every drop of fuel consumed by each piece of equipment and have that data delivered via email. Now you can check your fuel consumption and make qualified operating decisions.
With this information in hand you can talk to your operators and show them where fuel is being wasted and make suggestions on how to work smarter. Data is captured showing total operating time, time spent idling, engine revving, speeding etc. This allows you to train your operators and monitor their performance against realistic operating thresholds you set. When you have accurate information, you become a better manager.
Your equipment will last longer too. When your operators are reminded regularly about your new fuel smart initiatives and adjust their habits, less fuel will be consumed. With that, operating time is cut. The result is you will add months to the life of your equipment and cut maintenance costs along the way. And that delays making major capital expenses.
Now let's think about the environment. It is foolish to waste fuel because it is a non-renewable resource. Besides that the more fuel you use the more pollutants you spew into the environment. A new fuel strategy can easily save you 10 percent to 20 percent in fuel costs and a corresponding amount of toxic emissions will also be cut.
With a new fuel management strategy you will become part of a worldwide movement to help cut pollution. As the champion of good fuel management in your industry, you can take on a leadership role. Tell your customers what you are doing. It will attract attention and it's good for business too.
This year has given us fuel prices on a roller coaster. As much as we enjoy low prices now, we also know that prices will go up. No one can predict if they will reach the extremes we saw not too long ago, but regardless of prices you can save cash with a better fuel smart strategy.
Look at it another way. With a slower economy you are not as busy. Why not invest this time and make some fuel smart changes that can pay you dividends for years to come? It makes sense.
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Jack Lee is CEO of 4Refuel – the largest onsite fuel management company in Canada and a global leader in technology designed to help businesses reduce their fuel expenses. Contact him at AskTheFuelExpert@4Refuel.com.
CBIA offers a fuel management service to its members through Supervised Fuels. Click here for more information.