Fuel is often one of the biggest expenses for commercial fleets. In 2019, fleet managers reported that fuel spend accounted for an average of 24% of their total fleet costs. It’s clear that minimizing these costs can drive huge savings for your fleet, but managing fuel effectively can be a great challenge. Fuel costs vary based on location. Unpredictable economic factors and fluctuating regulations also create complications.
However, commercial fleets can minimize the burden of fuel costs with fuel management systems. Fuel management systems help you lower fuel costs and maximize fuel efficiency. These solutions can identify inefficiencies in fuel usage by tracking inventory and idling time across your fleet.
Here’s how fuel management systems improve your fuel monitoring, purchasing, and efficiency.
What are fuel management systems?
Fuel management involves controlling and monitoring fuel consumption and expenses. It can be as simple as a driver checking a fuel gauge to see when to refuel or as expansive as fleet-wide real-time fuel analytics.
One of the goals of fuel management is to improve fuel efficiency, which is a measurement of how well a vehicle converts fuel into energy. Fuel efficiency is often measured by fuel economy, or the miles per gallon (MPG) a vehicle can travel.
Achieving fuel efficiency largely depends on the vehicles in your fleet. Newer trucks and trailers are required by law to reach certain fuel consumption standards. While this makes them more efficient, there are still ways to improve the fuel efficiency of existing vehicles. For example, safer driving behaviors and regular maintenance also improve fuel efficiency.
Fuel management systems give you access to valuable usage metrics and fuel data. Implementing a fuel management system can help you identify and reduce fuel-related costs.
Automated fuel management systems take efficiency a step further by consolidating tasks. Imagine getting real-time alerts for unusual vehicle behavior or fuel purchases. Receiving notifications like this makes fuel monitoring a seamless part of your operations. Instead of spending time on tedious paperwork and tracking receipts, you're free to focus on increasing your bottom line.
5 ways fuel management systems can help your fleet
One of the biggest benefits of fuel management systems is cost savings. Improved efficiency through fuel management frees up more of your resources and capital for investment in new fleet technologies. Small savings made across your fleet today can yield bigger fleet-wide improvements in the future.
Here are five of the most important ways fuel management systems can help you increase efficiency and reduce costs.
1. Lower costs through good driving habits
One way to improve fuel efficiency is by driving the speed limit. After 50 mph, fuel economy drops off at a rate of $0.20 per gallon every five MPH faster drivers go. Engines are optimized for travel at the speed limit, so speeding often leads to wasted fuel.
Fuel management systems can help identify vehicle speeding and harsh braking events. This information helps you understand and support good driving across your fleet.
Another way fuel management systems can help you identify good driving habits and improve fuel efficiency is through reduced idling time. Long-haul trucks often idle for six to eight hours a day. Especially for larger fleets, wasted fuel expenses can add up to be a significant expense.
Fleet managers can analyze and incentivize good fuel conservation behavior by leveraging fuel management system data. Vehicle-specific data on idling and driving behavior allows fleet managers to accurately identify inefficient or abnormal activity by measuring changes over time with fuel and trend reports.
Fuel management data also helps fleet managers identify drivers who need coaching. Coaching can come in different forms. For example, you could set up automated alerts when certain driving behaviors are detected. This flexibility enables fleet managers to determine what’s right for their fleet.
2. Improve fuel efficiency with proactive vehicle maintenance
Relying on drivers to track their vehicle’s maintenance and address problems on the road is challenging. Fleet management solutions like Samsara take the guesswork out of maintenance. When vehicles are at optimal performance, it helps reduce fuel consumption.
For example, real-time diagnostic alerts allow you to receive instant notification of engine fault codes. Regular engine maintenance ensures that your fleet performs with its best fuel efficiency. When engines are cleaned and supported, they run more efficiently and require less maintenance. This makes engine health a good proxy for fuel efficiency.
Other non-engine maintenance also improves fuel efficiency. For instance, making sure a vehicle’s tires are at ideal pressures and aligned properly minimizes rolling resistance. This immediately improves a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and lowers fuel costs.
It is best to address issues before they become problems, since cost savings can add up over time, and last-minute emergency repairs can be expensive. To avoid last-minute maintenance altogether, Samsara fleet management solutions help you become proactive and avoid unexpected breakdowns by predicting problems before they occur.
3. Decrease waste caused by fuel theft
Fuel theft is another expense that fuel management systems help minimize. Fraudulent fuel skimming can occur when drivers or thiefs replace card readers at gas stations with a skimmer that captures cardholder data. This looks like a normal transaction at a gas pump, but instead adds the money to a fake account without purchasing fuel.
Fleet management solutions like Samsara help combat this problem with real-time GPS tracking. A vehicle’s location can be tracked at all times, allowing you to compare vehicles’ locations to the locations of gas purchases.
How does it work? Say you receive a charge while none of the verified vehicles in your fleet are present. Samsara Fuel Reports provide the data to help reverse fraudulent charges. Previously, these fraudulent purchases could be difficult or time-consuming to verify.
Telematics can also track other cases of fuel theft. For instance, fuel management systems can alert you when fuel levels decrease sharply in a certain amount of time. That way, if someone is attempting to siphon off fuel, fleet managers can know in real time.
Fleet telematics solutions provide precise data on a driver’s fueling location and fuel transactions. That means cases of fuel theft can be avoided and dealt with efficiently. Each year, Samsara helps customers conserve more than 24 million gallons of gasoline or roughly $80 million in savings.
4. Support sustainability and find savings through electrification
Automated fuel management systems support sustainability across your fleet. Improving fuel management will both lower your fleet’s impact on the climate and improve customer loyalty. Consumers care about the carbon footprint of their purchases, so if you run a green fleet, your customer retention may improve.
Sustainability isn’t just a cost-related concern—it’s also an ethical one. Environmental stewardship is one way to demonstrate to employees and customers that you are invested in the future of your communities. Some fleet managers have already started to implement a partially electric fleet due to the vast fuel savings and decreasing dependence on variable fuel costs.
Electric vehicles are the future of transportation. The electric vehicle charging station market will increase to $30.41 billion by 2023, empowering more routes to support electric vehicles.
Samsara has invested in the reporting tools you need to support the transition from traditional fuel to electrification, including real-time reporting and fuel monitoring every step of the way.
5. Fuel management streamlines fuel tax reporting
Fuel management systems make it easy to regulate the fuel you use. Fleets with large vehicles in the United States and Canada have to submit quarterly tax returns under the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). These returns require robust documentation on the number of miles that vehicles in your fleet travel in each state. It can be a manual process that takes time to compile and resolve.
That’s why Samsara partnered with Promiles, the top fuel reporting software for commercial fleets. The seamless integration between the two services saves you time, so you don’t have to reconcile two different data sets for IFTA reporting. Samsara provides Promiles with access to all the GPS and fuel consumption data from your fleet, enabling accurate and efficient IFTA reporting.
Fuel management systems improve efficiency and save fleets money. But they also empower fleet managers to focus on their vehicles, drivers, and future instead of getting stuck in fuel costs and IFTA reporting. When you have real-time data on what’s happening in your fleet, you can understand the right ways to improve your fuel management.
How fuel management saved Dohrn Transfer Company $500,000
Fuel management systems like Samsara help you visualize fuel usage across the fleet. With Fuel Usage Reports and Idling Alerts, Samsara collects and analyzes engine data from each vehicle in real time.
This provides unmatched visibility into your fleet’s fuel usage. You can identify which trucks are idling, which drivers would benefit from coaching, and which routes minimize the distance between stops.
Samsara’s coaching platform supports different roles in your teams. Fleet managers can use reports to compare driver performance. They can also follow step-by-step coaching plans targeted to each driver’s behaviors. In-cab coaching provides drivers with real-time feedback. Alerts help drivers correct inefficient driving and can even be fun.
Fleet managers can encourage safe driving by setting up a friendly competition. The gamification feature on Samsara’s driver app lets drivers compete to see who can be the safest and most efficient. Creating a supportive, team-based environment helps drivers feel like they are part of the fleet community, which helps improve driver retention. And fleet managers can spend more time helping upskill the drivers they already have rather than recruiting new ones.
Dohrn Transfer Company used Samsara’s gamification feature and reported an 88% reduction in harsh driving events. “Insights provided by Samsara tools have contributed to a 2% improvement in our mileage per year, which equates to about 150,000 fewer gallons of fuel,” said Megan Schoff, Operations Technology Analyst at Dorhn. That’s over $500,000 of fuel savings without any new vehicle overhead.
Reap the benefits of fuel management systems
Fuel costs don’t have to be a headache. When you improve your fuel efficiency with a fuel management system, you can:
Improve driver behavior and retention
Reduce your carbon footprint
With these benefits, you can achieve fuel savings today and save for electrification or more efficient vehicles tomorrow. The freedom of reduced fuel costs opens up possibilities to implement real change.
Samsara is the top reviewed fuel management solution in the business. Customers trust Samsara’s fuel management tools to help them operate more efficient and sustainable fleets. Customers like Dohrn have used our fleet management software to improve efficiency and save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Check out our ROI Efficiency Guide to see how much you can save with fleet and fuel monitoring.