The following article written by Eugene Herbert, chief executive officer of MasterDrive, looks at how fuel price and future forecasts, now termed a ‘crisis’, have a major impact on the trucking industry – with the subsequent additional impact that consumer goods are soaring. This is the second part of a two-part article.
Technology and vehicle features
As projections are being made that we can anticipate a R30+/L fuel price in the not-so-distant future, changing driver behaviour can save operators, and by extension, consumers money by reducing consumption. Above behaviour, technology and other strategies that when used with altered driver behaviour can produce considerable savings.
Be selective when purchasing: in a demonstration in the USA, it was found that a truck with specifications which focus on fuel-efficiency can make a significant difference to consumption. In future purchases, fuel consumption and technology implemented by manufacturers to reduce it should be an important deciding factor in your selection.
Maintenance: regular maintenance as one would ensure with light motor vehicles, plays a major role in reducing fuel consumption too. Clean filters, trucks and trailers in alignment and low viscosity lubricants all contribute to efficiency.
Tyre pressure: consider tyre pressure inflation systems or automatic inflation on trailer tires.
Speed limiters: these devices can take the decision to speed out of your drivers’ hands altogether and force them to drive at speeds that ensure the best fuel consumption is achieved.
Idling: one can make use of engine settings to automatically turn the engine off after a specified time. Particularly, if drivers stay in their cabs overnight, ensure they have what they need to be comfortable without having to turn on the vehicle.
Don’t be hasty: tyres that have less tread tend to get 6% better fuel-efficiency. This is not to say that you should have bald tyres but ensure you run the full life of your tyres before replacing them.
Aerodynamics: wind resistance accounts for 65% of fuel-consumption and by altering the aerodynamic profile of your truck you can slash this consumption by 12%. There are various means by which you can do this and even technology to assist depending on the load.
Cruise control: reducing variances in pedal pressure while driving can actually result in 1-3% savings, whereas adaptive cruise control can save 5%.
Protect your fuel: unfortunately, theft of fuel is a real challenge and anti-siphoning technology is a must-have in today’s world.
Internationally, fleet owners can also work with OEMs by adding fuel-economy parameters to their engine settings. Many technologies are still on their way to South Africa, thus for now the country relies on the fleet managers and drivers to reduce fuel consumption as much as possible by using what is already available.
The ‘warm up’ vs crime statistics
While the debate over whether to warm up a vehicle or not, is valid and worth discussion depending on geographical location, one has to consider the risks that are faced when warming up vehicles. In 2019 in the UK over 84 000 vehicles were stolen and 11% of these were due to the driver leaving the keys in the ignition. In that region in particular, the reason this is done is to warm up vehicles in winter or cold weather.
While it is highly unlikely the same can be said of South African statistics because of our higher crime levels and the greater awareness of drivers means not many will leave keys in an unattended vehicle, it is still important to pay some attention to these stats. If warming up a vehicle in the morning is part of the routine, there are safer and more efficient ways to get this done than leaving a vehicle running – no matter where you are.
While there are no stats in South Africa about how often vehicles are stolen while warming up, it is likely that at least a few drivers have ‘fallen prey’ to this exact situation. Furthermore, most insurance providers will not cover theft of a vehicle where the keys have been left in the ignition and the driver is not present.
Additionally, if it is important in your views to warm up vehicles, or is a mandated action by management, leaving them to idle for a few minutes is not the best way to do this. Starting a vehicle and driving slowly for the first kilometres is much more efficient. This method uses far less fuel and carries a much lower safety risk.