As diesel fuel prices keep going higher all fleet companies need to take paths to achieve fuel savings. It seems every year the transportation industry faces new perils during the winter months and this year is no different. Currently the weather forecasters are predicting not only one of the coldest, but the snowiest in the last five (5) years. Among the challenges above and beyond the weather, diesel fuel prices are on the rise again and most states and many municipalities have mandated idling restrictions.
1. Please be sure you have adequately treated with diesel fuel additives the bulk fleet fueling tanks for the temperatures you will be dealing with. Think in terms of where the coldest point your fleet companies trucks will run to and treat accordingly with a quality diesel fuel additives program.
2. Block heaters are not designed to warm an engine. They are designed to maintain the heat already generated in the engine. Thus it is crucial that the truck be plugged in while the engine is still warm. If your fleet companies truck have them, use them. This will make starting fuel saving by being able to start the truck easier.
3. Remind the drivers to UNPLUG the truck before starting it. 2 – 3 seconds of the engine running while the block heaters are plugged in is enough to burn out the block heaters. This would add to your fleet management cost if they do this and reduce your fuel savings, communicate it clearly.
4. Do not idle the trucks. You will do more to COOL the engine by idling a truck coming off the road vs. shutting it off. (Engine temperature rises approx. 18 degrees when it is shut-off.) Conversely, good fleet management is starting a cold truck and letting it idle is futile. If you need to ‘warm’ a truck that’s been sitting – get in it and drive it around the yard and ‘exercise’ the truck once it has reached maximum oil-pressure. This will warm the engine, transmission, differential and suspension. Not to mention prevent running the risk of potential fines for idling for both the driver and the organization. Your diesel fuel prices will be lower by running your fleet companies trucks at maximum effeciency also increasing fuel savings. Fleet managers need to talk to drivers about these types of fleet management operations.
5. Remember to drain air-tanks and fuel water separators. As the ambient air temperatures fall, the ability for water to condense in fleet fueling tanks increases and can be carried into the filter/heater unit. During periods of extreme cold this should be done on a daily basis. The fleet fueling filters are the only protection the engine has against possible contaminants from your fuel companies fuel. A larger micron fleet fueling filter should never be used to extend filter life or increase flow. It may void the warranty and can be damaging to the pump and/or the injectors. What might seem like a fleet management solution today can cause your fleet companies operation a lot more later. Use properly treated diesel fuel additives and your fuel savings and fleet fueling filters will be fine.
6. Be sure air hoses are ‘hooked up’ to each other or if equipped to the dummy glad-hands when the equipment is not in use. This is one of the leading causes of brakes freezing up. As fleet managers, as part of your fleet management directives this should be in as part of your plan.
7. If moisture is present in an air-line, use one cap full of brake line anti-freeze in the EMERGENCY (red) side ONLY. Never put it in the blue side or you may cause the brakes to lock up. Use only company supplied brake line anti-freeze as there are many products out there that will cause damage to the internal brake system.
8. Be sure glad-hands hook up ‘tight’. If they go on ‘loose’ they will come off in a tight turn and will cause unnecessary cycling of the air compressor. Make sure you have a nice and snug fit.
These few tips can make the difference between go or no go situation, making that delivery commitment, or completing a run vs. a breakdown. Breakdowns during inclement weather are extremely dangerous. There are many great tips for proper fuel management in cold weather but best tip is to increase driver awareness and subsequently hold them accountable for action or inaction and hopefully fuel savings or at least not increased costs on your diesel fuel prices.
As we all soon get ready for a new year, it is time to review our fuel management, fleet managment, fuel companies and fuel cards. We like to say take stock in all of your program by reviewing your fleet management programs, fleet cards, diesel fuel additives, fuel management systems to make sure these fueling projects are still providing you fuel savings. Each fleet companies operation should take a look at it’s projections on diesel fuel prices now for next years fleet fueling budget and take additional actions on it’s mobile fueling, fuel card, fleet management services to increase fuel savings. It looks like 2011, diesel fuel prices will be going higher so fuel management more than ever will be important. Sokolis Group is here for you to help decide on your fuel card, mobile fueling, fleet card and lower your diesel fuel prices and increase fuel savings in 2011.