Small and medium-sized transport companies have to make administrative or operational changes every time there is a significant hike in the fuel price and for businesses operating on tight budgets - as so many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) do - this can be particularly challenging, according to Arnoux Maré, MD of Innovative Staffing Solutions.
Maré says the impact of driving habits on fuel consumption is often underestimated, but a few adjustments to driving behaviour can go a long way towards saving costs at the fuel pump.
After years of managing, training and supporting its drivers, he has identified six habits that can help save fuel:
Regular vehicle check-ups
Vehicles need to be checked on a regular basis as many factors can lead to increased fuel consumption. Drivers should conduct pre-route checks of tyres, brakes, leaks and lights, amongst others. This is in addition to the truck having been through the truck depot for fuel top-ups, tyre checks, mechanical checks and washing.
Adhering to steady speeds and consistent driving behaviour on South African roads is crucial. Constant accelerating and braking result in high fuel consumption, as does consistently driving at high speeds.
Keeping tyres inflated at the correct pressure results in less resistance on the roads and less fuel usage. Keeping wheels aligned and tyres at the right pressure not only reduces fuel consumption, it also reduces wear and tear on tyres. A good rule of thumb for transport companies is to frequently check tyres and wheel alignment particularly after incidents such as hitting a pothole or curb.
Driving in higher gears, where applicable, also reduces fuel consumption. This should not be done at the cost of placing lives in danger, straining the engine or allowing the revs to drop too much.
Drivers need to be cognisant of changes in temperature and make sure they switch their aircons off when they don’t need them. Also, when they’re travelling at slower speeds, they can also open a window instead of using the aircon.
The road less travelled
Most transport companies pre-plan their routes. Sometimes, however, avoiding main highways during highly congested periods – or when an accident has caused a major bottleneck – can lead to significant fuel savings, even if the trip is slightly longer.