Beyond Driver Behaviour: Optimising your Fleet

Truck and Driver - performance monitoring systems and saving fuel

Beyond Driver Behaviour: Optimising your Fleet

There are two ways to significantly reduce the fuel bill of your HGV fleet. Both driver behaviour and vehicle performance can be optimised to reduce emissions and minimise costs.

Are you currently trying to improve driver behaviour as a way to save fuel? Take a moment to think about what you are trying to achieve and the best way to do it. Large fuel savings may be reached more easily by optimising your vehicles rather than further optimisation of your drivers. As vehicles become ever more autonomous the drivers influence on fuel consumption is decreasing, whilst the impact of vehicle hardware remains very large. 

A 15% fuel saving is often quoted as achievable from improved driver behaviour. However, this saving is heavily dependent on a multitude of factors. This 15% was published in a report originally by the Energy Saving Trust, and was followed by the statement that ‘a realistic long term goal for a fleet might be between 3 – 6%’. This is because to achieve the 15% saving, very specific conditions that are not practical for many fleets must be met. It is not considered a realistic goal and even the 3-6% saving is only relevant to certain types of fleets. 

Improving driver behaviour is important, improving the safety of your fleet is important. However, if you are looking to save fuel, driver behaviour is not always the most effective means to do so. The results of driver improvement initiatives are variable, uncontrollable and impossible to accurately measure. Choosing the right piece of hardware can be a more reliable way to save larger amounts of money.

Why do we focus on driver behaviour?

Bad driving increases fuel consumption. Using the engine inefficiently, wasting energy on accelerating too quickly and unnecessary breaking, all burn fuel. So, it is understandable that fleets want to improve driver behaviour.

Why is driver behaviour not the only solution?

Having more aware drivers, that accelerate more smoothly and slow down rather than break, does save money. However, significant savings are available that are independent from driver performance, such as fuel optimised hardware.

Increasingly technology is allowing us to counteract the impact of driver behaviour. Automatic gear boxes reduce the impact of a heavy foot and stop/start systems reduce the impact of idling. Within the next few years, the impact of the driver behaviour on fuel will become even less than it is presently.

It is true that bad driving in urban areas will use relatively more fuel than bad driving on a motorway. Long-haul journeys simply don’t benefit as much from improved driver behaviour due to the more consistent speeds.

Why might it be better to focus on fuel efficient hardware?

When a piece of hardware is changed, it is possible to identify the exact fuel saving achievable. These savings are gained once the hardware is purchased and continue throughout the products life. Unlike attempts to improve driver behaviour, these savings are specific figures that will not fluctuate.

Consider a bad driver and a good driver making the same journey in the same truck, both using the more efficient tyres. Both drivers will save fuel compared to them making the same journey with less efficient tyres. Though the fuel expenditure of the bad driver will be higher both drivers will save fuel due to the tyres, the saving due to the tyres is consistent regardless of the driver’s behaviour.

Driver Behaviour and Fuel-Efficient Hardware are Independent Factors

  1. A bad driver with fuel guzzling hardware: Will cost larger fleets millions in fuel per year.
  2. A good driver with fuel guzzling hardware: Will still cost larger fleets millions in fuel per year, with the added work of driver monitoring and training in order to save those few % on fuel where you can.
  3. A bad driver with fuel-efficient hardware: Hardware optimisation will significantly decrease your fuel bill, however good or bad the driver is.
  4. A good driver with fuel-efficient hardware: This is the optimum combination for your fuel bill.

So, What Now?

When you want to save fuel, it is important to identify the best way to do this. Driver behaviour and hardware are the two factors that you can change. The rest of the fuel is spent on factors that are difficult to avoid, such as the impact of the traffic and weather. Changing driver behaviour is one route to reducing your fuel bill but this is becoming less and less effective as the vehicle takes more control of the driving. Optimising vehicle hardware not only achieves larger savings but also gives you consistent and measurable goals. These savings are also easier to achieve, because once you have identified the right hardware with the lowest fuel consumption, and lowest total-cost-of-ownership, the savings are guaranteed.

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Book a demo to see how we have helped other fleets to reduce their fuel bill.

Dynamon provide big data analytics tools to help the logistics industry reduce costs and emissions through smarter hardware procurement.

Book a demo to see how we have helped other fleets to reduce their fuel bill.

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