First, I want to touch on monetary incentives as I know a lot of truck businesses use them. They can be a good idea, but I would argue that if you're a fleet owner, it's better to offer them as a team reward, rather than on an individual basis.
Setting a fuel target or benchmark and reviewing it on a regular basis can give everyone an immediate purpose and encourage the sharing of information. Another thing to keep in mind is that bonuses based on productivity or mileage can backfire when it comes to fuel economy. What you save by being more productive will often cost more in fuel, and it doesn’t promote good driving behavior.
If you work with a consistent review and reward process, it could be worth investing in a customised fleet management system. You can get information on for instance engine and gear utilization, speed adaptation, anticipation and braking. Then the drivers, themselves, can analyse how they drive and see where improvements can be made. Such a review process could for instance include a monthly follow-up, based on information from the fleet management system.
Ongoing training on how to drive fuel efficiently is also a prerequisite. When devising a training strategy one of the most important factors to consider is creating a safe environment where the driver can feel confident and ready to take on the responsibility of implementing changes to their daily driving habits. There is no one size fits all approach and of course legal requirements and the realities of your business can restrict what kind of training can be implemented. Nevertheless, we know that shorter trainings tend to deliver better results. In fact, some of the most effective trainings we have implemented have been around three to four hours with two to three dedicated to theory and one hour of driving. Training in smaller groups also tends to be more effective than larger ones.
But without the right tool, that is, a truck that is fit for the assignment, it’s not easy for the driver to drive fuel efficient. It can be a matter of size, specification, or proper maintenance– if the truck is not right for the job, the driver can only save so much fuel.
Do you want to learn more? Download the case study on Czech haulier Vapas who managed to cut its fuel consumption by ten per cent through a number of initiatives including:
Tatu has several years of experience as a truck driver and is currently working with driver development at Volvo Trucks.