Sanford & Hawley, a 125-year-old building supplies company, implemented a GPS Insight telematics...

Sanford & Hawley, a 125-year-old building supplies company, implemented a GPS Insight telematics solution and cut idling by 12% in a single year.

Photo courtesy of GPS Insight

Eco-driving techniques, coupled with telematics, can help fleets save fuel and money, while increasing efficiency and adding to the bottom line. With all of the insight that telematics has given fleet managers over the past decade or so, idling still remains one of the biggest fuel wasters, particularly for work truck fleets. Adding telematics can reduce excessive idling immediately by providing the data needed to coach drivers and send proactive reminders.

The savings can add up quickly. For example, a construction services company cut its idling time by 37%, saving 5,205 gallons in wasted fuel with its telematics solution. The company saved $18,000 in fuel expense in just one quarter. 

Why Stop Idling

While fuel is a consistent overhead cost for fleets, identifying areas of non-productive fuel use, such as engine idling, helps reduce fuel expenses tremendously. It also ensures fuel spend contributes to generating revenue, such as transporting goods or providing services. Essentially, the truck is burning fuel and getting 0 mpg without any benefit during idle time. Often drivers are idling their vehicles to run a heating or cooling system.

No matter if the reason is seemingly practical or careless, the result is the same, wasted fuel and unnecessary fleet expenses.

And the problem is pervasive. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 6 billion gallons of diesel and gasoline fuel are wasted due to idling each year. 

But idling doesn’t just waste fuel, it causes unnecessary — and costly — wear and tear on fleet vehicles. Unnecessary wear and tear will necessitate additional maintenance, and further impact productivity because of downtime, meaning more money out of company coffers and less revenue flowing in. 

Creating Transparency

It almost goes without saying that any method to save fuel and maintenance expenses should be embraced, but, without the transparency that becomes available through telematics, it’s difficult to fully appreciate the extent to which idling could be costing your fleet.

In fact, it was telematics that first gave fleet managers the hard data they needed to prove something they knew at a “gut” level — idling was often the culprit of ballooning fuel budgets and unnecessary maintenance.
For example, prior to implementing the GPS Insight telematics solution, one fleet was experiencing significant fuel and maintenance costs. Their telematics solution quickly provided an answer why. In a single month, the fleet’s drivers were idling for up to 22,660 minutes or 400 hours, wasting approximately 200 gallons of fuel. 

To control idling, the drivers of this fleet are now notified in real time to shut off the vehicle if it’s determined that it has been idling too long. In just three months, the fleet cut its idle time by 30%, and saw significant improvements in its fuel and maintenance bills. 

While, in general, idling is wasteful, there are times when trucks will need to idle, e.g., to power a piece of job-related equipment. The telematics solution can be used to help differentiate the difference between wasteful and productive idling.

More Than Just Technology

While telematics is crucial in identifying if a vehicle is idling, driver training and coaching are equally important in curtailing it. 

It is important as part of a driver’s training to clearly identify the bottom-line reasons why he or she shouldn’t be idling their vehicles in the first place. Fleet personnel should emphasize the costs to the company and to the driver’s goals — personalizing the impact will help drivers remain more cognizant about wasting fuel.

Setting alerts for times when excessive idling occurs can help fleet managers coach drivers when idling occurs, reinforcing strict no-idling policies as an exception occurs instead of after the fact when the impact of coaching could be less effective.

Gateway to Improved Productivity

With insight into idling in near real time and the ability to alert drivers and coach them as an exception occurs, fleets using a telematics solution to curb this most wasteful behavior will see marked improvements in productivity. 

Keep in mind, if your trucks are idling, they’re getting 0 mpg — which likely means their productivity is also zero. To put it in perspective, Sanford & Hawley, a 125-year-old building supplies company, implemented a telematics solution from GPS Insight and in a single year it cut idling and increased its MPG and, thus, its productivity by 12% in a single year. 

But saving fuel is only the first step to saving fleet costs with telematics. With the ability to track, monitor, and coach drivers, fleet personnel can use telematics to improve the fleet’s risk profile and further slash operational and maintenance costs, and, most importantly, increase the bottom line.