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How to Reduce Fuel Waste with In-Cab Coaching

In-cab coaching can help fleets save big on fuel costs. While fuel has always been a major cost center for fleets, in recent years fuel prices have risen to new heights, making reducing fuel usage a key priority for carriers across the country.

Fuel is the primary pain fleets are feeling, overtaking driver shortages for the first time in years, according to a recent American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) study. Across the United States, the price of fuel has increased by $1.58 per gallon over the past year, reaching a nationwide average of $5. To combat these rising costs, fleets are looking to conserve fuel in any way they can. One of the best ways is to look at improving driver behavior, which can impact a truck’s fuel consumption by up to 30%.

What Impacts Fuel Efficiency

Fuel efficiency has always been notoriously difficult to calculate. Historically, fleets have used miles per gallon (MPG) to monitor driver fuel performance. However, there are many things that impact fuel usage that drivers can’t control, such as:

  • Route
  • Terrain
  • Weather
  • Traffic
  • Age of truck

It begs the question, is MPG really a fair or even accurate metric? It’s a start, certainly, but fleets need to be able to analyze the true impact of driver behavior more deeply versus out-of-control forces. These variables are so difficult to gauge that it also makes it nearly impossible to implement cost-savings strategies. While fleets can’t control what they pay at the pump, they can take steps towards eliminating the amount of wasted fuel.

Because MPG is an opaque metric, fleets need a driver fuel performance metric that’s fair across the entire fleet, factoring out all the variables that drivers cannot control. Driver behavior does have a significant impact on fuel consumption, but without the ability to accurately measure the driver’s impact on fuel consumption, there’s no opportunity to improve or fairly coach them.

You can only change what you can measure, which is why Trimble is excited to partner with Tenstreet to offer an integration with True Fuel®, which offers real-time feedback and a measured driver efficiency metric.

The Power of Real-Time Feedback

Fleets that have the best-performing fuel programs typically have a secondary coaching process in place where driver trainers coach drivers on where they have the biggest opportunity to improve. However, these coaching sessions can happen hours, days, or even weeks after the drive, making it minimally effective.

Instead, fleets need an automated real-time coaching system. The system needs to be in-cab and provide consistent feedback right when the inefficient behaviors occur. The immediacy of this not only gives drivers the chance to correct in the moment but is also more likely to create long-term learning patterns that stick.

The system also must work with fair and accurate reporting to enable impactful and meaningful secondary coaching conversations. The combination of real-time feedback with secondary coaching has proven to be the most impactful way of positively changing driver fuel performance behaviors.

Rolling Out In-Cab Coaching

The benefits of in-cab coaching are clear, but there is one hesitation many fleet operators have: will this turn into a “Big Brother” situation? To avoid employees feeling like their every move is being watched and analyzed, companies should roll out the new system by showing how it will benefit the drivers and make reviews of their fuel usage more fair.

The Benefits of In-Cab Coaching

It should be noted that these systems aren’t just for mitigating high fuel prices. While the cost of fuel has topped the list of truckers’ concerns this year, motor carriers are still struggling with driver shortages in the long-term. Addressing fuel consumption not only helps decrease costs this year, but also helps companies be more competitive in the long run by tightly managing costs that could free up dollars to invest in equipment upgrades, employee acquisition and retention plans, and more.

How True Fuel® is Changing the Game

The nearly countless benefits of in-cab coaching is why Trimble has partnered with Tenstreet to offer True Fuel®, an automated, in-cab coaching system. It’s been thrilling to see an immediate decrease in fuel usage by as much as 10% by fleets that use True Fuel®.

True Fuel® audibly coaches drivers in real-time, successfully changing inefficient behaviors as they occur.  The system provides fleets with a measured driver fuel efficiency metric that is fair to drivers because it focuses only on what the drivers can control, and factors out all other variables. It also provides data-rich fuel analytics, enabling fleets to drive real business gains with deep insights into key operational concerns.

It's also simple to operate -- just a simple software upgrade! No additional hardware is required.

Next Steps to Decrease Fuel Usage

Every fleet can take steps today to understand their fuel usage and how to improve it. Start by analyzing the data currently available and doing a gap analysis to identify if there are key variables that aren’t being tracked. Map out forces that could impact fuel prices in the future, as well as other business trends that could benefit by having your fuel budget decrease. Then, perform another analysis to see which solutions best fit your needs.

If you have any questions about in-cab coaching with True Fuel® or would like to explore what  it looks like in action, contact us today.