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Reducing Truck Idling and Increasing Fuel Efficiency With the Right Fleet Management Technology

Fuel expenses account for a large portion of a fleet’s operating costs. As a result, trucking companies are always looking for opportunities to increase fuel efficiency. While it is a necessary part of hauling freight, truck idling is also a prime target for cost cutting.

Idling is employed for a number of reasons, including to heat or cool a cab or sleeper berth, operate electronic devices like laptops and cell phone chargers, keep the engine warm, and prevent diesel from gelling. Some amount of “on-duty” idle time will be unavoidable, but it is possible to lower idling time across your fleet.

Here’s a look at the current equipment being used to reduce truck idling and increase fuel efficiency—and how fleet management software can provide even more of an edge.


Benefits of Reducing Truck Idling

Minimizing truck idling brings with it a whole host of benefits that can maximize performance and improve your bottom line. The following are just some of those advantages.

  • Conserve fuel and increase efficiency. As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, diesel prices have dropped across the U.S. While the price of fuel is difficult to predict, particularly in these tumultuous times, improving fuel efficiency will always contribute to increased profitability. By ensuring your drivers are taking the most direct routes to their destinations and arriving on time, you can avoid out-of-route miles and minimize truck idling while drivers wait for loads, ultimately improving fuel efficiency.

  • Reduce expenses. Fuel costs account for nearly 22 percent of a fleet’s total operating costs. By cutting down on fuel usage and ensuring drivers are spending as little time as possible waiting for loads or other necessary events, fleets can save money across the board. 

  • Meet federal, state, and local regulations. There is no single federal regulation covering idling in Class 8 trucks; however, there are numerous municipality, county, and state regulations that must be followed. The city of Madison, Wisconsin, for example, has a 5-minute idling limit, with some exceptions for extreme temperatures. Controlling truck idling across your fleet will enable you to avoid what can be a costly fine.

  • Reduce vibrations and noise inside the truck cab. Driver shortages and driver retention remain some of the top challenges facing the trucking industry. Reducing vibrations and noise can make drivers more comfortable and contribute to improved driver retention. 

  • Foster a more sustainable supply chain. The EPA has issued quite a few regulations limiting vehicle emissions. In addition to complying with these government-mandated regulations, some trucking companies are also seeking to cut emissions in order to further reduce their overall impact on the environment.

  • Potentially lessen wear and tear on truck engines. A number of manufacturers of idle-reduction equipment claim that these technologies can reduce fleet maintenance costs, although research is still being done on this topic.


Idle-Reduction Equipment

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) observes that, given the number of both “active” and “passive” idle-reduction systems currently available, trucking companies will need to weigh their options and come up with a combination of technologies that works best for the unique needs of their fleet.


That could include a mix of the following:

  • Fuel-operated heaters

  • Auxiliary power units

  • Diesel or electric APUs

  • Battery-powered HVAC systems

  • Automatic engine start/stop systems

For instance, a battery-powered HVAC system could be used in conjunction with a fuel-operated heater, along with additional complements. The HVAC system can provide heating, cooling, and electricity with the truck’s engine shut off and without a need for fuel. During a battery recharge, the fuel-operated heater can provide heat to a sleeper cab or truck engine. 


How Fleet Management Software Can Help

Anti-idling technology like fuel-operated air heaters will go a long way towards improving fuel efficiency; in fact, many fleets have already adopted some of these solutions. But the ultimate key to reducing truck idling lies with the drivers themselves. Are their working and resting conditions comfortable? Are they taking the most efficient route between each destination? Is there a holdup in your loading or unloading process that keeps their trucks idling for far too long?

Fleet management software and analytics can answer these questions—and more. With the right information, you’ll be able to make the best decisions for your fleet. Trimble’s fleet and vehicle management solutions provide you with real-time driver and vehicle performance data, including idle time, fuel efficiency, speed, and RPM. Taking it a step further, many fleets rely on proprietary statistical tools to predict  and measure how different variables—load, distance, idle rate, aerodynamics, vehicle age, driver behaviors and more—affect fuel economy. 

Armed with in-depth insight into the daily operations of your fleet, you’ll be primed to take action. Whether that means streamlining your load matching process, getting drivers onto more direct routes, or implementing new standards for driving behavior, your data-backed improvements will help reduce truck idling and maximize fuel efficiency across your fleet.


Fleet Management Software from Trimble

The transportation industry is under considerable pressure to perform and deliver essential supplies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As fuel prices continue to fluctuate and the future remains uncertain, improving fuel efficiency has never been more essential to continued success. 

Trimble is proud to offer fleet management software that will give you the information you need to make informed decisions about driver training, routes, and fuel usage. Reach out today to learn more—our experienced team is always happy to answer any questions you may have.