Idling is probably one of the most, if not the most, financially straining problems fleet owners and managers have to deal with on a daily basis. Commercial vehicles are always busy during the day and have overwhelming schedules with loading, offloading, documentation processes and the regular stops on their route. Fleet vehicles have to idle to perform some of these actions which are expected and included in the operation budget, however, the unnecessary and excessive idling caused by the drivers and poor route management can drive up the operational costs significantly.
From a business management perspective, idling is a completely preventable issue but in practice, it is almost impossible to enforce hundreds of drivers to stick to their designated routes and stop for resting purposes only. Breakdowns and unscheduled maintenance are acceptable reasons for a vehicle to stay idle when the engine is off but if the engine is running and a vehicle is stationary for extended periods of time, it will cause a myriad of problems throughout the fleet in the long run.
Luckily for business owners and field managers, the emergence of GPS-based fleet management systems provide them with a fighting chance to identify and eliminate all causes of idling. Reducing idle time by fleet vehicles is an achievable goal, but companies need the right management tools that will notify the field managers about the idling vehicles and make behavioural adjustments through training.
Imagine if you could lower your fleet’s fuel costs by up to 30% while making your vehicles more healthy. Fleet management systems are tailor-made solutions to face the challenges of a logistics operation and the idling issue is not an exception. There are several tools that managers can utilise to make drivers comply with the company policies and stop idling outside of occupational purposes. Regardless of the size of your business, major issues like idling pose a threat to the financial stability of a company and make you exceed your designated annual budget.
While it varies depending on the vehicle type, by effectively using the fleet management tools, business managers can save thousands of pounds per vehicle every year by simply eliminating idling. It is a bold statement and business owners might ask themselves how a GPS tracking system supported with advanced software can achieve all these proposed goals. Well, let’s take a look at the idling issue in detail and how fleet management systems help businesses solve a logistics company’s issues with unruly drivers and unexpected issues that await vehicles on the roads.
Primary Reasons For Idling
As the backbone of the fleet industry, drivers are irreplaceable and valuable assets. However, drivers are also the main source of the idling problem within the fleet companies. Whether it is optimal comfort or seen as necessary, drivers tend to leave their engine on for hours when they are resting or using the company vehicles for personal affairs. While commercial trucks have to idle due to business-related affairs, most of the time drivers keep the engine on for completely unnecessary and preventable reasons.
Idling at red lights and congested traffic points is a part of the routine for a fleet vehicle. With careful route planning and real-time traffic data, fleet managers can help their drivers avoid roads that are on maintenance and jammed due to high volume traffic. Even though it is inevitable from time to time for fleet vehicles to get stuck in traffic, lengthy waits can be avoided by planning ahead.
Mandatory Waiting Times
Certain cargo types require a temperate-controlled environment which demands the vehicle engine to keep running in order to preserve the necessary temperature levels. Perishable goods, livestock, pharmaceuticals and most of the food groups need to be either kept frozen or at a certain temperature to maintain their integrity. Loading and offloading times for massive shipments such as these may take hours at a time and naturally, it results in long periods of idling. Similar to this issue, there are always long lines at border crossings and processing points for commercial trucks. Drivers may have to keep their engines running for seasonal reasons or to move their vehicles up the queue.
There are a lot of myths about diesel engines that ramp up the already problematic idling times for commercial vehicles. Some of these are actually so wasteful and dangerous, they can lead to massive amounts of fuel waste and accelerated wear and tear on trucks. Maintaining a fleet vehicle is costly and idling just piles on the issue with increased damage to the vehicle components such as spark plugs, cylinders and exhaust systems. One of the biggest misinformation out there is that diesel truck idling does not cause that much fuel, this couldn’t be further from the truth. It is estimated that a commercial truck spends 1-gallon extra fuel for every hour the engine is left on. Another myth is that diesel exhaust is not a major problem for the environment. The air pollution issue is so severe in the UK that it is believed to cause 40.000 deaths every year.
Benefits of Eliminating Idling
By adopting effective measures against idling, fleet companies can paint a better public image by minimizing diesel emission exposure to the public. The world is on a fast track to transforming all energy systems to renewable and green and if your company is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, it will set an example for others while reducing fuel and maintenance costs. It is a win-win situation and an opportunity to generate more clients for fleet businesses.
For a business that burns massive amounts of fuel through its daily operations, eliminating or reducing idling is nothing short of a miracle. Resource management is a key part of fleet management and excessive idling increases the costs more than any other issue logistics companies have to deal with every day. Fleet management systems are a gamechanger considering the efficient methods they provide for business managers to create policies against idling. Lowering fuel and maintenance costs has a massive impact on fleet expenses. Not only can companies get ahead of their idling vehicle problems with GPS tracking solutions, but they can also reduce the engine wear and tear caused by unnecessary idling.
Idling is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with, companies that operate a vehicle fleet can utilise telematics and GPS data to generate individual driver performance reports. Fleet management software is an excellent tool to identify the drivers who are idling longer than their colleagues on the same routes and redundant stops they make along the way while the vehicle engine is on. Businesses can use this data to implement regulatory policies that will prevent this type of behaviour and train unruly drivers to comply with the company regulations.
Restarting your engine doesn’t burn more fuel than leaving it idling. In fact, idling for just 10 seconds wastes more fuel than restarting the engine. Experts recommend drivers to turn off their engines after 30 seconds as the engine ramps up fuel use and cause damage to engine components every second the vehicle is idle past that time. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is one of the many companies that is rewarded for their efforts in reducing idling. Driver training and incentives resulted in a reduction of 30% engine runtime to 10% for their fleet of 25 trucks. Their annual fuel usage was cut down by 7.000 gallons by eliminating the unnecessary idling and educating their drivers about the diesel engines and how they work.
How to Eliminate Idling
You are likely to find a success story at every company that integrates GPS-based fleet management systems into their infrastructure. The small investment businesses have to make for these sophisticated systems to pay for themselves in spades. There are numerous reasons for commercial vehicles to spend time idling such as waiting for passengers, stopping at border crossings, sitting in drive-through lanes or waiting for loading and offloading cargo. Most of these actions are easy to keep track of as they form a pattern over time and can be detected by analyzing route history data. However, drivers have a tendency to keep their engines running for various non-business related reasons and most of these actions goes undetected and unchallenged by their team leaders. Event alerts, driver and vehicle performance reports and maintenance alerts are among the many tools fleet management software offers for business owners and managers that can help reduce idling times and create policies that promote efficiency. As fleet owners and managers, you always look for ways to cut costs and raise the profit margins; while some of the costs can’t be avoided like fuel and repair bills, others can be mitigated or completely eliminated such as idling. As a major source of increased operational costs, idling can be a financial nightmare to handle, but GPS-based fleet management systems are a perfectly suited solution against this major issue with the effective tools they offer.