Fuel-saving innovation in the freight sector
For a sector very much reliant on getting from A to B as efficiently as possible, there are huge opportunities for freight companies that can effectively leverage fuel-saving innovations. In an industry being watched by emissions-cutting lawmakers and where fuel comprises around a third of operating costs, doing so directly translates into cold, hard savings.
But what are the innovations currently sweeping the sector that have the potential to save fuel in the haulage industry?
The aerodynamic performance of a vehicle has direct effect on its fuel performance – according to researchers at RMIT University, 52% of the fuel used to keep a large commercial vehicle travelling at 100 km/h is used to overcome aerodynamic drag.
To improve this performance, hauliers can use side skirts, cab-trailer gap fillers and front fairings to improve the aerodynamic performance of their vehicles. Research shows that a vehicle with all three of these can reduce drag by up to 26% and even just a cab fairing can lower this by 17.6% - a huge improvement in fuel efficiency for a relatively inexpensive truck modification.
For any vehicle, incorrect tyre pressure can have a noticeable effect on fuel economy. When tyres are flat, the level of rolling resistance with the road increases, meaning the engine must work harder, but keeping tabs on tyre pressure can be time consuming.
That’s where tyre monitoring systems come in. A recent innovation, these comprise a suite of sensors attached to each wheel. They can monitor whether a tyre is at too low or high a pressure, and whether it is overheating or has a puncture, alerting the driver or fleet manager when an issue needs fixing.
Improving driving styles can have a beneficial effect on improving fuel economy, and an emerging way to do this is through the use of Driver Behaviour Indicator (DBI) systems. These systems monitor a range of driving behaviours, including speed, acceleration, cornering, idling, clutch, braking and more, and indicate to the driver when their driving is dangerous or inefficient.
The data can then be saved and reviewed by fleet managers, who can use the data to evaluate drivers’ performance and help them adopt more fuel-efficient driving behaviours.
Oils and additives
Simple solutions that are becoming well-established in the haulage sector, premium lubricants and oil additives can go a long way to improving fuel efficiency. Total Excellium fuel additive, for instance, has been shown to improve fuel consumption in commercial vehicles by up to 5%, while Total Rubia TIR Fuel Economy engine lubricants, developed to Euro VI engine standards, have also been shown to increase energy efficiency in engines, lowering fuel consumption as a result.
By installing telematics systems in cabs, it’s possible to create logs of the routes taken by drivers, often in real-time. Using this data, managers can then analyse which routes are the most efficient, leveraging this to improve fuel efficiency across the fleet, particularly on regular routes. What’s more, some systems allow managers to view real-time date – perfect for optimising fuel efficiency in trucking operations.
Improve vehicle reliability
Particularly useful for trunking freight operations, improvements in vehicle reliability have the potential to optimise fuel consumption – a worn and inefficient engine will often burn more fuel. While regular check-ups are a good way to ensure this, using oil analysis services like Total ANAC can be a more cost-effective solution.
By analysing an engine’s oil, and comparing it to over 4 million previous analyses, ANAC can ascertain whether certain parts of the engine are worn, helping repairs to be perfectly tailored.
The methods above can drastically reduce fuel use in freight operations, improving profitability all round. For information on how Total can help your business improve its fuel efficiency, visit the Products & Services part of Total Truck Solutions and comment on our Facebook page with your suggestions.