Unveiling the Secrets of Fuel Efficiency: How Gulf Relay Drivers Lead the Way

Ever heard the saying, “It burns more fuel for diesel trucks to turn them off and on, so just leave it idling?” Well, we’re here to debunk that myth once and for all. In this blog, we’ll dive deep into the world of fuel efficiency, comparing the most and least fuel-efficient drivers among our fleet and revealing the impact of conservation and driving practices on avoidable fuel costs. We’ve seen this reduce costs to our bottom line and we know this will help you as well in your operations. Whether you are a driver or a company, simple tweaks to reduce idle time can mean more money in your pocket. 

Finding Inefficiencies: A Quest for Optimized Operations

In Q3 of 2023, our team embarked on a mission to uncover solvable inefficiencies across all our operations. One glaring issue we identified was our fleet’s high idle average, resulting in substantial fuel waste. While a single truck idling for a few hours may not seem significant, multiply that by our fleet of 250 trucks running five days a week, and the costs quickly add up. However, with concerted efforts to decrease idle times, Gulf Relay has managed to save an average of $800* a day in fuel costs during February alone.

When we looked at all our historical data in November 2023, our average idle percentage as a company was 55%. Our 2024 goal for optimizing fuel expenses is to lower our average idle percentage to 33%. So far (from November 2023 to February 2024), we’ve brought our idle average down to 43%.

Driver Education: The Key to Success

While our maintenance team played a part in adjusting idle settings, the real champions of fuel efficiency are our drivers. Through driver education and awareness initiatives, we’ve empowered our drivers to take control of their fuel consumption. By highlighting the financial and operational benefits of reducing idle times, we’ve garnered widespread support from both owner-operators and company drivers.

Strategies for Success: Practical Tips for Idle Reduction

Below are the scorecards of our two highest-performing drivers (Driver Sample A). When these reports were pulled a couple weeks ago, Driver 1’s average idle percentage was at 11.49% and Driver 2 was at 9.8%.

Moving on to our two lowest-performing drivers (Driver Sample B), Driver 3 had an average idle percentage of 75.6%, and Driver 4 had an average idle percentage of 84.72%. (Shown below)

We know, after speaking with these drivers and viewing their scorecards, that there are some clear ways to improve their fuel usage.

Let’s take a closer look at the strategies employed by our top-performing drivers to achieve remarkable fuel efficiency:

Cruise Control & Optimal Speeds

While cruise control may not always be the best option, maintaining optimal speeds is crucial for reducing fuel consumption. According to the Department of Energy, speeding increases fuel consumption, making it imperative for drivers to plan their trips around slower driving habits to maximize fuel savings. Various vehicles reach optimal fuel economy at different speeds, but an overwhelming majority of all vehicles find decreased gas mileage after they reach 50 miles per hour.

The scorecard data above shows that the top performing drivers used cruise control more often than Sample B drivers, but – as previously stated – cruise control isn’t always best. In our case, being located in a region with little elevation change, using cruise control is great. For drivers on hilly roads or urban areas with many stops, cruise control isn’t the best option. Maintaining speeds in general, though, is what will decrease fuel consumption.

Intelligent Use of APUs

A majority of our trucks come equipped with APUs, offering a 50% decrease in fuel consumption compared to running the engine for heating, cooling, and electronics while the truck is parked. By intelligently using APUs and opting for electric models where possible, drivers can further minimize fuel waste and maximize efficiency.

Powering Down at Stops

Turning off trucks and APUs while stopped at docks significantly reduces idle fuel consumption. Top-performing drivers exemplify this practice, using only a fraction of the fuel consumed by less efficient drivers during intertrip idle periods. Moreover, some drivers go the extra mile by keeping their trucks and APUs off overnight, leveraging alternative heating solutions to stay comfortable without sacrificing fuel efficiency.

Conclusion: Driving Towards a Greener Future

At Gulf Relay, we’re committed to operating as efficiently as possible while providing comfort and stability to our drivers and staff. By reducing fuel waste, we not only save costs but also contribute to environmental sustainability. Decreasing fuel waste is a win-win for carriers and drivers. Carriers save money on fuel costs and they are able to haul for companies who have emission requirements for their vendors while doing their part in cutting down their overall carbon footprint. Drivers save time by not stopping to refuel, are typically paid more for their efficient driving practices than their peers, and get more freight to haul since the company they drive for is an eligible carrier for environmentally conscious shippers. 

Together, with our drivers leading the charge, we’re driving towards a greener, more efficient future—one idle hour at a time.

*The $800/day total savings account for load count disparities month over month and overall miles traveled.

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