Avoid These Common Mistakes When Tracking Your Fleet’s Fuel
At its heart, managing fuel is simple: if you know how much fuel your drivers need to refuel their vehicles, you know how much fuel you need in your tanks. But the devil of fuel management is in the detail, and there are a few common mistakes that organizations trying to manage their fuel make. Keep an eye out for these missteps, and you’ll be well on your way to managing your fuel costs and maximizing your fleet assets.
Lack of Communication
Nothing's more frustrating than mixed signals at work, and you cannot manage fuel properly if workers don't know what they should be doing or why. When it comes to managing fuel, your employees need to understand the following:
Where should employees go to fuel their vehicles?
When can their vehicles be filled?
What information should they be recording at each fill-up?
On top of this basic information, your employees need to know how to use the fueling equipment on your tanks. While basic tank setups may be intuitive, some fuel tracking and monitoring systems may require employees to undergo some basic training for efficient operation. The ‘how’ is as important as the ‘why’ – if employees don’t understand why they’re using a certain piece of equipment, they’re less likely to follow the steps they need to.
Clearly communicating your expectations, how fueling should be done, and why various fueling steps are important is a necessary part of successful fuel tracking and management. While added training may be a burden to plan and execute, the long-term benefits are significant.
Not Establishing Fueling Schedules
Depending on where and how you store fuel supplies, access to fuel can be variably easy or difficult at certain times of day. For example, if all of your drivers need to fill their vehicles first thing in the morning, they’ll probably be waiting at the pump for quite some time. To avoid unnecessary delays, fleet managers should implement fueling schedules, which can be enforced by the right fuel management system. A well-designed fueling schedule accomplishes two goals:
· Ensure fueling efficiency: fueling schedules help level out pump utilization over a longer period of time, decreasing the amount of time that any one driver has to wait to get fuel. Alternatively, fueling schedules can ensure that vehicles always have the fuel they need for the next shift.
· Standardizing fuel consumption: When drivers stick to an established fueling schedule, it’s easier to predict how much fuel you’ll need at any given time. You can use that information to schedule deliveries and better protect against running out of fuel at the wrong moments.
A filling schedule is important, but the unexpected can happen. Weather or traffic patterns may impact a driver's assigned route. The right balance between a strict schedule and making room for flexibility will depend on the individual organization.
The limits of a fuel schedule are best enforced by a smart fuel management system, which can be configured to permit fueling for specific drivers and vehicles at designated times. In addition, the right system will protect your fuel from theft because unauthorized people cannot access fuel tanks.
Ignoring Odometer Readings
Tracking vehicle milage alongside fuel use may require some additional work, but recording odometer readings when drivers get fuel allows you to track vehicle maintenance schedules and gauge fuel use. For example, if a driver is recording a high volume of fuel use for a vehicle that has only driven a few miles according to odometer readings, the vehicle is either malfunctioning or fuel is being misused.
Not Having Alerts
An unexpected spike in fuel use or an improperly recorded fuel delivery can derail even the most meticulous fuel inventory tracking. Without a low-level alert, you could find yourself out of fuel at an unexpected time and paying a premium on a rush delivery of fuel.
Save yourself that disappointment by using a tank monitor or fuel management system that monitors fuel levels and send automated alerts when fuel falls below certain thresholds.
Outdated or Un-updated technology
Smart fuel management systems can make monitoring and managing fuel supplies easy by automating manual processes and enforcing access rules. Keeping these systems updated with the latest software and fixes is a necessary step to ensure that these systems work as intended. While it can be a nuisance to update the software on some fuel management systems, cloud-based fuel management systems like FuelCloud can keep themselves updated automatically. In either case, the benefits of an automated system are well worth the small amount of extra work in keeping a system up to date.
How can hardware help?
The right Fuel Management System can make a huge difference in helping you avoid these common mistakes when tracking your fleet’s fuel. Compared to manually tracking fuel use with pen-and-paper records, a smart fuel management system can automate the heavy lifting of reconciling fuel use, eliminate opportunities for human error. Fuel Management Systems can also give you constant insight on fuel levels and employee fuel use, as well as managing inventory alerts and access schedules. If you’re not already using a fuel management system to monitor and manage your fuel, consider upgrading today and avoiding these common mistakes.