Fuel Tracking 101: Everything You Need to Know
Whether you’re a fleet manager or a professional driver, it’s easy to become tired of the endless paper slurry of fuel receipts and expenses. Aside from being a hassle to manage, dealing with these on the road can mean relying on rough estimates to keep your budget in check. It’s time to take the upper hand on your fuel efficiency and learn some tricks to track fuel consumption. And fuel tracking is here to help you do just that.
Fuel tracking may not sound like the most exciting topic, but it’s a crucial part of fleet management that can make or break your business's success. By tracking fuel usage, you can monitor your fleet vehicle’s performance and identify any inefficiencies, saving you time and money down the road.
So buckle up and grab a coffee––this article will provide you with essential information to make informed decisions about your fleet’s fuel efficiency.
What is Fuel Tracking?
Fuel tracking systems are the ultimate answer to how to track fuel consumption. It’s a way to monitor, record, and manage fuel consumption within a fleet of vehicles while keeping tabs on your fuel costs and vehicle performance. Whether using GPS tracking-enabled devices, fuel sensors, or a fuel card management system, fuel tracking allows fleet managers greater visibility and control over fuel economy.
Think of it like having a personal assistant who ensures you get the most out of your gas and diesel.
Fuel tracking involves:
- Recording fuel prices
- Measuring fuel consumption
- Analyzing fuel usage data
Plus, real-time fuel monitoring provides fleet managers with precise data about fuel usage and costs that can be accessed from their phones or anywhere with an internet connection. This technology creates more flexibility and freedom for fleet managers, allowing them to make more informed decisions while also finding areas for improvement.
Why is Fuel Tracking Important?
A fuel management system is a critical aspect of overseeing a fleet. Aside from driver wages and benefits, fuel is the greatest expense for most fleets, at about 24 percent of the total cost 1. Using resources efficiently should be the goal for every fleet manager, which includes reducing costs wherever possible and maximizing fleet performance.
Thanks to GPS tracking software and advances in telematics, monitoring fuel costs has never been more manageable and efficient. But if you’re on the fence about implementing a fuel tracking system into your fleet, here are some benefits to consider:
Theft or Fraud Prevention
Fuel is one of the most vital factors in grossing profit in the fleet industry, so knowing how to prevent gas theft is key. Unfortunately, theft and fraud happen more often than you’d like to think and can create severe problems for a business.
Theft or fraud can range from fuel skimming or odometer tampering to unauthorized purchases or even reporting inaccurate fuel consumption. And this is only naming a few.
But on the bright side, a fuel-tracking system can help you monitor and pinpoint all fuel transactions down to the driver, time, and place. Having such information at your disposal can help identify these situations and reduce future risks.
Refined Fuel Efficiency
Tracking vehicles and routes can give businesses the data sets they need to make more informed and cost-effective decisions. For example, utilizing a fuel level tracking system can help you identify the following:
- Fast drivers – Driving too fast often leads to heavy braking, which can result in poor fuel economy. In fact, gas mileage diminishes significantly above speeds greater than 50 mph 2. So maintaining the speed limit is not only safer, but it will also save you money down the road.
- Inefficient routes – Tracking a driver’s fuel level can also help identify effective routes and help you develop a truck route planning system. Many things, including terrain, can affect fuel consumption. For example, maybe a driver was used to taking the scenic route and never cared or thought about how those long and winding mountainous roads would burn significantly more fuel than, say, another more direct or less-trafficked route.
- Idling – Not only is idling bad for the environment and even illegal in some states, but it’s also probably eating a big chunk of your profits. The average long-haul truck will idle roughly 1,800 hours per year, using nearly 1,500 gallons of diesel. But this is not limited to rest stops. The dwell time at pickup and dropoff points can waste almost 3.6 gallons of fuel each day, upwards of $15.00 daily 3.
Reduced Maintenance Costs
A fuel tracking system can help you prevent greater costs by spotting problems early on. For example, by monitoring fuel consumption, you can detect changes in fuel efficiency, which may indicate an underlying engine problem.
Fuel tracking can also help you stay on top of routine fleet vehicle maintenance based on fuel consumption and other factors. This allows you to schedule maintenance appropriately, reducing the likelihood of unexpected breakdowns and associated costs.
Streamlined Bookkeeping and Payroll
Why get caught up in a flurry of old-fashioned papers and receipts when all of your transactional information can be streamlined using one platform? Here are a few ways that digital fuel tracking can significantly streamline bookkeeping and trucking payroll processes for fleet managers:
- Automated fuel logs – Fuel logs are automatically generated and updated, eliminating the need for manual entry and reducing the risk of human error.
- Fuel cost tracking – Receive real-time information on fuel costs, allowing fleet tracking managers to keep track of expenses and make informed decisions about their budget. This ultimately makes it easier to reconcile fuel costs with other expenses.
- Improved invoicing – With up-to-date and accurate fuel cost information, generating invoices and moderating client payments is easier while reducing the time and resources required to manage invoices and payments.
In addition to fuel monitoring, you can also use software to automate your tax information, making it quicker, easier, and more manageable than ever.
How Can You Optimize Fuel Tracking?
Optimizing fuel tracking is about finding ways to maximize your fuel resources, save cash, and keep your fleet running smoothly. Now that you understand the basics of fuel tracking and some of its perks, here’s the lowdown on some tips for making that happen:
- Fuel efficiency analysis – With all this information available at your fingertips, aim to regularly monitor fuel usage for efficiency and identify areas for improvement, such as optimized route planning and reduced idling time.
- Monitor driver behavior – Telematics systems can provide a wealth of data, including driver performance. Use telematics to monitor driver behavior and identify any habits contributing to excessive fuel consumption, such as speeding or making excessive stops.
- Maintenance tracking – Regular maintenance and proper tire inflation can improve fuel efficiency. Keep maintenance and tire pressure records, and use this information to identify trends or patterns affecting fuel efficiency.
- Fuel purchase management – Centralize fuel purchasing and establish controls, such as identifying cost-saving opportunities, comparing suppliers, and making sure fuel is purchased promptly and efficiently. Doing so ensures that all fuel purchases are made at the most cost-effective locations along the most optimized routes.
- Track fuel cost – Keep detailed records of fuel costs and monitor changes in fuel prices to ensure you’re purchasing fuel at budget-friendly times. Also, consider comparing them to the previous year’s expenses to identify any trends that may assist you with maintaining the year’s budget.
- Encourage driver accountability – Driver accountability is an important aspect that can help improve fuel efficiency. For example, set clear expectations and guidelines with your drivers, create incentives and rewards for drivers who demonstrate good fuel efficiency, and offer driver feedback regularly to reinforce good driving habits. You’d be surprised how implementing a few of these strategies can improve driver performance.
- Data analysis – Regularly analyzing fuel consumption trends, driver performance, route optimization, vehicle performance, and cost analysis is absolutely vital to a fleet manager’s ability to make data-driven decisions that aim to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
By using these tips, fleet managers may be surprised by how much they can save on cash, identify areas for improvement, and maintain a more accurate picture of fuel consumption across the board. But more importantly, you’ll be able to keep your fleet running like a well-oiled machine. Happy tracking!
AtoB: Making a Difference on Your Bottom Line
Fuel tracking is a critical aspect of fleet management that comes with many benefits. For drivers and fleet managers alike, fuel tracking can help you monitor fuel usage and costs in real-time. Plus, it allows fleet managers to make informed decisions, improve fleet efficiency, help detect theft, and ensure compliance with fuel regulations.
If you’re wondering how to keep track of fuel expenses or make your fleet more profitable and secure, let AtoB make a difference for your bottom line. AtoB’s fuel cards offer competitive discounts on fuel and beyond. They’re accepted nationwide and come with a spend management system allowing you complete transparency on every penny you save and spend.
AtoB also helps prevent card misuse by giving you control over merchants, spending limits, and operational hours. Unlock a host of specialized features with AtoB Premium and bring ease and efficiency closer to your fleet today.
1 ATRI. An Analysis of the operational Costs of Trucking. https://truckingresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/ATRI-Operational-Costs-of-Trucking-2019-1.pdf
2 U.S. Department of Energy. Driving More Efficiently. https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/driveHabits.jsp
3 U.S. Department of Energy. Long-Haul Truck Idling Burns Up Profits. https://afdc.energy.gov/files/u/publication/hdv_idling_2015.pdf