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Best Practices in Reducing Government Fleet Fuel Expenses

The following article discusses how government fleets around the US are successfully managing and reducing fleet fuel expenses.  This Part One of a Series of Articles. Next to to depreciation, fuel is the second greatest public sector fleet expense. Municipal, county, and state fleets reveal their best practices in reducing fleet fuel expenses.

Identify underutilized vehicles and equipment with high maintenance costs

The City of San Antonio’s Fleet Management Department reviews fuel requirements and usage, vehicle mileage, and fleet maintenance costs to identify underutilized vehicles and unnecessary equipment with high maintenance costs with fleet tracking telematics equipment. San Antonio’s fleet is comprised of approximately 5,050 vehicles and equipment, mostly sedans (1,500) and specialized equipment (3,000-plus), including refuse trucks, trailers, and off-road equipment. The city has been successful in reducing the size of its fleet and when necessary purchase more fuel efficient fleet vehicles.

“In an effort to further reduce fuel costs and emissions, the City is currently evaluating the introduction of both E-10 (10-percent ethanol) and B-5 (5-percent biodiesel) fuels,” said Florencio Peña, fleet manager, City of San Antonio. “Compressed natural gas (CNG) is used to power 30 of the City’s side-loader refuse trucks, and propane has been used for several years to power both vehicles and equipment.”

Replaced outdated fuel card reader systems with an automated fuel fleet management system

The City of San Antonio’s Fleet Maintenance Dept. replaced a decade-old fuel card reader system with an automated fuel management system (AFMS) and fleet GPS management system. The automated fuel management system incorporates both hardware and software to track, monitor, and manage fuel inventory, fuel dispensing, and accounting and billing processes. The city’s fleet  no longer needs fuel cards, and has decreased the amount of time spent dispensing fuel, and implemented the transmission of vehicle driving data via radio frequency with a fleet management system.

AFMS hardware and dispensing equipment has also been installed on mobile fuel trucks. Improvements achieved through the implementation of the new system helps to reduce human error, duplicity, and technological inefficiencies by accurately reporting mileage, fuel inventory, and automatically links to the City’s fleet GPS management system.

The AFMS system increases auditing capabilities. The fleet fuel management system also has integrated security features as well as hardware that supports customer hands-free authorization for dispensing fuel and accurate data exchange between the vehicle’s onboard computer and the island kiosk through a local wireless transmission.

Often times, due to warranty and other reasons, many fleets utilize an early routine maintenance cycle rather than exceed the established interval. The AFMS eliminates early maintenance cycles and their associated unnecessary cost expenditures. Data is imported from the island computer, which contains AFMS data for each vehicle. The data is imported into a fleet GPS management program, resulting is an estimated savings of about 35 hours in monthly labor and overhead costs.

Fixed-Price Fuel Contracts for Fleets; Replaced obsolete Petro Vend system

The City of Chesapeake, VA routinely monitors fixed-price fuel contracts. The city fleet managers are poised to commit as soon as pricing is favorable for its 2,800-vehicle fleet (cars, light-, medium-, and heavy-duty trucks). George Hrichak, fleet manager, said to better manage fleet fuel expenses, fleet managers have negotiated an attractive daily Oil Price Information Service (OPIS)-plus contract to meet fuel requirements. Also, the city is replacing an obsolete Petro Vend system.

To be continued in Best Practices in Reducing Government Fleet Fuel Expenses – Part Two….