Fleet and transport operators are under massive pressure to contain operating costs as much as possible to offset the steadily increasing price of diesel fuel.

Fleets have no control over national fuel prices so, looking beyond the fuel pump is where a fleet manager can make an actionable difference.

“FAW Trucks is, and always has, been cognizant of the need to provide fleet owners with a range of vehicles that maximise the total cost of operation in their respective categories,” says Yongjun Li, CEO of FAW Trucks South Africa.

“Right from the design stage, FAW engineers carefully marry the engine power and performance to the design specifications of the actual vehicle to ensure the right fit for the job with maximum efficiency and our performance in the recent Focus Truck Test 2022 backs this up.

“However, besides having the right vehicle for the job, there are a number of things fleet managers can do to try and keep costs down.”

FAW Trucks has compiled a list of solutions.

1. Driver Comfort

The driver has the biggest impact on fuel use. A driver sat in an uncomfortable cab will not be thinking fuel saving while trying to get the journey over with as quickly as possible.

“Driver comfort is something we build into all our trucks,” says Yongjun Li. “For example, our JH6 28.500FT is a full floating extended high roof cab with innovative flat floor design for optimal comfort and offers a Sleeper Cab with air-conditioning, radio with USB and a suspension seat.”

“Our 8.140FL comes standard with a full air dual circuit WABCO braking system with ABS, air-conditioning, radio and MP3 player with USB.”

2. Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance programs can help keep vehicles operating at optimal efficiency. While this may sound obvious, scheduling vehicle maintenance can go a long way to save money on fleet fuel. Vehicle servicing improves fuel use by ensuring all components function properly and efficiently. Also, it identifies and fixes any issues before they thwart fuel efficiency.

A task as simple as checking and adjusting a vehicle’s tyres boosts fuel efficiency by up to 3%, according to the US Department of Energy.

“A huge part of our heritage is FAW Trucks’ reputation for strength, reliability, ease of operation and value for money. This goes hand in hand with our focus on providing customers with dedicated service and support of the highest quality,” Li continues.

Today, FAW Trucks has more than 29 dealerships and service centres located around the country and continues to cater to the unique needs of local customers by providing vehicles that are built in South Africa, for Africa.

3. Manage Driver Behaviour

Over and above training, driver behaviour can cut fuel spend by 5% to 10%. For example, drivers should adhere to speed limits for optimal fuel efficiency – at 120 km/h, a truck can use 27% more fuel than one travelling at 100 km/h.

Promote safe driving, possibly through a reward system – avoiding reckless, distracted and erratic driving reduces fleet wear, accident risk, and fuel costs. For instance, eliminating engine idling, especially heavy-duty trucks, can save fleets significant amounts each year.

FAW Trucks is committed to ensuring operating efficiencies throughout its vehicle range and constantly compares the figures it achieves against other comparative brands.

4. Telematics

Telematics play an essential role in giving fleet managers and their drivers greater insights into operations by identifying and correcting costly driver practices.

“By implementing programs, fleet managers can help detect and improve driver behaviours such as speed control, idle reduction, harsh braking, and route optimisation — all of which impact fuel usage,” says Yongjun Li.

Critical to the whole process of optimising efficiencies is getting the company drivers on-board with the process – and, equally important, having the whole of the management team of the company buy-in to the programme. “The goals must be actionable and achievable by drivers and must be fair and clearly understood. There should be a positive impact, as well. Actions needed by the drivers cannot negatively impact their ability to deliver freight and provide great customer service. By offering driver incentive programs tailored to the fleet, fleet managers can reward positive driver behaviour, effectively encouraging them to follow efficient fuel practices,” says Yongjun Li.