Running a ‘greener’ fleet

Improving sustainability and delivering on the green agenda is a priority for the government, public sector and businesses large and small, so it is no surprise that service departments are being asked to play their part, says Mark Forrest.

For businesses that run a mobile workforce, reducing fuel use and therefore emissions can be a crucial step to a greener future and a place where a significant impact can be made in a reasonably short timeframe.

Recognising where emissions, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), can be minimised then taking action will allow businesses to make a tangible step towards environmental improvement.

A recent independent study amongst directors and senior managers operating large field-based work forces in the UK found that 64% felt that sustainability will have a significant effect on their business moving forward and, as a result, many are actively seeking out technologies that have a positive environmental impact, to help meet sustainability targets.

The ‘Green’ challenge

Today, approximately 280 million commercial fleet vehicles operate worldwide and are responsible for 5.75% of total worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, pumping 1.6 billion metric tons of CO2e into the atmosphere per year. This number of commercial fleets is expected to rise to 400 million by the year 2020.

Fleet management and telematics technology has come to the fore with solutions able to tackle the global emissions challenge and move the needle back in the correct direction.

Businesses are able to optimise schedules and route planning, helping to reduce unnecessary mileage and improve fuel efficiency and driver proficiency. By enabling companies to monitor fuel consumption, miles per gallon and CO2 outputs, the technology can ultimately help to reduce fuel use and improve a company’s carbon footprint.

Monitor and reduce fuel consumption

When looking to develop green credentials, monitoring and reducing fuel consumption through better insight in to vehicle usage can lead to significant decreases in CO2 emissions and is a quick, achievable method of reaching environmentally friendly targets. Many businesses already utilising fleet management and telematics technology have reported fuel savings of as much as 2 gallons per vehicle per day.

Additionally, promoting a safe driving culture through the implementation of driver safety solutions will result in a more efficient fleet. Driver safety solutions enable managers to monitor driving behaviour and complete back office analysis of aggressive manoeuvres, such as hard acceleration, braking, turns and speed.

Small changes in driver behaviour, vehicle condition and intelligent routing all make a significant difference to fuel use and can be controllable through driver education, better work scheduling and regular maintenance, servicing and even tyre pressure checks to minimise fuel wastage.

Achieve a meaningful ROI

In terms of costs, a telematics solution alone can generate ROI within 6-12 months, or less in some cases. A reduction in fuel bills is an immediate and obvious benefit, but the reduction of repeat visits, the improved visibility of the fleet and the increased operational efficiency will have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Additionally, recent research from the Carbon War Room identified the key commercial technologies that can have a positive impact on the environment in terms of reducing carbon emissions. It found that if just Class 8 truck operators were to adopt seven simple efficiency technologies, the trucking sector would save 624 million tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2022 – equivalent to the annual emissions of the nations of Spain and Thailand combined.

Mark Forrest is the general manager of field and fleet management firm Trimble Field Service Management (FSM)

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