Even though retail diesel prices have fallen from the record levels set earlier this year, they remain among the largest expenses facing trucking fleets.
As pump prices soared, many carriers took a closer look at fresh ways to further maximize vehicle efficiency and productivity. Streamlined route planning and top-notch maintenance programs can provide big boosts in these areas.
Though often overlooked, improving truck driver behavior packs a punch when it comes to maximizing fuel efficiency. Research shows up to 30% of fuel consumption comes from decisions drivers make on the road.
“Driver behavior is a huge factor in fuel efficiency,” said Zahi Mitri, vice president of innovation and technology at Challenger Motor Freight. “You can invest in the best equipment, but that means little if you don’t have great tools to help the drivers improve their driving techniques.”
Challenger, based in Cambridge, Ontario, is among the many fleets partnering with ISAAC Instruments to optimize fuel efficiency through a myriad of different techniques, including real-time, in-cab driver coaching. The tool, called ISAAC Coach, provides drivers with easy-to-understand instructions to help them burn less fuel.
“The ISAAC Coach collects more than 40 parameters [up to 100 times a second] from the truck’s data network. This data is analyzed and transformed into simple indicators that appear on the in-cab tablet,” according to a recent ISAAC blog post. “The system calculates potential fuel savings versus actual fuel usage, based on data such as the truck’s gear ratio and accelerator pedal pressure percentage.”
The system provides drivers with actionable guidance in three key areas:
- How much pressure to apply to the throttle to maximize fuel efficiency
- When to change gears
- Whether or not to use cruise control
According to ISAAC, real-time coaching can save carriers up to 15% in fuel costs. This could amount to as much as $10,000 per truck annually. ISAAC broke these possibilities down in a recent white paper, and fleets can get a better idea of their individual savings potential by using the company’s fuel savings calculator.
It isn’t all about corporate profits, though. Decreasing fuel consumption also offers powerful benefits for driver earnings, safety and the environment.
“We have been using ISAAC Coach to support our drivers and improve their earnings, while also helping the environment and helping us control our costs, since 2019,” Mitri said. “It is truly a triple bottom-line success.”
Challenger has noticed a correlation between safety and fuel efficiency—and the company is collecting the data to prove it.
“We have seen that our most fuel-efficient drivers tend to also be our safest—and best performing overall—drivers,” Mitri said. “We are working with the Traffic Injury Research Foundation here in Canada to prove this with our data and others.”
It makes sense that a fuel-conscious driver would also be a safer driver, as many of the behaviors that cut down on diesel burned also promote better driving habits. Drivers are less likely to zone out when they are focusing on things like throttle pressure and gear shifts.
At Challenger, the most fuel-efficient (and safest) drivers are rewarded for their efforts. The fleet can more accurately reward top drivers because the ISAAC Coach only evaluates performance based on factors they control.
“The drivers are incentivized to get a higher ISAAC [Coach] score,” Mitri said. “So, in a way, they have successfully enabled us to gamify fuel efficiency. It’s a win for us, the driver and the environment.”