• ITVI.USA
    13,795.070
    81.410
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    26.560
    -0.120
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,740.380
    64.000
    0.5%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    -0.060
    -2.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.670
    0.130
    5.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.930
    0.280
    10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.320
    -0.020
    -1.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.040
    0.050
    1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.740
    0.050
    3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.210
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    108.000
    5.000
    4.9%
  • ITVI.USA
    13,795.070
    81.410
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    26.560
    -0.120
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,740.380
    64.000
    0.5%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    -0.060
    -2.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.670
    0.130
    5.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.930
    0.280
    10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.320
    -0.020
    -1.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.040
    0.050
    1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.740
    0.050
    3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.210
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    108.000
    5.000
    4.9%
AskWavesBusinessDriver issuesEquipmentFuelInsightsLast MileLess than TruckloadNewsParcelTechnologyTruckingTruckload

Top 10 ways to lower diesel fuel expenses for trucking companies

Fuel is the number two expense for every trucking company and one of the most volatile. Over the years, trucking companies have implemented various strategies to lower and control their fuel expenses. 

In recent years, carriers have found ways to mitigate and offset their fuel expenses. These are the top 10 methods trucking fleets use to lower their diesel expenses: 

  1. Driver Behavior and Practices
    • Reducing top-end speed and unnecessary idle time
    • Adopting of Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) on tractors
    • Implementing driver behavior coaching and incentive programs 
    • Encouraging the use of cruise control
    • Providing driver incentive programs to reward best practices
  2. Power Equipment
    • Using lower viscosity engine oils
    • Keeping equipment maintained, including tire pressure and rotation frequency and position
    • Running 6 X 2 drive axles where permitted
    • Adopting the aerodynamic equipment including wheel covers, gap reducers
  3. Trailing Equipment
    • Installing lift axles on trailers to reduce rolling resistance
    • Adopting the latest aerodynamic equipment including side skirts and trailer wings
  4. Equipment Specifications
    • Matching truck specification with the area of operation
    • Purchasing the latest fuel-efficient truck design
    • Install high efficient alternators
    • Installing the very latest in safety technology to minimize rapid decelerations and inconsistent speeds
  5. Fuel Purchasing
    • Implementing a fuel-surcharge program
    • Buying fuel on wholesale rack index-linked contract  
    • Negotiating discounts at truck stops or join a buying program
  6. Trip Planning
    • Pre-plan trips for drivers to optimize for:
      • Best price
      • Out of route miles; and 
      • What point on the route to fuel 
    • Buying fuel in locations with lower taxes 
    • Identifying the optimal time to fuel trucks at truckstops so that idling is minimized
    • Implementing a route-line fuel optimization solution 
    • Planning trip start/end times to avoid areas of high traffic congestion
  7. Customers
    • Working with shippers to decrease driver wait times to load and unload since delays of two hours or more results in drivers driving 3.5 mph faster decreasing fuel consumption in the process
  8. Business Intelligence
    • Implementing SONAR’s forecasted overnight change in ULSD- new to the market is a product that we developed at SONAR that provides a look forward of wholesale rack prices, giving fleets visibility on where diesel prices are forecasted to head, with 90% accuracy and down to the rack level. This solution, exclusively offered through SONAR, enables fleets to time their diesel purchases based on the expected change in diesel prices at the wholesale rack. 
    • The reason this works is that diesel prices at the wholesale rack are linked to trading activity that happens on the CME futures exchange and the time it takes for the prices to change by wholesalers. Wholesalers adjust their prices after trading activity is closed, allowing for SONAR to project where prices are to be the following day. Effectively, SONAR clients get to “arb” the diesel market.
  9. Corporate Culture
    • Successful carriers and independent contractors understand that one of the easiest paths to profitability is not spending money. Fuel, for many carriers, is the second-largest variable expense. Educating drivers and non-drivers on the importance of fuel economy to the sustainability of the business should be a primary objective. 
    • Provide incentives to improve fuel economy. A growing trend among carriers is the implementation of ‘Driver Scorecards’ to compare behavior and results to desired benchmarks. Utilizing MPG in these scorecards provide a direct feedback loop for drivers to understand how they are performing versus the rest of the fleet. Some carriers have went further and have provided financial incentives for achieving above average MPG, relative to their peers, under similar conditions.
  10. Weather
    • Adoption of the latest weather forecasting technology such as SONAR’s Critical Event Center that overlays extreme weather events on major interstates and freight markets. 
    • Integration of critical event data such as road surface conditions and ambient temperatures into route planning and navigation software to minimize driver delays to meet delivery and pick-up windows. 
Trucks fueling at a Love’s truck stop. (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

As announced yesterday, January 19, Forecasted Overnight ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) change and ULSD next-day price are now on available on the SONAR platform and free to current SONAR subscribers through Valentine’s Day. If you are interested in learning more about SONAR or the new Forecasted Overnight ULSD data-set, click here.


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Craig Fuller, CEO at FreightWaves

Craig Fuller is CEO and Founder of FreightWaves, the only freight-focused organization that delivers a complete and comprehensive view of the freight and logistics market. FreightWaves’ news, content, market data, insights, analytics, innovative engagement and risk management tools are unprecedented and unmatched in the industry. Prior to founding FreightWaves, Fuller was the founder and CEO of TransCard, a fleet payment processor that was sold to US Bank. He also is a trucking industry veteran, having founded and managed the Xpress Direct division of US Xpress Enterprises, the largest provider of on-demand trucking services in North America.

18 Comments

  1. Api’s suck they dont flow enough air to keep you cool and they dont run long enough to keep you warm and you cant sleep with the constant cycling vs the constant white noise of an idling engine. I fuel when I eat or pee or sleep. Regulate speed? Get rid of the eld that’ll help plus give us more time to get there plus more pay because it took longer and I lost a load because of it. And finally if some gender challenged social study office punk wants to dictate how the truck is run then he/she can get their bohonkas in the truck and do it themselves otherwise stay out of the drivers business.

  2. This article speaks of drivers lowering top speed, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. From what I see in the real world drivers routinely speed and drive faster than the posted speed limit. In my area where I-80 runs through NV the speed limit is 75 mph and it’s rare to see a semi going under 75, most run around 78-80 mph. Also in years past it would seem there were more courteous drivers. Today many are on the verge of road rage. As the demographic of drivers change, so does the quality of drivers.

  3. What a bunch of nonsense . Best way to lower your fuel cost is research ALL fuel cards and ask their discount prices. My card saves me about 600 dollars a month over cash price .

  4. Buy cheep fuel ,lower tax rate, I pay more in road taxes, change the led to 15 hrs ,do what I want, drive eat or goof off, mandate a 1 HR off. Split time, after 15 a9 HR off, none 0f this on duty bull, make it simple

  5. The biggest problem I see is time lost trying to find the customer, companies need to invest in accurate routing equipment, that would help with out of route fuel cost, the technology is here why not use it.

    Also governing a trucks speed doesn’t do anything but put rolling road blocks on a already crowded highway, 55 mph doesn’t save enough fuel to benefit anyone, just my opinion.

  6. All this is well and good for somebody that reads a book and a computer and hasn’t done it or been in a truck in forever.
    This company m with did all that he talks about here and we are getting worse fuel mileage than before. Went from 6.8 avg to 6 avg.
    What they don’t tell you is that engine life is less because the motor is working twice as hard and laboring longer necessary. Then they under spec tears and tranny making it worse .
    Seen this time and time again, because they assume everybody hauls an average weight of 25 to 30 k.
    This observation comes from being a company driver, owner operator , certified mechanic , and 52 years of driving and working on them.

  7. Thanks for explaining how the second highest expense for trucking companies is usually the fuel. Your advice to purchase wholesale fuel or find a program to join would be helpful. In order to do this, you’d probably want to research diesel suppliers to learn about what they have to offer and the quality of their services. It would probably be best to research diesel depots online to ensure you find one that works for the routes you drive and that has quality fuel.

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