In the energy markets, all sorts of unpredictable happenings – including natural disasters, world crises, weather interruptions, political upheaval, refinery shutdowns, and pipeline failures -- can send fuel prices on a roller coaster ride and adversely affect operations.
In mid-October, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its annual winter outlook for December through February, and the good news is that a mild winter with drier conditions and above-average temperatures could be in store for much of the United States.
The key word, however, is “much.” The outlook for the Southeast, East Coast and Mid-Atlantic is not quite as rosy, with the amount of precipitation expected to be above average and the chances of colder-than-normal temperatures greater than anywhere in the country.
This means — especially for those regions — that snow, ice and freezing temperatures can present numerous challenges for utility fleets. Since winter hazards are not out of the picture this year, neither should your preparations be for winterizing your vehicles and equipment.
Tags: Emergency Fueling
Fleet managers are tasked with numerous responsibilities that cover a broad range of areas. With costs in many of these areas growing and a fleet manager’s value often measured by how well they control or reduce costs, knowing how to develop and control a budget is key for both a fleet manager’s success and a well-run, efficient fleet.
A Sound Budget Is a Fleet Managers Best Friend
When thoughtfully developed and implemented, a fleet budget can have a significant financial impact on overall fleet operations. It can help fleet managers plan for expenses, manage assets and funds more effectively, analyze expenditures and identify areas for improvement — all of which can help control and reduce costs and boost the all-important bottom line.
When carefully planned and implemented, a fuel card program can provide numerous benefits to fleets of all sizes, including reduced costs, streamlined operations, improved efficiencies and a boost in productivity.
But the key to the development process and to an effective program is “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.” Hastily implementing a program with little thought or attention to detail will reap few if any long-term benefits and could even cause problems down the road.
There’s no question about it — fleet managers understand how important safety is to their fleet and overall operations, and, therefore, do everything they can to make safety a top priority.
But, despite fleet managers’ efforts, accidents still occur every day, many of which are caused by unfavorable weather conditions or from drivers behind the wheel of poorly maintained or ill-equipped vehicles.
While nothing can be done to improve the weather, there is plenty fleet managers — highly effective fleet managers — can do to improve their vehicles and make them safer. One is performing routine maintenance and staying on top of repairs. Another is implementing vehicle safety technologies.
The average number of car accidents in the U.S. is 6 million every year. By outfitting current vehicles or purchasing new vehicles equipped with safety technologies, fleet managers can positively impact that number, improve safety and boost their bottom line.
There are numerous strategies that fleet managers implement to conserve fuel. Idle reduction, preventative maintenance, outfitting vehicles with aerodynamic devices and monitoring driver behavior are likely the ones that first come to mind.
The driver shortage is a top challenge and concern among fleet managers, and, unfortunately, it’s a situation with no real end in sight. In fact, it’s growing year-over-year and increasingly shrinking the driver labor pool.
With fuel costs accounting for approximately 30% of a fleet’s total operating costs, finding fuel management strategies that maximize fuel economy and reduce fuel costs should be a top priority for both fleet managers and key players, whether the fleet is comprised of a few or a few hundred vehicles.
If you’re looking to control costs — and what fleet manager isn’t — finding ways to reduce excessive idling should be one of your top priorities. Excessive idling is a huge fuel waster that gives you zero miles per gallon, increases maintenance costs and produces pollutant emissions that are harmful to the environment and to the health of your drivers. Plus, in many jurisdictions, excessive idling is illegal, with hefty fines for a violation.
There are various reasons for drivers allowing an engine to idle, including warming up or cooling down the interior of the vehicle, operating emergency lighting or radios, warming up the engine, powering off-board equipment, processing paperwork, talking on the phone, and loading/unloading.
It’s summertime and while the livin’ may be easy, as for the driving, well, that can be another story entirely. In fact, summertime driving can be downright dangerous.
For starters, with Americans packing up the car and traveling to summer vacation destinations, there’s more traffic than usual on the roadways. More traffic means more congestion and a greater chance of accidents.
And then there’s the weather.
Summer brings an abundance of steamy, sticky days and unsettled weather patterns that can ramp up the potential for torrential afternoon
thunderstorms that strike with little warning, limit visibility, and boost the chances of one of the most common causes of traffic accidents: hydroplaning.