5 Ways to Use Fleet Telematics and Aerodynamics to Boost Fuel Efficiency

For leaders in the trucking industry, finding ways to improve the efficiency and sustainability of operations is a challenging yet essential task. With diesel prices at historical highs, efficiency is a key component influencing a fleet’s average trucking cost per mile.

One groundbreaking technology has emerged as a beacon of hope: fleet telematics. According to a recent study, fleet telematics can slash fuel expenses by 20-25%. With such high stakes, understanding and deploying telematics for fleets are no longer optional — they’re essential.

This article examines the benefits of fleet telematics and how optimizing aerodynamics can help lower consumption and reduce fuel costs.

What Is Fleet Telematics?

Telematics is an interdisciplinary field that melds telecommunications with informatics. Specifically, telematics for fleet management refers to using advanced technology and data analysis to monitor and manage a fleet of vehicles. From tracking a single truck’s location to monitoring the entire fleet’s performance, telematics provides unparalleled insights for fleet managers.

Using telematics, each vehicle in a fleet captures and transmits data via a network of connected telematic devices. The system can collect multiple data points, including the vehicle’s location, speed, idle time, harsh braking, and even tire pressure or engine health. Fleet managers can use this data to make more informed decisions.

What Are the Benefits and Challenges of Telematics for Fleets?

Fleet telematics offers numerous benefits beyond the obvious advantage of improved fuel efficiency. Telematics for fleets can improve safety and productivity while extending vehicle life. With the insights from telematics, companies can also significantly reduce operating costs, meet compliance requirements, and deliver superior customer service.

However, as with any significant change, integrating fleet telematics can present challenges. Upfront costs for equipment and software, the need for employee training, and the potential for data privacy concerns are all factors to consider. A careful plan can overcome these obstacles, resulting in substantial long-term benefits.

Why Does Aerodynamics Matter for Fuel Efficiency?

Vehicle aerodynamics refers to how air flows around a vehicle while it is in motion, and it plays a crucial role in vehicle performance and fuel economy. Trucks generate drag and air resistance as they travel, which means the engine uses more power to overcome the friction, thus consuming more fuel. Reducing friction with aerodynamic devices can improve fuel economy.

The optimization of truck and trailer aerodynamics can include a range of techniques, from retrofitting aerodynamic devices such as side skirts or roof fairings to advanced designs in new vehicles. Even a small effort, like maintaining optimal tire pressure, can positively impact a vehicle’s aerodynamic profile and improve fuel efficiency.

5 Ways Fleet Telematics Helps Improve Fuel Efficiency

Fleet telematics is more than a tool for simply tracking vehicles or measuring data — it’s a powerful resource for optimizing fleet operations. Telematics provides valuable insights into improving fuel efficiency and reducing operational costs. 

Here are five ways you can utilize fleet telematics to drive fuel efficiency.

1. Analyzing Vehicle Aerodynamics

Understanding and improving vehicle aerodynamics is key to optimizing fuel efficiency. The more aerodynamic a vehicle, the less fuel it requires to move forward. According to estimates, long-haul trucks traveling at highway speeds use around 85% of useful engine power to overcome aerodynamic drag. 

This is where fleet telematics steps in. It enables the collection and analysis of detailed data related to vehicle aerodynamics, including air resistance and flow patterns. Using these insights, operations managers can identify areas to reduce aerodynamic drag and measure improvements in data once changes have been made. The positive impact on the bottom line can be substantial, as even minor aerodynamic adjustments can yield significant savings over a vehicle’s lifespan.

2. Monitoring and Coaching Driver Behavior

It’s not only the vehicle’s design that affects fuel efficiency but also how it’s driven. Research suggests that driver behavior can reduce annual fuel consumption by up to 30%. Speeding, harsh braking, rapid acceleration, and excessive idling are some behaviors that can lead to increased fuel consumption. 

Fortunately, telematics systems collect data on driving habits and patterns, allowing fleet managers to analyze and identify areas of concern. This real-time information can then be used for coaching drivers, promoting safer and more fuel-efficient driving habits. The result is twofold: Not only does this lead to reduced fuel consumption, but it also promotes a safer work environment for drivers.

3. Minimizing Excessive Idling

Excessive idling is a hidden drain on fuel resources, with some estimates suggesting that a single long-haul truck can consume 3.6 gallons of fuel a day just by idling. At $4.50 per gallon, that’s $16.20 per day of wasted fuel. That adds up quickly over time and across an entire fleet, leading to a significant resource drain. Idling also contributes to engine wear and tear, further increasing operating costs. 

Thankfully, telematics systems can accurately track and identify instances of excessive idling. By pinpointing when, where, and why idling is happening, fleet managers can implement specific, effective policies or provide targeted driver training to minimize idling times. This proactive approach results in substantial savings, reducing fuel wastage and associated costs, and prolongs vehicle life by reducing unnecessary engine use.

4. Optimizing Route Planning

Routing inefficiencies, such as long detours and traffic congestion, can increase fuel consumption significantly. Reports estimate that traffic congestion alone increases the cost of freight transport by nearly $75 billion annually — an expense that both producers and consumers must bear. 

Telematics systems, however, can combat these inefficiencies. They provide real-time data on traffic conditions, road closures, and even weather conditions, thus allowing for dynamic route planning. Using this data to plan and optimize routes, fleets can avoid obstacles, streamline operations, and significantly improve fuel efficiency

Moreover, telematics systems allow fleet managers to monitor trucks in transit, enabling them to make route adjustments on-the-fly as necessary, further enhancing efficiency. In a business where time is money, the ability to quickly and effectively react to unforeseen circumstances on the road is invaluable.

5. Enhancing Vehicle Maintenance

A well-maintained vehicle operates more efficiently, consumes less fuel, and has a longer lifespan. Fleet telematics systems play an essential role in keeping trucks in optimal condition. They monitor vehicle performance parameters such as engine temperature, tire pressure, and brake condition and track maintenance schedules. They can also provide alerts for preventive maintenance needs and help identify potential issues before they become serious problems. 

In addition, proper installation and maintenance of aerodynamic devices are critical to achieving and maintaining improved fuel efficiency. Well-maintained aerodynamic devices continue to reduce drag and save fuel over the long haul, ensuring fleets reap the maximum benefit from their investment.

Reduce Fuel Costs and Improve Aerodynamics With Fleet Telematics

Fleet telematics and aerodynamics are powerful tools to improve fuel efficiency, enhance safety, and optimize operations. TruckWings is a simple solution to improve truck aerodynamics and optimize fuel efficiency. 

When driving speed reaches 52 mph, TruckWings deploys without driver intervention, closing the gap between cab and trailer and reducing downstream turbulence. Increased back-of-cab pressure makes the tractor-trailer more stable and fuel-efficient, resulting in 3 to 6% MPG savings.

Check out TruckWings or contact us if you’d like to learn more about how fleet telematics and improved aerodynamics can transform your trucking business.

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