Trucking transports over two thirds of the goods delivered in the United States to their destinations, and as an industry, the costs of running a fleet fluctuate widely based on the cost of fuel. As fuel prices remain at their high levels, companies are looking more urgently for ways to drive down trucking costs. These five strategies can all have an impact on the bottom line.
1. Fuel-Efficient Driving
Trucks don’t use a fixed amount of fuel per mile, and getting gas mileage as high as possible is a great way to cut costs. Drivers can use defensive driving techniques, like hitting optimum highway speeds based on their load and avoiding accelerating or braking quickly. Keeping the truck tuned up also affects fuel efficiency, and truckers can install high-tech systems that monitor tire pressure, use anti-idling technology and keep track of other factors that affect fuel efficiency.
2. Natural Gas Vehicles
Although the supply of oil in the United States is dwindling, scientists believe that we’re sitting on a gold mine of natural gas. The only problem is that trucks don’t run on natural gas unless they have engines specially designed for it. Solutions are emerging as companies make trucks with engines that run on natural gas more widely available and the country develops an infrastructure of refueling stations that supply natural gas. With a per-gallon cost of about $1.50 less than diesel fuel, this solution can significantly impact trucking costs.
3. Fleet Management
On a larger scale, trucking companies can reduce their overall costs by improving the efficiency of their trucks on the road as a whole. Implementing comprehensive fleet management solutions allows companies to keep better track of where their drivers are, see if they’re violating the hours of service rules, and make the driving experience as good as possible for drivers to help with employee retention. These all help save trucking operations money in the long run.
4. Insurance Claims
When a company has drivers in harm’s way all the time, insurance can be expensive. Making sure the fleet as a whole has the right type of insurance will lower costs by hitting the optimum balance of premiums and claims. Trucking companies should evaluate their workers compensation policy, make sure the drivers are classified correctly and educate drivers on the importance of safety on the road. In addition, encouraging drivers to make healthy food choices, quit smoking and take other medical precautions can reduce health insurance costs for everyone.
5. Decreasing Turnover
Recruiting and training new drivers and dealing with their liability on the road is another area where trucking companies spend a lot of money. By decreasing turnover, companies can increase in efficiency over time as their drivers, as a whole, become more experienced and loyal. Some strategies include recruiting young drivers, paying slightly above market wage and giving drivers a way to connect with one another to develop loyalty to their co-workers and the company as a whole.
Trucking isn’t going anywhere, and as oil supplies run low, the costs are only going to get higher. Taking steps now to lower costs will help trucking companies stay efficient and profitable into the future. That way, people will keep getting the goods they need at the price they’re looking for.