The American Trucking Association (ATA) states that over 70 percent of U.S. freight is moved by trucks. 38 billion gallons of diesel fuel are required every year to move over 10 billion tons of products. Proper fleet fueling management is the key to managing operational risks, maintaining healthy profit margins and encouraging environmental sustainability.
Establish and Enforce Policy
Managing anywhere from 10 to 100 trucks is naturally chaotic, so effective policies are needed to outline procedures and minimize risks. A fleet fueling policy should be clearly communicated to every permanent and temporary driver in the fleet. The policy should state that diesel fuel purchases are monitored and controlled, so repeated infractions and failure to obey may result in disciplinary action. However, be sure to include a clause that allows for emergency exceptions.
Document Work Procedures
Warehouse, transportation and supply chain organizations may not have ISO 9001 Standard Quality Procedures (SQPs), but there should be documented work guidelines that explain fueling rules. These documents should be read and signed by new drivers and by existing employees during their annual performance reviews. This provides legal protection, justification for terminations and helps to enforce fuel management controls.
It helps to specify the days, times and locations for fuel purchases. This will minimize multiple purchases in a single day. Most fleet managers restrict fueling transactions to two per day and set up the company card to automatically decline the third transaction. Chronic fuel purchases made outside of regular business hours are a sign of abuse and waste. When drivers purchase fuel after business hours, ensure that the volume doesn’t exceed the fuel tank’s capacity.
Every time a driver buys premium or mid-grade fuel, it may cost the company anywhere from 10 to 20 cents more per gallon. Establish the target fuel grade for each vehicle and have internal monitoring controls. Better yet, designate pre-approved fueling stations in each area that offer the best quality for the lowest prices. Encouraging drivers to prefer gas stations that offer biofuels supports environmental sustainability. Placing restrictions on the products that drivers may purchase with their fuel card, such as junk food and car washes, will help control costs.
As a final note, encourage drivers to buy fuel at places that offer pay-at-the-pump to reduce unapproved purchases inside the store and quickly get drivers back on the road.