There’s a lot to think about when doing delivery work. In addition to the usual concerns about timings, reliability and costs, haulage companies and drivers also need to consider the environmental impact of their work. Too often, environmental issues pushed aside by other worries and can fall by the wayside, but there’s one major way you can reduce your ecological impact and cut costs at the same time. Read on for our top tips on how to reduce your fuel use.
Off the Road
Our first couple tips consider changes you can make in your off-road behaviour to improve your fuel efficiency. These can all come under the broader heading of maintaining your vehicle properly, but drivers should note the specifics too.
Check Your Wheel Alignment
Unless they’re involved in delivery work, regular driversalmost never have to consider the match-up between their vehicle and anything they might be dragging along. But hauliers use trailers every day. It’s important, then, to make sure that the wheels of your truck are aligned to those of your trailer. Poor alignment can wear tyres and strain axles. It also wastes fuel, as your truck has to work harder to drag a trailer that’s resisting.
Check Your Brakes
Again, this is something you should be doing anyway. Brakes suffer a lot of wear and tear out on the road and, in addition to being dangerous, poorly functioning brakes can drag on the wheels, decreasing efficiency. To avoid burning through fuel fighting your own brakes, get them looked over by a professional at least once a year.
Vehicles used in delivery workgo through a lot. Hundreds, even thousands of hours on the road add up and key components can become worn and stop working without warning. Regularly servicing your truck helps catch problems before they become too serious. Any number of issues that could be reducing your efficiency can be caught and fixed. What’s more, regular check-ups will also increase the amount of time your vehicle is usable, as it’s less time-consuming to make minor improvements than to fix big problems.
On the Road
Now, we turn to a few ways you can change your driving behaviour to improve efficiency.
Coasting – disconnecting from the engine and allowing momentum move you along – is the bane of many a learner driver’s existence. It seems to make so much sense as a way to conserve fuel. But driving tests frown upon it, so many instructors simply tell students to always avoid it.
A job doing delivery work usually means you’re a professional, with enough driving experience to know how and when to coast safely. You should still be careful, though, as you’ll have less control over your truck. But easing down hills with just a brake can dramatically reduce fuel costs.
If your company or exchange has booked you alongside a few other trucks, they’ll hopefully have thought to put you in a convoy. Lining up at a close but safe distance from the truck in front will massively reduce wind resistance. And, because you’re not pushing against the wind, you’ll use noticeably less fuel to go the same distance.
Even if you’re out on your own, you can still use the same principles to minimise wind resistance – just try to get behind another truck to get out of the wind. You’ll start seeing benefits with as much as 100m distance to the truck in front.
Finally, you can increase efficiency while on the job by simply switching your engine off if you’re stopped for more than about half a minute. Although some people think idling is the best way to warm up your truck’s engine, or that it takes less fuel than stopping and starting, it’s very rarely beneficial at all. Even with the wait-times unavoidable in delivery work, you’re best off powering down if you’re stopped.
Follow these top tips, and you should notice savings very quickly. This will help keep you and your company competitive, while also reducing your environmental impact. Not bad for some simple tricks.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching delivery work with available drivers. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.