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If your firm operates a fleet of vehicles, the costs will be a major concern. Running vans, trucks or even motorbikes is expensive. Furthermore, if your business revolves around travel or transportation, the efficiency of your fleet will have a major bearing on the success or otherwise of the company.

There are a number of things that can be done to improve the efficiency of a fleet and all must be considered by fleet managers.

Route Planning

One of the simplest ways of making your fleet more efficient is by ensuring that vehicles aren’t travelling unnecessary miles. This can happen for a number of reasons. If the day’s work is planned in advance, then the route needs to be as efficient as possible. If the vehicles in your fleet are responding to calls and therefore cover unpredictable routes, it is more about managing the fleet as a whole.

In the latter scenario, fleet tracking software will allow the fleet manager to know the whereabouts of all vehicles. This means that should a call need to be made to a particular address the manager can choose the nearest vehicle or the one travelling in the right direction.

Fuel Consumption

Another way of improving efficiency is by ensuring minimal fuel consumption. The route planning described above goes some way towards achieving this, but plenty more can be done.

The main influence on fuel costs will be the vehicles themselves. Quite simply, if you run inefficient vehicles, your fuel costs will be higher. For this reason, mileage per gallon should always be a major consideration when investing in new vehicles. Alternative fuel vehicles are increasingly popular for this year, particularly where measures such as regenerative braking help improve the efficiency of a conventional engine by supplementing it with another power source. Vehicles should also be an appropriate size. There is little point fueling a large truck if the work being carried out could be completed using a car-sized van.

Engines will also tend to become less efficient if they are not properly maintained, so vehicles will need to be checked from time to time. This is another situation where fleet tracking software comes in handy, because rather than having to make notes about every vehicle in the fleet, the software will keep constant records and can be set to notify you when maintenance is needed.

The major weapon in the battle against fuel costs is awareness. If you are aware of everything contributing to the efficiency of your fleet, you are well-placed to ensure good performance.

Gill Cartwright is a former fleet manager writing on behalf of www.chevinfleet.com/gb/fleet_management_software.asp