Playing The Fuel-Saving Strategy
Gas prices have been a hot topic in most industries for quite some time. However, it appears most operators are fixated on the price of the gas. Instead of focusing on fuel prices, a smarter strategy for construction contractors is focusing on ways to reduce fuel burn. The average cost of diesel in the U.S. at the start of 2022 was $3.72 a gallon. By June, it had climbed to a peak of $5.57 and then began to drop a bit. Currently, we are at $3.29 but rising. It’s a far cry from the good old days of December 2020, when diesel was averaging just under $2.59. Who knows what will happen to prices in the year ahead?
While our partner machines – Komptech and R. D. Olson are leaders in fuel efficiency, there are other ways to implement a smarter strategy for construction contractors. One is focusing on ways to reduce fuel burn. A key factor is how equipment is used and idle time is critical. Most construction equipment burns an average of one gallon an hour at idle. The good news about this is that it is easy to reduce idle time — and fuel consumption along with it.
Consider these steps to guide you into savings:
1. Educate your team. Fuel prices are hitting individuals hard, too. This topic is a great way to drive home idling. A good example is – Would they leave their car running while their family goes into a restaurant for dinner? A great idea to show potential savings and show trust is to share your fuel costs and idle information. This will help operators understand how their actions affect production and costs.
2. Reduce/limit warm-up time. It’s a challenge in the colder weather but three to five minutes at the start the beginning of the day is adequate. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). Any longer it’s just wasting fuel.
3. Shut them down on breaks and lunch. Operators may leave equipment idling during breaks – most likely to keep the cab at an ideal temperature. While comfort is important, there are less expensive ways to achieve it. One idea is to use “engine-off” cab heaters/coolers that reduce idling.
4. Know the “five-minute” rule. Do operators let the machines run for more than 5 minutes on average? You’ll use less fuel to restart it than to leave it running. Implement shutdown timers to automatically turn off machines after five minutes.
5. Limit cool-down time. Idling for two minutes at shift end (especially this time of year) allows most equipment to reach perfect shutdown temperatures. Most newer equipment comes with automatic shutdown features that control this time and process for the operator.
6. Make it automatic. Auto-idle or engine-idle management systems monitor equipment parameters and automatically reduce engine RPM to idle RPM or below normal machine idle RPM. That can reduce idle fuel consumption to less than one gallon per hour.
7. Monitor, measure and improve. Equipment telematics will show you operating hours by machine, by the operator, and even by job site. You can compare operating fuel burn versus idle fuel burn. With the data in hand, identify where to make improvements that will have the biggest effect on fuel bills and your bottom line.
While our machines are extremely fuel efficient, there is no way of controlling gas prices as they will continue to fluctuate due to supply, political conditions, and world events. But every owner/operator can reduce their cost and blunt the effect of fuel costs.
More information on all the Simplicity Engineering products and services can be found on www.SimplicityNE.com or by calling (800) 553-6190.