According to Australia’s leading truck insurance provider, National Transport Insurance, there are over 500,000 registered trucks in Australia which cover over 17 billion kilometres a year. With the Australian trucking industry revenue set to hit $60 billion by 2020/21 and operators have spent 45 to 50% of their revenue on fuel in the past (during periods of high crude oil prices), the importance of controlling fuel costs can’t be overlooked. In fact, it can be the difference between profit and loss for players in the trucking business. So, here are 4 actionable tips that professional truck drivers in Australia NSW can implement to improve fuel economy.
Improve truck aerodynamics
Trucks have a massive surface area which exposes them to more aerodynamic drag when compared to smaller vehicles. Aerodynamic drag is; the resistance exerted by air on a moving object. Trucks consumer a lot of fuel as they “fight” air resistance. However, this resistance can be reduced by improving a truck’s aerodynamics.
It is possible to save 50% of the fuel consumed using this tip according to a study by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Improving truck aerodynamics is as simple as using a roof-mounted cab deflector, sun visor or deep angled bumper to deflect air that hits the windscreen. Installing side fairings can help to improve aerodynamics underneath a truck.
Know your truck
Besides aerodynamics, a truck’s fuel consumption is also dictated by the type of fuel used. Different trucks have different octane level recommendations. Sticking to the right level will boost fuel economy. It’s also important to service the truck regularly. Changing the oil as well as tuning the engine periodically has been proven to offer better mileage. Tires should also be inflated and aligned accordingly. In fact, studies have shown that a simple maintenance practice such as inflating vehicle tires correctly can improve fuel economy by 10%. Given there are many truck models in Australia most of which are different, the importance of knowing your truck can’t be overlooked when looking to improve fuel economy.
This tip isn’t just for truck drivers. How you drive determines your fuel costs. Driving behaviour such as sticking to speed limits, using cruise control, avoiding unnecessary idling and preventing sudden stops/starts are examples of good driving behaviour that can help truck drivers improve fuel economy. Other responsible driver behaviours include; switching off the A/C periodically and proper planning (to avoid traffic). For instance, monitoring traffic conditions ahead of time can help in anticipating acceleration/braking. Trucks consume fuel better when they keep moving as opposed to when they are starting from a complete stop repeatedly. Proper planning can help a truck driver anticipate gear changes ahead of time-saving a lot of fuel in the process given, the fewer the fear changes, the better. It can also help avoid congestion. All these and more has been studied and proven to boost fuel efficiency.
You can use your truck’s momentum to get over hills without using a lot of fuel. Momentum can also be utilised to “roll to a halt” in traffic. Accelerating only when it’s absolutely necessary can result in huge savings. Most trucks today only consume fuel when you accelerate. Using momentum translates to lower fuel costs and less braking. If you must brake, you can use the exhaust braking system over the regular foot brake to reduce fuel costs and prolong the “life” of your brakes.
You can brake as well as clutch intelligently. Double-clutching isn’t necessary with most modern trucks. Besides damaging the gearbox, it also wastes fuel. Clutching intelligently also includes minimizing gear changes and skipping gears if possible. Every upward gear change boosts fuel economy by approximately 30%. Too much revving increases fuel consumption and wear on the engine. Keeping your engine revs low is a great way to save fuel.
Truck drivers can improve fuel economy by putting any one or more of the above tips into practice. There are studies backing the importance of aerodynamics, driving responsibly, driving intelligently and knowing your truck when looking to improve fuel economy. Besides saving on fuel, the above tips will also offer added benefits such as reducing the carbon footprint.
Contact Southern Truck Cross Rentals for more information on our trucks’ fuel efficiency.