OPINION: High farm debt levels have cast a shadow over the Ministry for Primary Industry's positive predictions for agriculture in 2020.
1. Reduce idling: idling a heavy commercial vehicle can use up to 2L fuel per hour. By cutting your idling time you can save 5% of your fuel bill, says the government agency EECA.
Mangonui Haulage, in Northland, runs 50 trucks that include logging, livestock and mixed-use trucks. By its fleet management system the firm discovered many drivers were idling their trucks for up to 45 minutes. So it ruled that all engines must be turned off after five minutes of idling. This has helped the business’ profits.
2. Keep up regular equipment maintenance: telemetry data from Teletrac Navman shows that poorly serviced equipment and vehicles can use up to 50% more fuel. With a fleet management system you can set alerts for maintenance tasks based on an engine reaching a set amount of kilometres travelled or hours in operation. With regular maintenance check-ups, wear and tear can be fixed before it causes a machine to fail.
3. Keep tyres inflated: under-inflated tyres use around 10% more fuel than properly inflated ones. Tyres are also known to lose around 1-2psi per month (3-6%) naturally, so checking and inflating is a monthly task.
4. Record important location coordinates on a GPS system: Haddrell’s of Cambridge (beekeepers) does a lot of running to visit its many hive sites. The company used its GPS fleet management system to set up ‘geofences’ around its many, often hard-to-find hive sites. A geofence is a virtual geographic boundary around an area which can be used to mark exact locations and to track which vehicles cross the boundary. Saving all the sites to their fleet management system and using the navigation tool saves all new staff members fuel and time of their rounds of the sites.
5. Use fuel monitoring systems: this will allow your business to measure how much fuel is dispensed versus how much fuel is used. You can use this to identify inefficient vehicles and equipment, which helps to make informed purchasing decisions when fixing or replacing assets. A fuel management system can also help businesses identify fuel theft.
6. Tweak your driving habits to drive smarter: take corners carefully, avoid harsh braking and accelerate smoothly to reduce fuel consumption. The New Zealand Racing Board reduced fuel consumption from 21L/100km to 13.8L/100km in its fleet in part by smarter, safer driving habits.
7. Lighten your load: unused roof racks or roof boxes can be removed from a vehicle as they create wind resistance and this reduces fuel efficiency.
8. Claim your Road User Charges (RUC) rebates: vehicle licensing costs have gone up. So if you’re running a diesel vehicle on private property or roads you can apply for a rebate on that ‘off-road’ portion of your RUC licence. For farm services that enter private driveways many times per day, the 500m stretch from the main road to the milk shed adds up. An electronic RUC system allows tracking the small distances for each vehicle, and automatically populate a claims form for the off-road distances.