Fleet News

How fuel analysts can drive down your costs

Fuel card data is swamping fleet managers in extra work despite providing useful information on cost and performance. The problem emerged at the Fleet News round table, sponsored by The Miles Consultancy (TMC), at the Lancaster London Hotel.

Two companies – Morrison Plant Services and Daniel Contractors – had resorted to employing full-time analysts to examine fuel card data for commercial vehicles.

The analyst at Morrison Plant Services had already “paid their wages” in fuel savings while the other, who started in May, was “well over halfway” towards doing so.

Daniel Contractors, which specialises in utilities and has a fleet of approximately 700 vehicles, is aiming for a 10-15% saving which will equate to £500,000. Its analyst has been tasked with looking at mpg reports and checking out of hours usage.

Paul Boulds, fleet manager at Daniel Contractors, said: “Out-of-hours usage sounds simplistic but it is actually quite complex because our engineers could be on call at weekends or at night so you have to cross reference the fuel card data with their time sheets.”

The analyst is also looking for theft and had spotted a registration that didn’t belong to a company vehicle in June’s end-of-month accountancy.

“The report from our fuel card provider wouldn’t tell you that,” Boulds said.

Tony Raymond, commercial and fleet manager at Morrison Plant Services, agreed that reporting from fuel card providers was not flawless.

“We’ve discovered holes in it,” he said. “If the driver puts the wrong registration in it doesn’t pick that up in the overall pence per mile. So in many ways it’s a flawed solution.”

Boulds said that simply notifying employees that a fuel analyst had been employed had a good impact.

Steering drivers towards the cheapest fuel sites is also part of the analyst’s role. She updates the company intranet site every Monday with the cheapest locations within a five-mile radius of each major contract.

The website, along with getting drivers to fill up throughout the day at the cheapest site rather than waiting for the fuel tank to be nearly empty, is delivering savings.

“A 1p or 2p a litre saving over a year is £30-50,000,” Boulds said. “That’s a fair size saving just from doing simple things.”

Originally Boulds had introduced a policy that 80% of fill-ups had to be at supermarkets but he discovered that other fuel stations were cheaper than supermarkets in certain areas.

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