Results of fuel economy benchmarking study released

Snowmass, Colorado, US: The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) has released the results of its first fleet fuel efficiency study

Its 2011 Fleet Fuel Efficiency Benchmark Study compares the results of an investigation with eight major North American fleets concerning their adoption of various products and practices for fuel efficiency.

It identifies benchmark competencies of the eight companies in many different subject areas. The Full Study Package includes an online course, the 28 page report, a complete data set of findings and a one time live webinar with the study team.

Fleets participating in the study were CR England, Challenger Motor Freight, Con-way Truckload, Frito Lay, Gordon Trucking, Ryder, Schneider National and Werner Enterprises.

The goal of the study was to illustrate technology implementation experiences from uptake to full implementation, and in some cases rejection, and to identify best practices shared by these fleets in terms of how they manage their fuel expenses and take advantage of opportunities to reduce them.

The study also offers insights for others considering the adoption of these products such as widebase single tyres, trailer aerodynamics, anti-idle hardware, and practices such as driver training, routing software, etc.) and gives feedback to manufacturers on customer requirements and expectations for future products. The report found that these fleets saved on average $4,400 per year or $22,000 in fuel expenses over five years.

“The economic value that the NACFE Fuel Efficiency study represents to us is significant as it provides specific ideas for execution as we continue to lower our fuel costs,” says Mike O’Connell, national senior director for fleet capability at Frito Lay, and NACFE board chair. “The environmental opportunities are equally exciting, and since our fleet is known for its environmental leadership, we look forward to receiving both economic and environmental benefits from this report.”

Fleets that took part in the study were all early adopters of various fuel savings practices and technologies, and they continue to profit today from those experiences. Some early adopters of certain technologies later rejected them as either too costly in terms of acquisition cost versus percentage of fuel saved, too expensive to maintain, or simply ineffective. Some later reintroduced previously abandoned technologies as subsequent generations of the product improved and became more cost effective.

While specific products or technologies were not identified during the press conference (savings accrued by individual fleets were not quantified for the study, just the adoption and retention rates), the study reveals very wide acceptance and retention of some technologies, while others were widely adopted by some fleets, but not others. Further, it was shown that acceptance and ramp up rates varied across participating fleets, indicating that while some found certain technologies useful, others did not.

“We tried to drill down to the actual “value” of each technology or practice as experienced by individual fleets, but found that to be too difficult within the structure of the study,” said O’Connell. “Instead, we chose to gauge the effectiveness of each by the fleets ramp-up and retention rates. That a fleet kept a certain technology in service was a signal that the fleet saw some value there.”

Among the study’s findings were:

  • In 2003 when the study started about 30% of the available technologies were adopted. Current adoption rates are significantly higher
  • Between the time fuel peaked in 2008 and declined in 2009, fleets continued to invest in fuel saving technology and even increased their adoption of various technologies after fuel prices subsided
  • Average fleet fuel economy showed a 2 to 3 percent decline during the period following the first round of EPA-mandated emissions reduction regulations, but in comparisons between adopters and non-adopters of various technologies between 2007 and 2010, fuel economy showed improvement in fleets with greater acceptance of fuel saving technology than those without.

The council will offer an online learning environment called the NACFE Academy, where industry personnel can learn about technologies and practices that are improving the efficiency of North American goods movement.

“Through our unbiased approach to aggregating information on fuel efficient technologies, we are adding direct value to the fleets’ bottom lines and helping suppliers communicate the value of their offerings in the marketplace,” says NACFE executive director, Mike Roeth. “The NACFE Academy offers a creative, e-learning place for this information sharing.”

The initial report from the NACFE Academy, 2011 Fleet Fuel Study, Real Fleets. Real Experience is  as a document for download, as an online course ,and in a question-and-answer session with the study team in a small group webinar.

“The study can be purchased as a package that includes the report for download, an online course that will help bring the findings to life, data sets on adoption and a question-and-answer session with the Study team in a small group webinar,” Roeth says.

• The North American Council for Freight Efficiency is a non-profit organization dedicated to doubling the freight efficiency of transportation industry by improving the quality of information available to members and by highlighting the success of high efficiency technologies.