Optimizing Routes and Fuel Efficiency for Independent Trucking Companies

July 14, 2023
Authority Express
Authority Express

Independent trucking companies frequently operate with very narrow profit margins, which means every dollar saved matters. Boosting operational efficiency is one of the most effective ways to increase profit margins and ensure long-term success in the industry. 

Two of the most significant ways owner-operators or independent truck drivers can enhance operational efficiency include optimizing routes and increasing fuel efficiency. 

How Can Optimization of  Route Planning Benefit Independent Trucking Companies?

Route planning is vital in the trucking industry. Inefficient route planning can increase transportation expenses by up to 30%. When your business is transportation, these extra expenses can severely impair your ability to turn a profit. You can avoid these unnecessary expenses by optimizing route planning by reducing the miles and time used for each load. 

Optimizing routes can be done by following a few key steps:

Get to know your service area

To determine the best route for any load, you must understand all of the route options. This can be done by studying the area's geography, including any potential transportation challenges, such as mountain ranges, urban areas with heavy traffic, and small rural roads. Once you have this information, you can gather data on traffic patterns, road closures, construction zones, and speed limits. 

Identify your delivery points and critical stops in between

To optimize your route planning, you will want to identify all key destinations and the final delivery points. This may include warehouses, retail centers, and distribution centers. 

Use tech tools to simplify route planning

Optimizing your routes is a great way to reduce inefficiencies, but doing it well requires collecting a ton of data. Fortunately, advanced software platforms can easily handle this data and provide real-time updates.  These platforms reflect any recent delays or obstacles and then reroute the truck driver to the next best alternative to avoid the delay. With these sophisticated tools, you can be sure that you are always taking the best possible route to the destination, which saves you time and money. Some platforms even leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to incorporate patterns and historical data to make predictions that optimize route planning. It’s a great way to ensure you always operate in a way that saves your trucking company money and boosts your profits. 

Optimizing your routes is a complex process, but it can be greatly simplified using advanced route planning technologies. These tools can reduce the amount of time and miles required for the delivery of loads. And while a few lost miles or minutes here and there may not seem like much, many independent trucking companies would be shocked to learn the total value of these lost resources when added up over a month or year. Don’t let your company fall victim to inefficiency. By creating the best possible routes, you can boost your chances of long-term industry success, which is one of the best ways to ensure your trucking company doesn’t end up going out of business like so many others

How Can Increasing Fuel Efficiency Benefit Independent Trucking Companies?

Fuel is another major expense for independent truckers. It can be the largest regular expense your trucking company has every month. Because of this, improving your fuel efficiency by even a mile per gallon can save thousands throughout the year. 

These tips can improve your fuel efficiency and save you money. 

Conduct pre-trip inspections and regular maintenance checks

These inspections can take time, but they are worth it, and they are something you have to do anyway as an owner-operator or truck driver. But they also show you ways to optimize your truck’s performance, which usually results in greater fuel efficiency. For instance, if your tire’s air pressure is reduced by 1 PSI, you can lose 0.3% of fuel efficiency. Checking other items, like tire alignment, fan operating tie, fluid levels, and cables, can enhance your truck’s performance and result in greater fuel economy. 

Reducing idle time

Idling for an hour can consume a gallon of fuel, which is excellent motivation to reduce idle time. Additionally, some states have limits for idling time for truckers. These are both good reasons to reduce idling time and save on fuel.

Stay in higher gears when possible

Experienced drivers know that time spent in higher gears results in greater fuel efficiency, as driving in a lower gear can use up to 50% more fuel. 

More coasting and less brakes

Finding the right following distance behind other vehicles can let you spend more time coasting, which maximizes fuel use. It also reduces the need for braking, ensuring your brakes last longer before needing replacement, which is a double win!

Consider speed

There has been a lot of research about the optimal speed for fuel efficiency, which is likely around 65 - 70 miles per hour for most trucks. Every additional ten miles per hour results in a loss of one mile per gallon in fuel efficiency. But going too slow can make load deliveries much longer, which does not maximize driver efficiency. If you are unsure about the optimal speed for your trucks, you can calculate the loss in fuel efficiency versus the driver’s time spent on the load to give you an idea of whether you need to adjust speed.

Be mindful of traffic conditions

Traffic conditions can increase idle and braking time, killing fuel efficiency. Avoid any traffic jams or road construction to maximize your fuel consumption.

Don’t overfill the tank

While it might seem counterintuitive to want less fuel in your tank, overfilling your fuel tank adds weight to the load and wastes fuel since diesel expands with heat which can cause overflow, spilling the excess fuel onto the ground. Additionally, you can risk damaging your truck. 

Independent trucking companies and owner-operators have to be smart with their money to remain profitable. These strategies help optimize routes and increase fuel efficiency, which are great ways to save your company money and increase your odds of staying in business for years to come!

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