Search This Blog

Monday, June 10, 2013

Setting up Idle Alerts and Reporting to help drive fleet costs down

Excessive idling can cost thousands a year in fuel and maintenance costs.

America's fleet of about 500,000 long-haul trucks consume over a billion gallons of diesel fuel each year.  The trucking industry has analyzed the impact of idling on engines, both in terms of maintenance and engine wear costs.  Long-duration idling causes more oil and oil filter deterioration and increases the need for more oil and filter changes.  Similarly the longer the idling time, the sooner the engine itself will need to be rebuilt. 

The trucking industry estimates that long duration idling costs the truck owners $1.13 per active vehicle per day, just in oil and maintenance costs.  Excessive idling fuel costs vary from vehicle to vehicle, but estimates for small vehicles (Ford Focus for example) is in the range of 2 liters or 0.32 gallons per idle hour.  For heavy trucks (Ford F-350), the estimate is closer to 6.8 liters or 1.08 gallons per idle hour.  A study by the Texas Transport Institute indicated that Semi trucks idle their engines for 6 to 10 hours a day outside of normal travel.  Estimated total annual idling time was in the range of 1,500-3,000 hours per truck per year.  Using the estimated average diesel fuel costs for 2013 to be $3.88 per gallon of fuel, this would cost the average semi-driver between $5,820-$11,640 per year.  Across the trucking industry this represents about $2.91B - $5.82B in potential lost revenue annually.

According to the US Department of Transportation there were an estimated 254,212,610 registered passenger vehicles in the US in 2009.  Using a NOx estimated Emissions calculation of 5 minutes per day per vehicle (on average) would indicate emissions of 127 tons/day.  It's estimated that 23 tons/day of NOx are emitted in the major metropolitan areas in Texas alone due to extended truck idling, so vehicle idling is a major contributor to the overall emissions inventory of the US.  Using vehicle tracking systems and setting up in-house idling policies can help to measure and reduce idling costs both in terms of costs to the owner or company, as well as the cost to the environment.


Setting up email alerts to measure when a vehicle has been idling for a minimum period of time, can help act as a reminder that the driver has exceeded his minimum idling time frame - and can help change idling behavior.

Additional alerts can be sent after the initial idle alert to indicate excessive idling - which can be evaluated by managers; to determine if the situation is an exception to the standard idling rules.


Managers can also run monthly or bi-monthly idling reports to verify that idling is reduced, and to carefully measure what current idling rates are costing the company - or how much adherence policies are doing to help reduce costs.

Several companies utilizing vehicle tracking systems have indicated that in actual practice, that the cost of implementing a GPS based vehicle tracking system can be paid for just on the savings of reduced fleet idling alone - even without adding in additional savings in insurance and reduced liability, reduced fuel usage, routing, safety, delivery verification, and driver productivity provided by the system.