Trucks taking 50% longer to fuel – 45 minutes is new industry average according to study

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Time spent fuelling increases labour costs; decreases productive time worked.

I remember starting my working career as a kid, my employers told me what I was worth. And I think it was a buck and a half an hour. As time went on, my working-worth increased until I became an entrepreneur and then my value was directly proportional to how well I managed my growth and controlled costs. I had to work smarter given the limited hours I had each day. Today that challenge continues for me, for suppliers and our clients.

There are some costs you can’t control but they can all be managed better. For example, high labour costs can be contained particularly when it comes to refuelling. In a recent study of major transport companies across Canada, the average time to fuel at commercial stations had increased by 50% over two years. What used to take truckers 30 minutes now takes 45. I know this number is low for bigger cities where you sit in traffic longer and it’s always hard to account for the drivers who spend additional time making a call, using the restroom or stopping for a coffee. But for the purposes of this discussion, let’s stick with 45 minutes per refuelling session; 15 minutes longer than it used to take. That’s a 50% increase in time, and a 50% increase in hourly labour costs.

There’s no return on paying for unproductive time. It’s as simple as that. The 45 minute measure considers the total time spent getting fuel per truck per day. The clock starts when the truck leaves its route to find a fuelling station, waits in line, adds fuel to tanks, completes the transaction and returns to its route. During this time, you are paying for the labour, maintenance, insurance and administration but making no deliveries, moving no goods and earning no return on a considerable investment.

The study was conducted through personal and telephone interviews with senior executives, owners and fleet managers of businesses in transportation, logistics and freight operating in major urban centres in Canada. It was conducted by 4Refuel, the only company in the world to develop systems for automatically tracking fuel transactions and reporting them online.

Let’s do some math to show what the real cost of refuelling is when you do your own fleet filling at card-locks. For a fleet of 20 trucks you can expect to spend approximately 50 hours each week devoted to refuelling. And many of those hours are overtime hours costing time and a half or double time rates. What do your drivers earn per hour? Now do the math. It adds up to tens of thousands of dollars in lost productivity. Now, think about what you get for all those hours spent filling up, other than fuel. Nothing.

Today many companies have come to the conclusion that time spent refuelling can be re-gained and put back onto their bottom line when they use Total Fuel Management. This solution has been pioneered, developed and fine-tuned by 4Refuel Inc., the only company in the world to look at logistics, refuelling and fuel management from your perspective. Total Fuel Management includes everything from fuel procurement, delivery, to the measurement and management of fuel consumption data. Clients no longer have to search for fuel during shortages. No more driving time. Waiting is eliminated and you get the information you need to manage your fleets better. Fuel Management Online or FMO delivers, via email, the data captured from each truck. This information allows you to figure out where consumption is wasted and productivity can be improved giving you better profitability for each dollar spent on fuel. Your drivers appreciate the change to this system because they are no longer responsible for maintaining fuel levels because all refuelling is done at your location while trucks are parked, usually outside of business hours.

But don’t take my word for it… “It's about the money," says Hugh Sanders Vice President at Roff Logistics, the company responsible for transport needs for Supply Chain Management and Walmart Canada. They have 135 trucks on the road and another 15 in-yard. "We've been using 4Refuel for the past 10 years. Based on our current fuel useage it would take us 93 man-hours each day...that's right, each refuel at card-locks. With 4Refuel we save over $2,200 every working day. Each year? That works out to over $500,000 in saved labour costs. Over the years we have seen traffic increases and more demand for fuel. We don't have to worry about fuel supply or running low. Our trucks are always kept full, and 4Refuel drivers are available 24/7. Everybody has to wait at card-locks. And when you combine the driving time, waiting, and the time it takes to fill up, it's a lot of wasted time, money and effort. Years ago we realized the importance of having 4Refuel look after us. That was when we were paying $12 per hour. Today our costs are well over $20 an hour. Wait times, drive times have all increased, in addition to wages." Mr. Sanders concludes, "So, who doesn't want to save money?"

Total Fuel Management eliminates the growing labour costs associated with refuelling plus delivers valuable information to make your operations run more smoothly while increasing profits. I’d say that’s pretty good advice from a guy who used to be worth only a buck or two an hour...

Organizations: FMO, Walmart Canada

Geographic location: Canada

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