A recent article by GEOTAB offered some interesting insights on idling and ways to effectively improve fuel consumption.
The article deconstructs idle time into sub-categories to better understand “WHY” idling is occurring and whether it is “acceptable” or could be curbed by the driver.
They compare two fictional drivers: Driver A and Driver B. Driver A logged 300 minutes of idling, and Driver B logged 250 minutes.
While the immediate assumption is that Driver B was a better manager of idle time, a closer look at their records revealed that most of their idling occurred during their “pre-trip” and “post-trip” time periods.
Specifically, Driver B idles while doing his/her walk around inspections and setting up his/her route plan. That idling in the yard or at the terminal could have been easily avoided. Driver A’s idling happened during heavy traffic while on dispatch.
From the article —
The majority of preventable and actionable idle time happens during the before trip and after trip segments. This idle time can be reduced by the use of idle reduction campaigns which establish peer pressure, one-on-one communications with drivers, and continuous feedback using idle reports.
Idle time can be reduced by instilling a culture that prohibits the running of the engine during pre-inspections, filling out of paper work, or any activities where the running of the engine is not necessary.
Idle time during the trip can be used in route planning because it can indicate travel conditions for a given route or area. Idle time during the trip is normally attributed to traffic conditions, traffic signals, and driving conditions. While drivers most likely do not have direct control of this idle time, the route and time-of-day can be evaluated to ensure travel delays (idle time) is reduced as much as possible.
To really maximize your efforts in reducing idle time, clear reporting can help you dive deeper to distinguish unavoidable versus avoidable idling. Productive drivers who are admonished to reduce idle time without distinguishing these factors can easily become frustrated while other operators are wasting fuel during pre-trip inspections or other scenarios.
Selecting the right partner to help you quickly spot these trends also makes a huge difference. While some firms charge an arm and a leg for telematics “data” (which amounts to “background noise”), receiving superior “insights” (on the most urgently actionable areas) can translate to immediate savings.