1441 Management Decisions

The person supervising a company with a vehicle fleet can have a large impact upon the costs of running that fleet in at least five different areas: (1) matching the vehicle to the job, (2) maintenance of the vehicle yard, (3) instituting a system of fuel accountability, (4) taking advantage of unavoidable delays to create more efficient operation, and (5) keeping all vehicles tuned up.

Matching the Vehicle to the Job

This takes two forms. First is the policy that assigns small passenger or pickups to personnel on one-person trips; delivery vans for local deliveries, where the demand calls for more capacity than a pickup provides; and semi-trucks only where justified by the amount of material to be moved. Within each category the same rationale is applied—use the larger vehicles only when their use is necessitated by the load. Once the vehicles have been chosen or assigned based on their intended use, the second rule can come into play—if you do not need all the power of the vehicle now, see if it can be modified so that the maximum power used is lowered. This can happen where large earth-moving or transporting equipment has been designed for a 10% grade and where actual conditions do not have more than a 7% grade. If the actual requirement is less than the equipment was designed for, the governor or the fuel pump can be modified to limit the horsepower available to the operator.

Maintaining the Vehicle Yard

Mud resists vehicle travel and makes maintenance into a chore. The effect of mud, whether it is on a haul road or in a vehicle yard, can be seen in Figure 14.11. If a significant part of your fleet travel is along roads under your maintenance or in a yard you control, this figure can help you decide whether to surface the road or yard or how often to grade the road. Particularly where your vehicles have 30% or more of their travel off the road, the savings can be substantial.

Instituting Fuel Accountability

If your company does not have a system accounting for the use of every gallon of fuel, you probably could benefit from instituting such a program. The program has two benefits: It enables you to determine which of your vehicles is using the most fuel, and it decreases losses to employee vehicles. If you can locate the vehicles that are least efficient, you can start the process to find out whether something is wrong with the vehicle, whether some operating procedures need to be changed, or whether the particular design is inefficient. In any case, you have a better idea of where your vehicle fuel is going.

Fig. 14.11 Gasoline consumption as a function of rolling resistance.

Taking Advantage of Bottlenecks

If your facility has certain inherent bottlenecks, such as a power shovel that has less capacity than the trucks serving it, it may be possible to have these work to your advantage. In the example of the shovel, fuel can be saved by slowing down on the return trip from the dumping area, using the time that would be wasted waiting for the shovel in the additional time along the haul road. Make adjustments to the vehicle engine if operators are unwilling to conform to these practices.

Keep Vehicles Tuned Up

When a 1% improvement in vehicle efficiency can create a savings of $1 per day for each vehicle, it makes sense to keep vehicles tuned up. Keeping a vehicle fleet in tune saves three ways: in energy consumption, in frequency of downtime and the repairs involved, and in the cost of repairs that do have to be made. The tune-up procedure for each vehicle is prescribed by the manufacturer.

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