Opinion

Fuel: Keep your eyes fixed on the big picture

How long have we been under the cost-cutting pressure?  It sure seems like a long time.  For the fleet community a key focus area for cash savings has been the cost of fuel cost, improving fuel efficiency and optimising driver behaviour. 

So does the recent fall in the price of crude offer the fleet community some sort of rest-bite?  Some may say it's a chance for us to sit back and take a well earned breather.  I'm not one of those fellows.    Riding the wave of falling fuel prices carries big risks. 

Firstly, the price of fuel may well be falling, but let's not forget that it still forms a big part of the TCO.  We can't turn our backs on a budget line that accounts for a third or more of total expenditure.   We should be looking to boost savings from fuel reduction rather than relax.

Secondly, the price of fuel is cyclical.  Prices may still slide further, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they will hit a floor and bounce right back up. In fact the oil price has already started rising again.  So by continuing to strive for fuel efficiency you'll soften the blow.  

Fuel management is also part of a much bigger picture.  This is my third reason for keeping up the pressure.  Fleet pioneers take a holistic view of the entire value chain just because they understand the interconnected nature of the fleet business. 

Take, for example, big issues like safety and sustainability.  We have been shown time and time again that safer and sustainable fleets are also more fuel efficient fleets.   The two go hand in hand. It's important to remember that fuel savings give rise to so much more than meets the eye. 

Finally, for me it's about changing mindsets and supporting smart mobility.  Surging fuel prices have helped to focus attention on the way we currently do things and, it's a cold hard fact, that the way we do things today needs to change.  The smart solutions that are in the market already - along with the next generation of tools - could change the modus operandi of fleet management.    Let's not delay transformational change - or miss out on it completely - by banking on short term fuel savings.

Authored by: Steven Schoefs