Article

Fuel Management When You Least Expect It

June 2010, TruckingInfo.com - Feature

by Glen Sokolis, Sokolis Group

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My guess is that most of you have a fuel management program. It is either real or it's in your head, but you believe you have an effective fuel program that is money saving when it comes to buying fleet fuel.
You might really have that type of program, but most of our research shows that most companies don't have a comprehensive program when it comes to their fuel management needs.

One thing that I know we can agree on is trying to predict diesel fuel prices, weather and the unpredictable acts of god. We have talked about diesel fuel prices in the past, and you bet it will come back up again in this column; but today it's weather and acts of god. I'm not talking about sunny weather or snowy, cold winter weather, though you want to make sure you have a good fuel additive program during those cold winter months. I am talking about the weather that you don't see coming, even some that you might see coming, and the crazy things that happen every day in this world that could affect your fuel management solutions.

Hurricanes, mud slides, heavy tropical storms, tornados, power grind disruptions, floods, frozen rivers, broken pipelines -- you get the picture. These things happen and they happen more often than any of us want them to happen. The key for your company to be successful when most of these do happen is to have an emergency fuel management backup plan in place. If you operated in Nashville recently when the river flooded like it did and your trucks were in water 5 feet deep, there isn't a lot you can do, as far as your fleet fuel goes. That was a very out-of-the-box situation, and sometimes no matter how hard you plan, there just isn't anything you can do.

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Here is a short list of emergency fuel management tips:

* If you have bulk fuel tanks, work out a contract with one fuel vendor and establish a relationship with them. This is critical when an emergency happens. If you are trying to beat the fuel market each day and where the lowest diesel fuel prices win, you will lose when an emergency happens. The fuel vendors will be as loyal to you as you are to them.

* Keep your bulk fuel tanks as full as possible. This way you have a couple of days' supply.

* Make sure you have a backup generator for your pumps, or you won't be pumping diesel fuel out of your bulk fuel tanks if the power is out.

* Have your generators in all parts of your building kept full. The diesel fuel used in a generator should be well treated with fuel additive and should also be run through several cycles per year. Don't let it be during the emergency when you use your generator for the first time since the last emergency. Diesel fuel can go bad if it sits around too long.

* If you don't have mobile fleet fueling at your location, establish a relationship with a mobile fueling vendor. This can help with your generator fueling, mobile fueling directly into your fleet of trucks, as well as possibly bringing you in a short load of diesel fuel into your bulk tank if you have one.

* Fleet fuel cards: You might already have them because you buy most of your fleet fuel over the road, but if you have bulk tanks or mobile fueling, having fleet fuel cards in a drawer that work can really help you out in a pinch. You are not going to be able to order fleet fuel cards during an emergency and expect to get them anytime soon. It takes time to process them, and who is going to deliver them to you? FedEx, UPS, USPS or others? They are all battling the same issues you are during this period of time.

As a fuel manager, you need to make sure your fuel management systems are in place before the problem happens. There is also no reason why during a crisis you should sign off on all your fleet fueling bills like any diesel fuel price is acceptable. Yes, to deliver during a crisis does take more time and effort, and there is a price to pay for that. But a fuel analysis after the fact won't do your company much good. Get your emergency fuel management pricing deals in place ahead of time, like everything else.

Good luck.

Glen Sokolis is president of Sokolis Group, a nationwide fuel management and fuel consulting company, www.FuelManagementSokolisGroup.com. You can reach him at gsokolis@sokolisgroup.com or (267) 482-6160.

Previous installments of "Friday Fuel:"
* "Successful Fuel Management Program Equals Discipline", 9-11-09
* "Who's Watching Your Fuel Program," 9-18-09
* "Fleet Fuel Margins: Are You Paying Too Much?" 9-25-09
* "How Do You Audit Your Fleet Fuel Invoices?" 10-2-09
* "Fleet Fuel Price Negotiating: Details, Details", 10-9-09
* "Mobile On-Site Fueling", 10-16-09
* "The Bees Are Still Buzzing: Handling Fuel on a Daily Basis", 10-23-09
* "Fleet Fuel Card Shopping", 10-30-09
* "Is Your Fuel Management Ready for Winter?", 11-6-09
* "Don't Let the Weather Freeze Your Deliveries", 11-13-09
* "Fuel Management or Fuel Inventory? That is the Question", 11-20-09
*
"Put Your Fleet Fueling Policy in Place For 2010, Part I", 12-4-09
*
"Put Your Fleet Fueling Policy in Place For 2010, Part II", 12-11-09
*
"Be Safe, Not Sorry With Fuel Management During the Holidays", 12-18-09
*
"Looking Back: 2009 Fuel Management in Review", 12-23-2009
*
"Oil's Ups and Downs", 1-8-2010
*
"Why Oil Does What It Does When It Comes to Prices", 1-15-2010
*
"Controlling Fuel Efficiency When Fuel Prices Are Unpredictable", 1-22-2010
*
"The Motivation Behind Mobile Fleet Fueling", 1-29-2010
*
"Fleet Fuel Prices: What are They Now?", 2-5-2010
*
"Fuel Management Lost at Sea," 3-5-10
* "Spring is in the Air.....and There's Water in my Tank!", 3-19-10
*

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