With so many disruptive, innovative changes taking place across the trucking industry today, it’s not really a surprise that diesel fuels have been left out of the conversation. Although one of the more standard (albeit, necessary) aspects of the industry, the mindset remains that diesel is just diesel.
Today’s reality, though, is that diesel is not just diesel and there are important considerations beyond the fuel. And for fleet managers, there are also considerations when choosing which suppliers they decide to work with to improve vehicle performance and reduce costs.
As industry leaders continue to think about new ways to streamline efficiencies, attract top talent and keep their trucks in the best shape possible, it’s time to go back to the basics and reconsider the impact the right diesel fuel formulation and supplier can really have.
Selecting the Right Supplier
Given that fuel is the largest part of the average fleet’s operating budget – between 30 and 40%, according to a 2016 report from the American Transportation Research Institute – it is important fleet managers receive the best possible return on their investment.
Experienced suppliers understand the important role fuel plays in a fleet’s business, and enact safeguards – such as strict qualifications for carriers, regulatory awareness, product quality integrity and high safety focus ‒ to avoid mistakes that could present costly issues for a fleet.
Increasing Operational Efficiency
As fleet managers continue to face pressure to boost efficiency across the board, it’s important that they are aware of the fuel economy benefits some additized diesel fuel formulations can offer. This allows managers to keep trucks on the road longer, minimize the fleet’s downtime and bring environmental benefit with reduced CO2 and NOx emissions.
While energy alternatives continue to rise in popularity, diesel isn’t going anywhere. Rather, formulations will continue to evolve as the industry looks to meet enhanced regulatory and performance standards. In fact, ExxonMobil’s 2017 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040 expects diesel use will continue to rise globally by approximately 30% through 2040, mainly to meet increasing trucking demands.2 While diesel growth will come primarily in Asia Pacific, there will be pockets of growth in the Americas as well, particularly in Latin America and specific sectors in the U.S.
Instead of writing off diesel as just another cost, viewing it as an opportunity to boost fuel economy and fleet efficiency will be key for fleet managers who are looking to increase operational efficiencies and reduce overall costs.
Reducing Maintenance Costs
While improved fuel economy can help fleets meet their goal of keeping vehicles on the road for longer, the heart of any engine is its fuel system, and keeping that system running smoothly is vital to increasing overall efficiency.
Of course, over time, like any piece of machinery, the fuel system will eventually begin to degrade. However, in addition to using a high-performing diesel, working with a quality supplier and receiving the proper maintenance service can increase engine durability and reduce the stress on the engine’s components, while also combatting other maintenance problem areas, such as:
- Preventing premature fuel filter failure by both helping to stabilize the fuel and by carrying insoluble impurities through the filter;
- Reducing fuel system repairs due to corrosion in tanks, lines, pumps and injectors; and
- Removing internal injector deposit build-up, which should help to reduce fuel injector failures
The combination of using the right product and working with the right partners can keep trucks out of the shop for longer periods and help drivers feel more confident in their vehicle’s performance.
Improving the Bottom Line
Vehicle and engine manufacturers today continue to develop more advanced engines and complex systems throughout heavy-duty trucks in an effort to meet more stringent regulations and emissions standards. As a result, it makes sense that diesel fuel, in its own right, has become more sophisticated, and one that can improve the way fleets operate.
Fleets that recognize the benefits of leveraging the right diesel fuel formulation and supplier can expect to find strong business incentives for taking advantage of those offerings, including improved fuel economy and fleet efficiency, and more satisfied drivers piloting more responsive, higher-performing trucks.
To learn more about which diesel product can provide the best benefits for your business, ExxonMobil recommends consulting with your fuel supplier and other industry leaders about the ways in which diesel can work harder for you to stay ahead in a rapidly changing industry.
Kurt Ilgenfritz is the global commercial fuels marketing manager for ExxonMobil. This article was authored and edited according to the standards of HDT’s editors to provide useful information to our readers.