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5 ways to save fuel while operating heavy equipment

5 ways to save fuel while operating heavy equipment

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Margins matter in any business, especially in industries like construction, farming or any other field that relies on expensive heavy equipment. That's why a close eye must be kept on every way possible to save money.

For heavy equipment operators, one of the best ways to save money is to focus on fuel efficiency. The more fuel saved, the more money saved.

Let's go over some of the best ways to save fuel and money when operating heavy equipment and machinery.

What is fuel efficiency?

But first, let's define fuel efficiency so we are all on the same page. Fuel efficiency, not to be confused or interchanged with fuel economy, is the amount of fuel used to get a certain job done or accomplish a goal.

Fuel economy, on the other hand, is just how much fuel was used. For example, two pieces of equipment or machinery could have the same fuel economy and use the same amount of fuel in and hour of use, but equipment with better fuel efficiency will be able to do more in that hour.

Now, here are tips on how to improve heavy equipment fuel efficiency.

1. Don't let your equipment idle too long.

Many operators are guilty of wasting fuel as soon as they start their machinery - and again when they begin to shut it down for the day - by letting it idle for too long.

This can be a significant cause of fuel waste and it's mostly unnecessary. More modern equipment's diesel engines are able to warm up and cool down way faster than they used to, meaning idling for longer periods of time is not needed.

Plus, if operators don't idle as long, not only are they reducing fuel consumption, but they are also making a more environmentally-friendly decision.

Now, in some industries, such as trucking, idling at some point is just unavoidable. However, truckers that can gain access to shore power or truckstop electricity can do themselves a lot of favors. According to Bell Performance, plugging in a rig rather than letting it idle can save as much as $3,000 in fuel.

As for other heavy equipment, just one hour of idling wastes about a gallon of fuel - and about a half-gallon in lighter vehicles. For managers of large vehicle fleets or farm operators who have many pieces of machinery active at any given moment, that wasted fuel adds up very quickly.

2. Take it easy on acceleration, shifting.

Some equipment operators also make the mistake of driving at speeds so high that fuel efficiency really takes a hit. Save diesel by pumping the breaks and giving yourself more time to get from Point A to B.

Vehicle and engine makers will often recommend what the optimum speed is for achieving maximum fuel efficiency. Heavy equipment owners could consider installing governing systems that can then limit an engine's speed or use fleet management software to keep tabs on how fast drivers are traveling and let them know when they should slow down.

In addition monitoring speed, engine RPMs also need to be watched closely. Equipment operators that shift at lower RPMs can do themselves a favor, too, when it comes to filling the tank. Operators should always be instructed to lower the equipment's RPM before shifting.

3. Check the tires.

Tires go a long way in helping or hurting fuel consumption in heavy equipment and machinery. Tire pressure that is either too high or too low can put a significant drag on efficiency.

A little underinflation can go a long way, too. A tire that is only 6 PSI too low will actually consume 3% more fuel. Have tires inspected and adjusted properly on a regular basis to have more control over engine fuel efficiency.

Operators should also be wary of tires slipping too much. The more a tire slips, the more fuel that ends up being consumed. This also puts a more serious strain on an engine. If ballast is not sufficient, then operators will see too much slipping. With lighter loads, be sure to remove ballast. Always make sure to provide proper rolling resistance.

4. Train drivers and operators.

Many of the tips we have already covered come down to one thing: equipment operators and drives. Without a skilled operator at the wheel, achieving the kind of fuel efficiency that actually saves money.

That's why it is critical that drivers and operators are trained and coached on how to properly operate heavy equipment and machinery. Coaching operators can help end the kinds of behaviors that waste fuel, such as speeding, excessive idling, hard braking and sudden accelerating.

Aside from classroom and worksite training, managers who must juggle larger fleets could do well to invest in fleet management software.

5. Don't skip regular maintenance.

A well-maintained machine will almost always achieve higher fuel efficiency than equipment that is maintained as it should be.

Some of the regular maintenance that can help with fuel efficiency includes keeping machines greased, adjusting belts to their proper tension and keeping tracks adjusted to the right tension. Each of these can help decrease resistance and allows for smoother movements, which promotes better fuel use.

Improve engine performance, fuel efficiency with Air Filter Blaster

Our Air Filter Blaster has been proven in the field to save fuel. Through extensive testing, we have put time in the field to show the very real advantages that can be gained by cleaning heavy equipment air filters with our products.

Field trials using the Air Filter Blaster have shown that heavy equipment operators can see annual savings of more than $10,000 per vehicle in fuel and other repair costs. In addition to the fuel savings, money can be saved by having a clean air filter that puts far less stress on the engine, increasing engine performance, reducing costly engine maintenance and lengthening engine life.

The technology behind our product is also much more environmentally friendly because it reduces engine oil consumption, helps oil burn cleaner, generates less waste from discarded air filters and it helps machinery meet stricter government fuel efficiency standards.

Dive in and see the testing data for yourself for more information on how our products can help your fleet and bank account.