Fuel costs always have a major impact on the bottom line when it comes to operating heavy diesel engine equipment. That’s true for any type of heavy machinery, whether it be in the construction industry or in agriculture.
This is why construction job site managers and farmers are constantly searching for ways to save fuel and decrease how much money in their operating budgets is dedicated to fuel. There are many common tips and strategies out there to try, but a select few are absolute musts when it comes to actually having a positive impact on fuel cost savings.
Let’s go over some of these fuel-saving strategies that your crew should always be doing in order to save money on diesel for heavy equipment and machinery.
Long idle times are almost always one of the top culprits for wasted fuel in heavy equipment operation. Idling for even just 10 minutes per day for a year would waste about 24.6 gallons of fuel in a single piece of equipment, according to Construction Review Online.
Now, consider how many vehicles and different types of machinery are in your fleet or in operation on your farm. That adds up to a lot of lost fuel – and money down the drain.
Most idling during any given day occurs when operators start their machinery for the first time and then again when before they shut it down when their shift comes to a close. It’s at these points throughout the day that operators and crew managers should keep an eye out for equipment that is sitting and idling for too long. The result could be a cut in wasted fuel, which would lead to cost savings, especially after a year of incorporating this strategy into daily routines.
Another common solution to reducing wasted fuel is to make sure proper tire pressure is maintained in all equipment and vehicles in a fleet.
Checking tire pressure on a regular schedule to adjust for pressures that are either too high or too low can have an immediate impact on fuel consumption. For example, if a tire is underinflated by a mere 6 PSI, then that equipment could consume about 3% more fuel. A regular checkup and adjustments made when necessary can give you more control over heavy equipment fuel efficiency.
On a related note, equipment and machinery operators should be on the lookout for tires that slip too often while in operation. Tire slips lead to more fuel being needed to keep the machinery moving. Slips also place additional strain on engines. Always make the needed adjustments, such as proper ballast and rolling resistance, to keep tires from slipping.
Keeping on track with regular maintenance can also help reduce unnecessary fuel consumption and lead to savings. It can also help catch more significant underlying problems before they cause part failure.
One study from the University of Maryland showed that preventative maintenance and a complete tune up of tractors led to a reduced fuel consumption by about 15%.
Be sure to discuss with your mechanic what a regular maintenance schedule should look like for each vehicle and piece of equipment.
A good ongoing maintenance schedule for heavy equipment should include the following checks and tasks:
If a regular maintenance schedule such as this one is followed, then you could see fuel efficiency improved by up to 10%, according to some estimates.
Operators who do not know what they are doing or have developed bad habits in how they operate machinery can also be a significant cause of wasted fuel. Whether you have people working out in the field or on the job site, you must always make sure operators are trained in correct technique and fully understand best practices for operating all machinery they may handle while on the clock.
People operating heavy machinery should be knowledgeable of which work modes should be used at any given time or for different types of maneuvers and which power levels should be used when they are driving equipment.
A couple of ways to ensure everyone who operates heavy equipment for you is trained correctly is to give them adequate worksite training – or be sure they have had that training before they came to work for you. Otherwise, you can look into classes, such as those at area community colleges or technical skills, that can offer proper training.
Ideally, an engine that is working as efficiently as possible can boost fuel economy by more than a third.
Over time, a properly trained operator will be able to pick up on audible clues that suggest when an engine might be working too hard or struggling to be that efficient due to a problem. Engines that are working too hard use up more fuel, so you need to know when equipment engines may be experiencing an issue, such as low oil levels, dirty filters and dirty engine parts in general.
It takes time to develop an ear for this type of thing, but sounds to listen for include grinding, clicking or other unusually loud and aggressive sounds.
Another habit to pick up that can increase fuel economy in your equipment is to clean heavy equipment diesel engine air filters.
Clean air filters mean clean air is reaching an engine. But dirty air filters can quickly sap an engine of power and decrease fuel economy. Monitor ir flow with an air filter restriction gauge or a visual inspection to know when it’s time to clean the filter.
When you do elect to clean the air filter, make sure to use a product that will not damage the filter element, such as the Filter Blaster.
Our Filter Blaster products have been tested to ensure that they are safe to use with heavy equipment diesel engine air filters and will actually result in better engine performance, which among other things, leads to lower fuel consumption.
Along with cleaning air filters and the other tips above, you can maximize fuel economy and save money on fuel.