How to minimize fuel consumption? The guide to fuel economy in Sri Lanka

See how to cut fuel costs in Sri Lanka through fuel monitoring system for trucks, buses, cars, and construction machinery.

The owners of businesses involved in transportation name fuel as their largest fleet expense, reaching 60% of their fleets’ operating budget. At the same time, The World Bank reports CO2 emissions to increase by 100% over the last 15 years, which makes Sri Lanka vulnerable to climate change. Considering the above, more and more businesses in Sri Lanka strive for fuel economy.

Cutting the fuel consumption for transport and production alone will have a major effect on the ecology and economics of the country. Let’s start with transport, as most of us are either vehicle owners or passengers who can contribute to the greener and wealthier country.

Switch to the most fuel-efficient cars 

There are 8.1 mln cars in Sri Lanka and you can’t replace them all for fuel economy or eco driving. But some private vehicle owners may want to upgrade their cars. According to The Hindu magazine, the TOP 5 fuel-efficient cars in the country are: 

  • Suzuki Wagon R 1.0 – 21.79 kpl
  • Suzuki Alto – 22.05 kpl
  • Renault Kwid 1.0 AMT – 22.5 kpl
  • Toyota Glanza – 23.87 kpl
  • Suzuki Baleno and Dzire AMT – 23.87 kpl

The author of this article was driving a Suzuki Alto Ene Charge and achieved fuel consumption of 4-6 l/100 km not even trying to save fuel. But private cars are not the main concern for CO2 emission reduction.   

Fuel consumption in trucks, lorries, buses, and heavy machinery

Vehicles involved in public transport, construction, cargo delivery, and distribution are the real money drainers and eco-killers when it comes to fuel. Just compare a Suzuki consuming 4-6 liters of fuel, with an average bus, truck, or lorry: 

  • Bus – 25 l/100 km
  • Lorry/Purpose vans/4WD (Diesel) – 23.8 l/100 km  
  • Truck – 35-40 l/100 km

Fuel as a business expense

According to the Minister of Energy, Sri Lanka won’t increase fuel prices despite the world trends. So let’s take the fuel prices by CEYPETCO in the long run: 

  • Lanka Petrol 92 Octane – Rs. 137/liter
  • Lanka Petrol 95 Octane Euro 4 – Rs. 161/liter
  • Lanka Auto Diesel – Rs. 104/liter
  • Lanka Super Diesel 4 Star Euro 4 – Rs. 132/liter

To describe how much money a big business spends on fuel, let’s take the example of the Sri Lanka Transport Board. SLTB reports that 4,500 buses operate in the country daily. 

  • At 60 km/h, the average bus burns 25 liters/100km.
  • Let’s say a bus does 1,000 km daily, which equals 250 liters/day.
  • The liter of the cheapest diesel costs Rs. 102, meaning that fuel spendings per bus amount to Rs. 25,500.
  • The fuel for 4,500 SLTB buses costs Rs. 114,750,00 daily
  • Only if you drive ideally at 60 km/h and 1,000 km per day.

In the case of trucks, you will spend about Rs. 18,000 to cross Sri Lanka from Matara to Jaffna (at 35 l/100 km and fueling with the cheapest diesel). 

“The optimal speed for most trucks to drive and get the best mileage may be 55 miles per hour, but most drive much faster than that.”

(c) Jan Fransoo, a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for Inc.com

What affects fuel consumption rate?

Driving style 

Diligent drivers are your company’s money-savers. They don’t get into accidents, avoid traffic tickets, and refuel their vehicles rarely. The drivers save 15% of fuel by controlling unnecessary speed, braking, and accelerations alone. ECTRI report even higher figures: 

“Recent studies have shown that in certain situations the driver’s driving style can result in differences in terms of fuel consumption (and therefore CO2 emissions) up to 40% between a calm driver and an aggressive one.”

(c) ECTRI for ResearchGate

Idling

Idling means leaving the engine on during parking, cargo unloading, or any other period when the vehicle is not moving. In most cases, drivers do it to listen to the radio or use the AC.     

The average service vehicle spends two liters of fuel per hour while idling. Two minutes of idling equal one mile driven in terms of fuel. For a truck or construction machinery, these figures skyrocket. 

“On average, service fleets idle somewhere between three to four hours a day. The average fleet vehicle burns about 1.9 liters of fuel every hour.

(c) Tom Kanewske, VP of Business Development at Derive Systems for Fleet Financials

Routes 

Optimized routes cut miles driven for every vehicle in your fleet. Even if you save a few miles per route, multiply it by the number of vehicles and fuel consumption of your truck, and you will see the difference. 

“I told them that if they would have taken this other route, they could have saved 15 miles. This might not sound like a lot to you, but when you start adding up the fuel savings, here’s what we could have saved over the course of the month if we did this every day. Tracking is huge.”

(c) Steve Doss, Cost Control Manager of Hammer Construction for Fleet Financials

Roads

Despite the previous point, the fastest or most evident routes may not be the most fuel-efficient. If you drive 1,000 km on narrow and rough roads struggling with heavy traffic and speed limits, fuel consumption will go up due to low speed and frequent brakings.  

Proper route not only cuts miles driven, but also allows driving at a constant speed. 

“Driving at 70mph uses 9% more fuel than driving at 60mph, and 15% more than driving at 50mph.”

(c) Driving Test Success

Maintenance

Here are some stats for proper maintenance affecting fuel consumption. 

  • Proper oil: +2% to fuel economy and no engine overwork.
  • Tuned engine: +4% to fuel economy.
  • New air filters: -2-6% to fuel consumption.
  • Proper wheel alignment: +10% = 8 cents less per liter due to minimized rolling resistance
  • Proper tire pressure: +3% due to lesser friction with the road.

“You can improve fuel economy by as much as 2% simply by using the proper oil.”

(c) US Department of Energy

Weight

The heavier the vehicle is, the more energy it needs to keep moving. For example, 25 kg of extra weight raises fuel consumption by 1%.

Check out some more figures about how weight affects fuel consumption. 

Drivers

Drivers can think they are underpaid and look for additional income sources. In most cases, they find additional income in fuel and vehicles they drive. 

Fuel thefts happen during parkings and stops, at the end of the workdays. It becomes possible if the company doesn’t check fuel fillings data provided by drivers versus actual mileage and vehicle use. 

But sometimes, drivers contrive to steal fuel even when the vehicle is moving or when the fuel bills are controlled through special fuel cards. See how companies detect fuel card frauds with a fuel tracking system.

Another way to lose fuel is to allow drivers to use corporate vehicles for private purposes – like passenger transport and goods delivery.

Vehicle use

Last but not least, is how your drivers use company vehicles – RPMs, AC, engine launches, etc.  

According to Fleet Financials, “restarting an engine uses the same amount of gasoline as idling for 30 seconds.” The experts recommend turning off the engine only when a stop takes more than half a minute. 

The government of Canada states that air conditioning also increases fuel consumption by 10-20%. The more spacious the vehicle’s interior is, the more it affects fuel consumption due to higher engine load. Considering the temperature in Sri Lanka, continuous AC operation may ruin all your plans for fuel economy.  

Changing gears sooner helps to reduce RPMs, which leads to lower engine load and, thus, fuel consumption. 

“If your sales associates have turned their cars into an office or if your drivers are sitting in the air conditioning between deliveries, they’re using an enormous amount of fuel — a quarter to a half-gallon (1-1.9 liters) of fuel per hour.”

(c) U.S. Department of Energy

Remote fuel monitoring systems for trucks, vehicles, vessels

A fuel management system is not some GPS software or fuel sensor, but a combination of solutions that covers all the aspects described above. Let’s get a view of the best solutions you can get. 

CIRCUMSPECTOR for driver behavior monitoring

Safe driving is what Sri Lanka needs not only for fuel economy but also for accident prevention. CIRCUMSPECTOR app addresses both issues. The software receives driving style – or G-force – data from an accelerometer in a GPS tracker. Then it analyzes the data and shows speedings, accelerations, brakings, sharp turns, reckless driving on your laptop or smartphone. 

CIRCUMSPECTOR detects traffic violations and ranks drivers of your company based on their driving style. It means that you can provide personalized training, bonuses, or penalties based on their driving behavior. 

The CIRCUMSPECTOR-based driver training and reward system now works at Brandix Sri Lanka. In 2019, at the Telematics Colombo conference, the company reported that CIRCUMSPECTOR allowed them to prevent 90% of crashes monthly, not to mention significant fuel economy.   

HEED for maintenance management

Commercial fleets in Sri Lanka mostly comprise older vehicles, so their age and condition affect fuel economy dramatically. That’s why the owners had better keep them properly maintained. Use HEED to know all service works, spare parts, and maintenance expenses in your fleet. 

HEED saves the maintenance history of your fleet for more than 400 days. The app allows taking every aspect that affects fuel consumption under control. 

For example, it tells when you changed the oil last time, which oil it was, and when to change it again. The same with filters, tires and wheels service, engine checks, etc. When the vehicle needs maintenance – after a time period or kilometers driven – HEED will alert you automatically. It will help you to cut fuel costs by keeping your fleet properly maintained.   

DISTRIBUTION for route optimization

DISTRIBUTION is a solution used by delivery and logistics companies for its advanced route optimization algorithm. If you need to get from point A to point B through points C, D, Z – DISTRIBUTION will get you there at the shortest route with minimum miles driven. It allows reducing fuel consumption through better routes.

The more vehicles there are in your fleet, the more significant fuel-savings effect you will experience.

FiOS fuel monitoring system

FiOS is a GPS tracking and fleet management system by KLOUDIP that allows tracking hundreds of parameters, including those affecting fuel consumption. It’s the ultimate solution for fuel monitoring in Sri Lanka.

Fuel tracking devices: fuel level sensors and meters

  1. Sensors show fuel consumption through changes of fuel level in the tank.
  2. Meters show fuel consumption by detecting the volume of fuel that gets through them.

FiOS GPS system gets data from fuel monitoring hardware, analyzes it, and shows fuel consumption to the user in real-time or reports. While real-time fuel consumption is simple, reports may show fuel consumption depending on various circumstances: fuel consumption vs. speed, engine load, sensors. For example, you can create a digital air conditioning sensor “On/Off” in the system. After that, you can track fuel consumption at the time when AC was “On.”

Also, fuel reports allow you to simply detect fuel fillings and thefts. When you see fuel level rise on the graph – it’s filling, if you see the fall – it’s a theft. Fuel level sensors and consumption counters in vehicles and filling stations help eliminate 90% of fuel thefts.

Fuel consumption monitoring without sensors and counters

KLOUDIP brought sensorless fuel monitoring to Sri Lanka. FiOS system calculates fuel consumption without special hardware. If you know the fuel consumption norm of your vehicle, KLOUDIP creates math formulas and coefficients for various driving circumstances (speed, RPMs, AC). It allows calculating fuel consumption accurately to milliliters without fuel tracking devices.  

Idling

FiOS detects idling if the vehicle is not moving with the engine turned on. The system tells you which vehicles were idling, for how long, and where. In most cases, this data is enough to see the reasons for idling and understand if it was reasonable or not. 

Additionally, you can see the time intervals between engine launches and AC use to optimize fuel consumption even more. 

Weight

FiOS gets data from axle load and weight sensors that may be installed in the vehicle. Based on this information, the system will alert you if the vehicle is overloaded or will use weight as a coefficient for fuel consumption calculation.  

Roads

In Sri Lanka, narrow roads and speed limits become the real obstacle to fuel economy. In FiOS, you can mark roads with line geofences. For example, if you know the road is too rough, narrow, destroyed, or dangerous, you can mark them with a geofence line. When a vehicle enters this geofence, the system will alert you that the transport is taking an unauthorized route.  

Vice versa, you can mark the top-choice road by the same geofence and set recommended speed limits, RPMs, restrict stops and do everything to minimize fuel consumption on the road.

Private trips

FiOS can detect if a corporate vehicle is used for private purposes by entering work hours for it.

If the engine is on and the vehicle is moving after work hours, then it’s used for private purposes. FiOS will show you fuel and mileage during after-work hours so that you allocate the fuel spent to the personal use category. 

Nearest vehicle

FiOS can locate the vehicle closest to the client, warehouse, service point, or emergency situation. When you send the nearest vehicle instead of a random one, you minimize mileage and fuel spent for each vehicle.

Now you know how to control fuel expenses and cut fuel costs in your company. The matter depends on the right tool. Get your remote fuel monitoring system on kloudip.com.

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