Fuel costs often represent one of the most burdensome overhead expenditures for fleet owners, but route optimization software can offer a much-needed element of financial protection.
Because diesel prices have a reputation for fluctuating on a seasonal - sometimes even monthly - basis, companies that specialize in completing ground transportation shipments are often quick to point the finger when they incur higher costs than anticipated. Such is the reasoning behind a variety of lawsuits in recent years that have targeted fuel suppliers for overcharging truckers and freight businesses. According to Truckinginfo, these so-called "hot fuel" cases first appeared in 2006, after enterprises and consumer advocate groups alleged that diesel and gasoline retailers took advantage of the natural tendency of liquid fuel volume to expand and contract in relation to temperature changes by failing to adjust prices accordingly. As a result, the plaintiffs were worried that they were spending more money for less energy.
Lawyers are dismissing 'hot fuel' cases
Overdrive magazine reported that many of these cases have been dropped in the last few weeks and months. In fact, Kansas City Business Journal reported that this month, plaintiff lawyers agreed to dismiss 22 remaining "hot fuel" cases. The publication revealed that since 2006, 56 separate lawsuits had been filed. A significant majority of those have since gone unresolved. In other cases, retailers such as Costco and Wal-Mart have reached settlements and agreed to install pump technology that automatically accounts for the fluctuation in fuel volume.
Avoiding the high cost of diesel is a major priority for many fleet owners that operate heavy-duty vehicles. The current economy has made it difficult for businesses to operate successfully while incurring large overhead expenditures. Many organizations are already struggling to retain drivers and full-time employees, which makes the strain of price volatility even worse. However, instead of placing the blame on other organizations, freight carriers can take matters into their own hands by thinking more strategically about the ways they use fuel.
Technology helps ground transportation companies readjust to lower spending
Automated tools such as route optimization software have the potential to lift small and midsize enterprises out of this rut. Focusing on ways to reduce time spent on the road may be one of the most effective strategies for fuel optimization and boosting the overall efficiency of a distribution organization. Managers who fail to frame their daily operations into a bigger picture that takes into account fuel prices, weather and other external factors are missing out on an important opportunity to shed waste and save significant amounts of money in the future.
A direct route software program can instead equip a business with a long list of tools that make fuel optimization easier, meet scheduled deadlines and increase profits. For example, fleet owners can not only find ways to perform multiple deliveries in one trip, but they can also create customized fuel conservation plans that lead to immediate cost savings. The automated nature of the technology even allows business owners to have a better view of internal compliance with these plans so that training and managing employees with the standards is easier than ever before.
Moving products across highways throughout the country requires active participation and collaboration from a number of individuals, including drivers, fleet managers and the customers receiving the shipments. Advanced route optimization software breaks down the barriers between these separate parties and creates a more streamlined approach to delivering goods long distances. This will allow small and medium-sized companies to benefit from lower overhead fuel costs, which will in turn lead to increased flexibility and growth in the future.