Technology helps fleet managers meet changing fuel standards

Route optimization software can help fleet managers comply with shifting regulations regarding fuel usage. Variable fuel costs are a significant challenge for logistics companies because they make it difficult to accurately forecast overhead expenses. However, heavy-duty trucks may be the target of new federal regulations that aim to reduce greenhouse gases. 

In his recent State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama discussed his plans for reducing the negative impacts of climate change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be tasked with drafting new fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016. These new regulations will set the standard for vehicles manufactured between 2014 and 2018. According to a fact sheet from the White House, heavy-duty trucks accounted for 25 percent of fuel usage and greenhouse-gas emissions in the transportation industry. The initial fuel standards, which were released in 2011, will reduce oil consumption and emissions. This could ultimately save fleet managers approximately $50 billion in fuel expenses during the lifetime of heavy-duty vehicles. New trucks on the road will be more efficient, allowing logistics companies to reduce fuel spend.

Challenges of changing regulations
However, this transition may impact overall productivity in the short term because fleet managers will not be able to update all their vehicles immediately. Heavy-duty vehicles will be required to meet increasingly higher fuel economy standards. While this will result in cost savings in the long run, it will present difficulties for fleet managers who handle older heavy-duty vehicles. 

However, improving fuel efficiency in the transportation sector will enable companies to pass the savings along to consumers, a report from The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) found, according to online publication Truckinginfo. The EPA's new regulations could reduce fuel use by 50 percent and save U.S. shoppers billions of dollars each year.

"Consumers also pay the cost of commercial transportation fuel in the price of the goods and services they buy," Dr. Mark Cooper, the CFA's director of research and author of the report, toldTruckinginfo. "As such, reducing the energy consumption of big truck fleets will have a positive impact on household expenditures."

Before the new fuel standards take effect, fleet managers can utilize routing software to more effectively map deliveries and start using less fuel. This can help logistics firms be more prepared for changes in the industry.