Do you want to become a fuel-efficient HGV driver? If so, this is the article for you. In this article, we share some great tips and offer helpful advice on how to operate your HGV more effectively.
Most professional lorry drivers understand the importance of fuel efficiency these days. Many logistics operators use software to monitor many metrics in their vehicles, but fuel-efficient has always been one of the more important ones.
With fuel costs hitting an all-time high, the issue has probably never been more important than it is today with every fleet operator looking for novel ways to minimise their fuel bill.
Whilst we all like to think of ourselves as experts in the field of fuel economy, some of the tips we are going to talk about in this post may surprise you.
Read on to find out more from both the drivers’ and fleet managers’ perspectives.
Fleet Manager Fuel Efficiency Tips:
It is an unavoidable fact in logistics, that the highest cost of any journey is usually the fuel, so it is especially important to minimise fuel wastage on every journey. Companies that have set routes and repeat deliveries should be prepared to make changes as circumstances change.
The time of day and therefore traffic, the terrain itself and even the weather can all affect fuel efficiency, and whilst they can’t always be mitigated, very often they can.
It is also important to remember that the shortest distance on a map may not be the most fuel-efficient route. It is always worth getting drivers’ opinions on alternative routes as well as studying journey telematics data, and operators should have the will and flexibility to make changes when needed.
#2 – HGV Vehicle Maintenance
Keeping an HGV in good roadworthy condition is not just a safety issue, but also an efficiency issue too. Vehicle maintenance is expensive, but there are many checks that can be done cheaply and have a big impact on fuel burn.
Checking tyre pressures are correct is the simplest and cheapest thing an operator can do to avoid wasting fuel, as even being 10psi out can reduce efficiency by nearly 2%. It is also advisable to regularly check the wheel and tyre alignment.
Vehicles should also be checked regularly for fuel leaks, and anything that might affect the aerodynamics of the truck, such as loose bodywork or torn curtains. Newer HGVs now offer aerodynamic features that could result in fuel savings of around 10%.
Regular maintenance checks are also important as an efficient engine is essential. Drivers themselves should be mindful of changes in engine noise, warning lights and any noises that may indicate brakes are dragging or the steering is pulling when moving off.
HGV Driver Fuel-Efficiency Tips
HGV drivers themselves play perhaps the biggest part in achieving fuel efficiency. How you drive directly affects the amount of fuel you use, and if you are an efficient driver, your company will value you more because you are saving them money.
#3 – Defensive Driving
Defensive driving techniques are not just about safety. Driving your HGV with the right attitude will make you more aware of what is going on around you, which in turn will make you more cautious. You will react to things more quickly, which should correlate to a less erratic driving style.
#4 – Heavy and Unnecessary Braking
Most HGV drivers know that heavy and unnecessary braking means a loss of speed that will require more gear changes and the use of fuel. Harsh braking can also result in your load moving, which can lead to fuel inefficiency.
If your HGV is equipped with an exhaust brake, use it, and if you find yourself in slow-moving traffic, try to maintain a constant slightly slower speed that avoids accelerating and then having to brake as you meet the vehicles in front.
Use your momentum wherever possible, and slow down gradually when approaching an obstacle such as traffic lights, you may not need to stop completely, as pulling away from a standing start uses lots of fuel!
#5 – Use Your Gears Appropriately
It is widely accepted that the fewer gear changes you make, the less fuel you burn. When getting up to speed in an HGV, the quicker you move up through the gears the better, Use skip (or block) changes wherever possible.
Every time you go up a gear in an HGV, your fuel efficiency goes up by anything up to 30%!
#6 – Cruise Control
Cruise control limits unnecessary acceleration and deceleration which can lead to a 5% increase in fuel efficiency.
This is because bumpy roads actually cause a driver’s foot to move very slightly on the accelerator, causing minute increases in acceleration which over the course of a journey all add up.
#7 – HGV Vehicle Speed
The optimum speed for an HGV has been calculated to be 52mph for maximum fuel efficiency and minimum pollution.
Many HGVs are now fitted with a limiter set to 56 mph, but every 1 mph over the most efficient speed of 52mph results in a 0.14mpg decrease in fuel efficiency.
With HGV mileage varying from anywhere between 8mpg and 17mpg, that 0.14mpg could represent quite a saving.
#8 – Avoid Engine Idling
Stop-start technology is not generally available in HGVs, so drivers should get into the habit of switching off their engines if stuck in traffic for any length of time. An HGV will burn about a gallon of fuel an hour when idling.
#9 – Walk Around Checks
HGV drivers’ daily walk-around checks include many safety and reliability items, so tyre pressures and bodywork should be getting checked daily. These can dramatically affect fuel efficiency.
#10 – HGV Vehicle Loading
Any professional HGV driver knows that overloading an HGV is not only illegal; but also has an unfavourable effect on fuel consumption.
However, the position of a load can also affect it. Loads should always be well-secured and as evenly distributed as possible.
#11 – Fuel Efficiency in The Yard
As an HGV driver when you come back to the yard, there are several simple steps you can take to save fuel the following day.
If you need to fill up, you should do it on your return while the engine is warm, and hopefully, there is less of a queue for pumps. It is important to get your engine up to temperature quickly as fuel efficiency can be 40% lower when warming up.
Similarly, park your HGV in a position where it won’t need much manoeuvring the next days when it is cold, and can just pull away.
We hope you have found this article useful, and maybe have learnt something new about fuel efficiency. There is increasing pressure on drivers in the current climate to make savings where they can, and it will likely help your career overall if you gain a reputation for being fuel efficient.
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If you’re a professional HGV driver looking for a new role, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us about our latest HGV driving opportunities, call Optimum Driving Group on 01908 018072 for more details.