When a project or job is in motion, jobsite equipment is crucial to the company’s success.
When a project or job is in motion, jobsite equipment is crucial to the company’s success. Companies are that much more successful when said equipment uses less fuel.
“Fuel is by far the number one operating cost of owning a machine,” noted Scott Leslie, CESP, construction technology support specialist at Ransome Cat in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. And the number one killer of efficient fuel usage, said Leslie? Idle time.
Consider implementing a 5-minute idle rule. If a unit has to idle for more than 5 minutes for whatever reason — while waiting for debris placement by other machines or during a shift change, for instance — shut it down. In cold weather, keep the cab warm with a cab heater instead of running a machine’s enormous diesel engine, at about $3 a gallon, for a few square feet of heat.
Supervisors should watch how the equipment is engaged to make sure fuel isn’t being wasted. They should lay out direct routes between tasks on site, for fill-and-dumps, for example, and train operators to take them.
Telematics can help supervisors understand how equipment is being used. It monitors ECMs (electronic control modules) on a machine and collects data — on routes taken, for instance. It can even send a supervisor a text message if the machine is being used off-hours. According to Leslie, it’s more common than you think for Contractor A to “borrow” (without permission) a machine from Contractor B to use over a weekend and return it with an empty tank.
Improper job matching is another fuel eater according to Leslie. “Make sure you’ve got the right machine on site and you’re not just making do with what you have. In the worst case, contractors damage very expensive equipment while burning more fuel than necessary using a machine not optimized to the task.”
Operators should check that ground-engaging teeth and blades are job-matched and sharp enough to work efficiently.
Finally, equipment and fleet managers can stay on top of fuel saving techniques with career development courses and certifications via the Association of Equipment Management Professionals.
Mark Clement (www.MyFixitUpLife.com) is a tool expert, licensed contractor, author and tradeshow and live event presenter.