Hauling refrigerated loads entails many costs. Some of these expenses are fixed costs, such as the cost of running your refrigerated unit on continuous for the duration of your trip, paying driver wages, insurance, tires, etc. But, there are other costs that some might think of as “fixed” which are actually variable, and as such, can be reduced. Here’s 4 effective way you can lower the costs of refrigerated food transport for your company:
1) Streamline fuel consumption costs
- Make your vehicle more aerodynamic – there are many ways to make your truck more aerodynamic. One easy way is to cover your wheel hubs. Hub manufacturers estimate 1.5 to 3% in fuel savings when all outside-facing wheels are outfitted with these devices, which smooth airflow across the wheels.
- Change your driving habits – practicing no idling whenever you can is always a great way to save money on fuel. In addition, adjusting your shifting patterns can increase fuel economy. To do so, download engine data to compare shifting behaviors – rpms at shift point – to the optimal rpm “torque bands” for your engine. Adjusting your shifting to fit the engine’s make and model can make a big difference. Every 1,000 rpms reduction in engine speed delivers a 1% fuel economy gain. Further more, another easy way to streamline your fuel consumption costs is to maintain an extended following distance, which helps prevent unnecessary acceleration due to frequent braking.
- Analyze Fuel Consumption Trends – if your mpg rating falls, try to determine the cause. Is it related to somewhat justifiable factors such as more urban driving and longer hauls? Or is it related to a factor that can be controlled, such as a maintenance problem? Remember, as a rule, drops of more than 0.5 mpg are typically due to maintenance problems!!!
Check our past blog post, Fuel Saving Tips for Drivers, for more information on how you can streamline your fuel consumption costs.
2) Budget and record expenses
Budgeting and recording your expenses forces you to take a hard look at where you are losing money. The easiest way to do this is to create a spreadsheet that tracks your fixed costs, and your variable costs against your weekly/monthly income. This is often called a profit and loss analysis, or an operating cost analysis. The OOIDA has a great resource for carrier companies to figure out their operating costs (cost per mile). Check out the Education Tools, Cost Per Mile on their site. At the bottom of the page is a downloadable excel file that has all the calculations and areas you should need to track.
Once you know how much you are currently spending, you can budget for the future. In addition, you will discover areas where you can reduce your expenses. Many items in the variable expenses area that can be reduced, such as the fuel costs mentioned above.
Effective maintenance practices will keep your overall operating costs down. A study by the American Transportation Research Institute in 2017 marked truckload repair and maintenance costs at $0.13 per mile. This cost is dependent on the age of your vehicle and what technologies you have installed. However, one way to keep this cost in line is to reduce the instances where repair is needed, by boosting maintenance.
A basic daily preventative maintenance checklist should be performed at the start of every trip. They include checking tires, lights, turn signals, and hazard flashers to ensure all in good working order. It is also key to pay attention to basic warning signs and unusual noises.
Our post, The Only Preventative Maintenance Checklist for Diesel Trucks, is a great resource that outlines the routine maintenance areas that should be attended to for both truck and trailers.
4) Get on board with technology
While some drivers may believe that adding technology to your motor vehicle will ultimately add expenses to their operations, there are many benefits that technology can offer that will outweigh the initial technological expense. Here are a few areas where technology can work to reduce the costs of refrigerated food transport:
- GPS assisted routing – GPS devices provide real time traffic updates and historical traffic data that can improve mileage, especially while travelling in metropolitan areas.
- Leveraging Wi-Fi where possible – save on your data bills by accessing Wi-Fi whenever available, many truck stops and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi – use this time to check in with family members and look at social media. In addition, if you notice in your operating expenses tracking that you are consistently going over your monthly data limit, contact your provider to see if there is another data package available to cover these extra costs.
- ELDs – we know this is a hot topic in the industry right now, and yes, there are a lot of extra costs associated with installing the devices (initial device purchase, installation costs, monthly subscription services). But be reminded, these devices are mandatory and as of April, roadside inspectors will start issuing fines for non-compliance. That is an extra cost that can easily be avoided by adhering to the regulation. In addition, ELDs can also work to help reduce the costs of transportation. There are savings that are attributed to not having to file paperwork each year, since the device transmits this information directly. The estimated savings on paperwork are approximately $700 per year. In addition, there is the time savings, from drivers not having to fill out paper logs and forwarding these to carrier companies. This saved time can be transferred to driving time, with ELD manufacturers estimating an extra 15 minutes of driving time per driver per day.
So, there you have it. 4 simple ways to lower the costs of refrigerated food transport for your company. By keeping an eye on fuel, budgets & expenses, maintenance, and technology, any driver can be sure that they are taking a cost-smart approach to their trucking.