Improving the sustainability of commercial fleets

By Anita Jaynes on 10 February, 2023

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The phasing out of diesel vehicles from 2030 onwards as part of the UK Government’s drive towards net zero emissions has placed the spotlight on fleet managers and the environmental impact of commercial vehicles. As a fleet manager, it is now more important than ever to consider your fleet’s  sustainability and to find strategies to reduce the environmental impact on the road to net zero.

There are four activities fleet managers should consider when looking to reduce the CO2 emissions of their fleet:

1 – Multi-drop route planning

For commercial fleets that make multiple stops on a route whether for a delivery or a service-related activity at each stop, then  multi-drop route planning software is a great way to boost efficiency and decrease the environmental impact. Using route optimisation and dynamic scheduling software to quickly and automatically generate routes will minimise unnecessary travel, fuel consumption and emissions, while improving delivery density and lowering the miles travelled per stop. 

Taking into account factors such as traffic, road conditions and delivery times to determine the quickest and most fuel-efficient route, route optimisation software will create the most efficient delivery route possible, ensuring that deliveries are made in the most cost-effective sequence. Delivery times can be reduced, by avoiding backtracking and duplicated trips, allowing drivers to make more deliveries in a day, enhancing overall productivity and route density. This not only helps to reduce CO2 emissions and meet sustainability goals, but also provides a competitive advantage in an increasingly environmentally conscious market.

Investing in dedicated software to expertly plan delivery routes, will not only reduce emissions and help commercial road transport operators achieve their sustainability goals and  save  time and money in the process.

2 – Greener Vehicles and Vehicle Telematics

Opting for greener vehicles where possible seems like an obvious way of reducing the   impact of a commercial fleet. Electric, hybrid, and hydrogen vehicles are becoming more popular, because they emit significantly less emissions than regular diesel vehicles. Replacing all the older, less efficient vehicles with newer, more environmentally friendly models, will reduce the overall emissions of the fleet. However, since replacing all the vehicles in a fleet at once is not practicable nor financially feasible for many fleets, it will be necessary to replace vehicles over time and when their leases expire, or they reach end of their commercial use.

Vehicle telematics software can provide a fleet manager with valuable data and insights, helping them to identify the best diesel vehicles to replace first with more environmentally friendly vehicles. 

Telematics data can include, but is not limited to, vehicle utilisation, usage patterns, fuel consumption and emissions. Simply knowing how existing vehicles are used, their fuel consumption and thus emission levels, will help a fleet manager identify the vehicles that are most suitable for  replacement.

Telematics software will also provide information on the maintenance requirements of each vehicle, while at the same time providing insights into a driver’s behaviour such as hard acceleration or harsh braking and cornering, all of which leads to poor fuel consumption and emissions. This can help a fleet manager understand which drivers may need additional training and which vehicles are costing the most to maintain.

3 – Vehicle Maintenance

Optimising vehicle maintenance is a factor in reducing a commercial fleet’s environmental impact. Regular maintenance, such as engine tuning and tyre pressure checks, can improve fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Maintaining vehicles correctly extends their lifespan, reduces the need for early replacement of vehicles and reduces their emissions.

While a telematics software is a key technology in optimising vehicle maintenance and enabling fleet managers to keep a track of their vehicles in real-time, this can not supplement the legally required daily vehicles safety checks. Fleet managers can take advantage of solutions such as Descartes’ SmartCheck appto ensure that drivers conduct their daily vehicle checks. Using a smart phone to record the checks, in accordance with the DVSA’s requirements, the solution enables the information to be digitally recorded for easy notification of defects, storage and retrieval  of vehicle check data should the DVSA ever need to see it.

4 – Monitoring Vehicle CO2 Emissions

Finally, it is important to review your fleet’s current CO2 emissions. High levels of CO2 emissions contribute to global climate change and air pollution, which can have negative impacts on health and the environment.

By regularly monitoring and tracking emissions, you can identify vehicles for improvement and take action to reduce them. This could include introducing eco-driving training for your drivers or making changes to your delivery routes to reduce the amount of travel required.

In conclusion, there are several steps that fleet managers can take now to reduce the environmental impact of their fleets and reduce CO2 emissions. From route optimisation and multi-drop route planning software solutions to the adoption of greener vehicles, and optimising vehicle maintenance to reviewing emissions there are many ways to achieve a more sustainable fleet. By taking advantage of technology and acting now a fleet manager can help to ensure that their commercial fleet is fit for the future, ready to meet the sustainability goals of 2030 and remain competitive in an ever-changing market.