Category: "fuel management"

11/18/08

In our trucking industry blog, I just posted an article discussing my thoughts on whether or not diesel fuel prices will continue to trend down, and how a trucking company can prepare for a possible upward trend in diesel prices.

This article is meant to further expand my thoughts specifically on trucking software's role in assisting a trucking company to manage fuel purchases and fuel surcharges.

Suggesting Fuel Purchases

A good trucking software system should be able to suggest truck stops along all of your routes. It should factor in the current diesel price at each truck stop, how far out of route it is, what the net cost per gallon is after road and fuel taxes. It should be capable of sending the fuel stops to the driver via mobile communication device right along with dispatch information. It's also nice if it can allow drivers to select truck stops with amenities that they desire, on demand. The TruckMaster Fuel Finder can do this for you for free, should your software not be capable.

As an alternative to this, a trucking software system should at least be able to interface to an external fuel optimization service. These services can be expensive, but can also take into account the optimal fuel level to achieve the highest mpg, typically at the cost of the driver's ability to choose his actual stop.

Monitoring Fuel Purchases

Trucking software should allow a trucking company to assign fuel card numbers to each tractor and/or driver. It should be very easy to change a fuel card assignment to another tractor or driver as often as the need arises.

There should be a stable interface to your fuel service provider, whether that be Comdata, MultiService, EFS, or whatever service you choose to use, that downloads fuel purchase information in real-time, or at least daily. The trucking software provider should have interfaces with all of the major fuel service providers, and the ability to add more as more are introduced to the industry.

When the information is received from the fuel service, it will include the diesel and/or reefer purchase, advances, sales tax, oil, winter charges, etc. All of this data should directly flow into the accounting portion of the trucking software so that it doesn't need to be double-entered, thereby reducing opportunities for keystroke errors.

The trucking software system will be able to match up the transaction with the tractor and/or driver by the fuel card that was used, and should also be able to determine the particular trip to apply it to, automatically, although you need to be able to manually override the trip selection due to overlapping trips, prior entry errors, etc.

The trucking software system should maintain a constant rolling average mpg for each tractor, as well as each driver where a driver may be assigned to multiple tractors. Any drastic variances in mpg should be flagged to the entry clerk, as it could indicate tractor engine problems, dumped fuel, etc.

The trucking software should be able to inform the entry clerk of out of route miles, specifically when pertaining to visits to truck stops. You would be amazed at some of the cases we've seen over the past 18 years of miles racked up by drivers visiting truck stops for that special amenity or café waitress. This needs to be identifiable, even if not specifically disallowed by the trucking company.

Fuel Surcharge Management

Trucking software should make it easily identifiable which customers do, and which customers do not, have fuel surcharge agreements in place.

It should be extremely easy to maintain these fuel surcharges, to the point of having the fuel cost average indexes automatically updated where possible. It should allow multiple customers to use the same fuel surcharge settings, as well as multiple surcharges for one customer.

The software should have safeguards to prevent wrongly calculated surcharge amounts, and more importantly missed surcharges on invoices. Wrongly calculated surcharge amounts are sure to slow down your revenue collection, and there is no better way to lose your profit than to forget to include surcharges when billing a load.

TruckMaster trucking software of course does all of these things, and much more.


These are my thoughts on how trucking software should help a trucking company manage their largest expendable commodity, diesel fuel.

I welcome your feedback on my thoughts. I hope you find my post accurate and relevant.

Greg Dodson
President
TruckMaster Logistics Systems, Inc.
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company™


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