fuel-management-fuel-theftNo one is more acutely aware of uncertain, rising fuel costs than those managing transportation or fueling operations. For most, fuel represents your second-highest budget line. It’s a lot of money, for any size company. And that makes effective fuel management crucial to business success.

Some things are easier to control than others, but theft is one area where you can make significant improvements that go straight to your bottom line. For the average fueling operation, fuel theft accounts for about three percent of your fuel budget. Aside from the actual savings, reducing or eliminating theft gives you one less thing to worry about, too.

Costs associated with fuel losses actually related to more than outright theft. You  undoubtedly experience a certain amount of misallocation, not to mention the occasional mysterious disappearances you just can’t account for. Often that’s due to the inherent inefficiencies of manual record-keeping.

These seven tips can help you reduce theft and other losses.

1. Investing in a comprehensive fuel management system allows you to follow your fuel from initial purchase through storage and dispensing. You can track fueling by vehicle as well as your overall fleet. Plotting usage trends enables you to quickly uncover irregularities and create a fueling history for ongoing analysis. Letting technology work for you gives you better “business intel” and makes more productive use of everyone’s time.

2. Consider adding Automotive Information Modules (AIM) to your automated fuel management system. That will make the entire fueling process hands-free, giving you comprehensive control over dispensing and completely eliminating the possibility of theft, misdirection or waste.

3. Use your fuel management system to track every step of your fueling process. That will help:

  • Eliminate drivers forgetting to collect data.
  • Greatly reduce or eliminate mistakes caused by human error that result in spotty or mistaken record-keeping.
  • Eliminate the opportunity to steal or spill.
  • Eliminate the ability to dispense incorrect fuel.
  • Collect more and more detailed information than typical driver-manual process procedures. You can monitor fuel usage to prevent losses through off-route excursions or unauthorized personal use of vehicles. You can improve fuel  consumption by uncovering opportunities to teach drivers more economical driving techniques. The savings add up.

4. Do the math. Do you actually know what you’re losing and what it’s costing you? Anecdotal information can alert you to problems, but you need to know the numbers – direct costs of fuel gone missing one way or another, but also indirect costs of labor, time, etc. You might be shocked at the actual numbers, especially if your fleet includes more than just a few vehicles. Replacing anecdotal information with financial facts will help you enhance decision-making, planning and forecasting.

5. Work with a fuel management expert to ensure your entire operation is geared toward efficient fuel storage and usage, including monitoring your tanks to be sure they aren’t vulnerable to theft or accidental spillage. Ask your expert to help conduct a fuel needs assessment to identify where and how you can capture additional efficiencies and savings throughout your fueling processes, not just regarding theft prevention.

6. Develop specific fueling policies so everyone is on the same page. And get everyone involved in eliminating theft. Their job may be at stake if continuing losses make you unprofitable.

7. Note that a fuel management system can help you eliminate “productivity theft” that can be as costly as the loss of fuel itself—issues such as curtailed fleet performance or shortened vehicle lifespan. Instead, the data you automatically collect while dispensing fuel can help you easily adhere to maintenance schedules and receive alerts to engine error codes, so you can make repairs get worse.

Savvy fuel management can help you reduce theft. And who knows? The productivity gains you make could very well help you generate more income.

Who could argue with that?

Photo Credit: eyeliam via Flickr