When you’re fighting to keep owning and operating costs as low as possible, just tracking fuel consumption won’t give you the insights you need. You need to know what you earn in addition to what you burn. Fuel efficiency measures how much work a machine can do with one gallon of fuel.
What can you do to improve it? Experts suggest you consider these four variables at your site, all of which affect how fuel is consumed. By taking steps to control your fuel burn rate, you may also find ways to increase production, which could increase your overall fuel efficiency.
- Understand machine application. In a difficult load-and-carry application (in a sand-and-gravel pit, for instance) a loader might burn 60-100% more fuel than the same machine in a truck-loading application in an aggregates yard. When you compare two machines, make sure that the machine application demands are similar.
- Evaluate operator technique. An operator maintaining an aggressive truck-loading cycle of 20 seconds or less can cause the machine to burn 60-80% more fuel than the same machine working at a more moderate pace, such as 30 seconds per cycle. Do a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether shorter cycle times or reduced fuel burn is more advantageous to your bottom line.
- Manage idle time. Industry research indicates that idle time of 30-40% is common for machines in North America. If you have two similar machines doing similar work, and one is burning six gallons per hour and the other is burning 12 gallons per hour, take a look at the idle-time column.
- Configure machines for efficiency. Don’t overlook or under-utilize machine features like these that can diminish your fuel burn rate:
- Productivity and equipment management technologies
- Power-dense engines (more performance, less weight)
- Eco or economy modes that help manage engine speed and fuel consumption
- Engine-idle-management/auto-shutdown/cool-down systems
- Load-sensing hydraulics; lock-up-clutch torque converter
- Hybrid energy recovery systems
- System-designed controls, buckets and work tools