By using telematics, CNG vehicles can reap the benefits and enjoy the positive impact to their bottom line that a robust fleet management solution provides.

By Scott Sutarik

It is a well-known fact that fuel is one of the industry’s largest expenses. And, with new regulations around fuel consumption and GHG emissions, calling for a 10 to 20 percent reduction, more fleets are beginning to implement telematics solutions for better fuel efficiency and some have begun to investigate and transition to alternative fuels altogether.

Implementing a telematics system will not only help you better track fuel levels and usage, but it can also help optimize your fuel spending through driver coaching around behaviors such as speeding, idling, harsh braking and more, which are known to increase fuel usage. Whether fleets have been using telematics for years, or are beginning to recognize its benefits, the availability to CNG vehicles thus far has been limited. To date, the vast majority of telematics systems lack the ability to accurately measure CNG level and compensate for temperature within the vehicle for proper fuel level readings. This leaves fleet managers in the dark regarding available range and accurate fuel levels, highlighting key issues and developments that should not be overlooked when considering a switch to CNG.

Measuring Fuel Levels and Usage

Currently, remotely understanding fuel levels within the vehicle and having visibility into the amount of fuel received due to the mass connected systems at CNG slow fill stations has not been possible. This leaves drivers often experiencing range anxiety. It is important to look for ways to get an accurate picture of your fuel levels and establish range limits to ensure that everyone understands, and to avoid any costly downtime. This is where telematics comes in. With telematics, fleets gain insight into fuel usage, accurate fuel fill-up data and driver behavior, enabling them to track trends and optimize overall spend.

Filling up

Not every CNG fueling station is created equal. They vary in price of the fuel, pressure, flow rates, location and space available to park, which is especially important for larger fleet vehicles. In fact, an average slow fill CNG vehicle fill up can take anywhere between eight to 10 hours. Additionally, with a currently limited network of CNG stations, it is integral for fleets to know whether they will have access along their routes, how long a typical fill takes and the quality of the CNG fuel provided to ensure that they can make all of their stops without losing time.

With telematics you can set zones for CNG stations, delivery and pickup locations and more, and find the most efficient route to get you from point A to point B. Using telematics to understand fuel levels within the vehicle and how much it actually receives when filling up promises increased vehicle uptime, timely deliveries, and reduced anxiety around fuel levels for fleet managers and drivers.

CNG with Telematics

In combination with effective driver coaching initiatives, telematics can minimize aggressive driving behaviors and reduce fuel costs by as much as 14 percent. With these new technologies, CNG vehicles can also reap the benefits and enjoy the positive impact to their bottom line that a robust fleet management solution provides.

Scott Sutarik is the Associate Vice President, Commercial Vehicle Solutions at Geotab (Oakville, ON). He has extensive experience within the truck manufacturing industry, specializing in medium duty and heavy-duty trucks. He previously worked in sales and marketing at Navistar Inc. where he supported more than 700 dealerships, worked with suppliers and telematics providers, and managed the OnCommand Connection Program. With his expertise in telematics, regulatory compliance, engine diagnostics, and alternative fueled vehicles, Scott provides training and works with Geotab’s partners to develop leading-edge fleet management solutions for the trucking industry. For more information, e-mail testdrive@geotab.com.

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