Questions Effective Fleet Managers Will Ask Their Fuel Supplier

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Author: Wayne Ellary, ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Commercial Fuels Marketing Manager

The pace of change in the truck and bus industry continues to grow rapidly, leaving fleet managers across Australia and New Zealand having to work tirelessly in an effort to stay one step ahead of new technologies. The diesel fuel space is no exception, and many fleets have realised the potential benefits of working even more closely with their fuel supplier to ensure they are using the right product for their fleet.

In fact, according to the Asia Pacific Fleet Management Market Analysis (2017-2023) report*, fleets in the region are set to grow with companies adding more vehicles to meet the demands of production, sales and supply. Therefore, an increase in fleet size is likely to contribute to a surge in costs and maintenance efforts with fleet managers expected to manage the responsibility of finding operational efficiencies.

When consulting with a fuel supplier ‒ or even looking for a new partner in the space ‒ it can be easy to ask the standard questions, while overlooking some key areas regarding performance, maintenance, logistics and the general industry at large, given the mindset that ‘diesel is just diesel’ remains prevalent.

Beginning a dialogue to better understand the products and services suppliers provide, and what will best meet your fleet’s needs, can be vital in determining a fleet’s success.

  1. How is my product handled, stored and transported?

Fuel can be easily contaminated. For example, a common on-site storage issue is the presence of water in the tanks, which can lead to bacterial growth in the fuel. In turn, the bacterial growth can result in filter plugging issues that can translate into added downtime, and, overall decreased fleet efficiency.

Having a conversation with your supplier about their regulatory awareness, safety focus and qualifications for the carriers who store and handle its products can lead to peace of mind and help build trust.

  1. Should I use an additised diesel? Will it cost more?

While an additised diesel product will cost more than a base diesel fuel at the onset, it is a superior product that is designed to typically lower fuel consumption, emissions and improve both power and responsiveness, among other benefits.

While the product itself is more expensive, the performance benefits additised diesel provides are designed to increase a fleet’s overall efficiency. This can, in turn, help the fleet meet sustainability goals and help reduce the long-term total cost of ownership of each vehicle.

  1. Does your product provide performance benefits?

An additised diesel will help maintain optimal performance in the engine’s fuel system. This translates to fuel savings, better power, and cleaner combustion when compared to trucks and buses running unadditised diesel fuel. Protecting the fuel system with detergent can also help increase a fleet’s overall efficiency.

Oftentimes, fleets are not too concerned about the diesel they use, in large part because their vehicles’ engines are under warranty. However, even though the maintenance may be covered, taking the truck or bus off the road remains costly.

In fact, more advanced, additised diesel offerings can also work to provide benefits to those circumstances that are not covered under warranty, such as premature fuel filter plugging.

Over time, realising these benefits from a high-performing, additised diesel can lower the total cost of ownership and upkeep across a fleet. Reducing the number of trips to the shop can provide more efficiency across operations and a stronger return on investment.

  1. How are additives administered into your product?

While a base diesel product will come ready to use, if a fleet wants to use a more advanced product ‒ such as an additised diesel ‒ that fuel offering may vary in terms of how the additives are mixed with the fuel. The preferred way is to receive the additive injected into the diesel by your supplier. This assures the product is properly mixed to meet performance expectations in your engines. While there are alternative ways of putting additives into fuel, care should be taken to ensure the fuel is homogenous and properly dosed. In particular, hand dosing is not recommended.

Inadequate mixing can result in filter plugging from undissolved additives; under-dosing is likely to result in underperformance versus claims, while overdosing could potentially lead to operational issues. It’s important to ask for proof that the additive and fuel are homogenous and the additive concentration is within specification.

  1. Should I be looking at alternative fuel options?

While alternative fuels have become more popular in recent years, we do not expect diesel use to dwindle anytime soon. In fact, we expect the opposite. According to ExxonMobil’s 2017 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040, diesel use will continue to rise globally by approximately 30 percent through 2040, in large part to meet increasing trucking demands*2, primarily in Asia Pacific.

As diesel formulations continue to evolve, advanced diesel products ‒ such as additised diesel ‒ will continue to offer impressive fuel economy and maintenance benefits while reducing emissions.

  1. How do you test to ensure your fuel meets product specifications?

It is essential for the wellbeing of your fleet that the diesel fuel meets all relevant product specifications and all diesel fuel suppliers should be well aware that this is the case.

That said, a leading fuel supplier will have a robust product testing methodology in place, reinforcing their commitment to product integrity. If the fuel supplier’s testing parameters go beyond what is required, even better — that may indicate the supplier is dedicated to providing you with quality diesel fuel that goes above and beyond industry specifications, adding an extra level of protection.

Why it Matters

ExxonMobil recommends combining the right diesel fuel supply with the highest quality service and fuel supplier can have big benefits for fleets in today’s transportation landscape, which include improving a fleet’s overall efficiency, uptime and performance, fleet managers can help realize business benefits in the long term. More information on ExxonMobil commercial fuels offerings are available at mobil.com.au/en/wholesale-fuels or mobil.co.nz/en/wholesale-fuels.

Asia Pacific Fleet Management Market Analysis (2017-2023) report
*2 ExxonMobil, “2017 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040”

About ExxonMobil
ExxonMobil, the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, uses technology and innovation to help meet the world’s growing energy needs. ExxonMobil holds an industry- leading inventory of resources and is one of the world’s largest integrated refiners, marketers of petroleum products and chemical manufacturers. The company markets its products and solutions around the world under the brand names Exxon, Mobil and Esso. For more information, visit exxonmobil.com. 

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