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The Rise of Fleet Eco-Driving – FedEx Eco-Drives After Disaster in Japan

Originally Posted at FleetBlogs

With the recent announcement from FedEx that they are considering implementing eco-driving training and indicators into their fleet management systems, the world leader in overnight delivery once again leads fleet operators in setting best business practices that improve operational efficiency and safety.

Already known for running a very tight business, FedEx found itself eco-driving earlier this year in Japan after the combination tsunami and nucular disasters disrupted fuel supplies across Japan. If FedEx Japan wanted to continue to make deliveries, they needed to squeeze every kilometer they could from every liter of fuel they had. Given the circumstances, FedEx says eco-driving had become an “operational imperative”.

For Japan, Eco-Driving was not just about a contribution to the environment – it was a necessity. How the couriers used the 5 tips when it counted helped us to be there for our customers who were depending on us more than ever for critical shipments.

FedEx driver Zhang Jingwei (pictured) wrote about his ongoing efforts using eco-driving methods taught by a specially trained instructor from Isuzu. Both Ford and Isuzu have been leading the fleet eco-driving research globally over the past 10 years.

By modifying traditional driving methods according to expert theory, fuel consumption could be significantly reduced by up to 25%. The expert also explained that the reduction of fuel consumption reduced carbon emissions, which helps the environment.

Earlier fleet eco-driving studies done both in Japan and around the globe – geared mostly at reducing greenhouse gas emissions – have indicated that modest changes to driving behavior can reap substantial and tangible rewards in improved fuel mileage, using existing equipment and standard sourced fuel.

At a minimum it seemed any fleet could save from 5% up to 25% or more from their fuel consumption – or in the case of FedEx – get deliveries to those who needed them – by training their drivers to use “eco-driving” techniques. Most studies indicate a 10% improvement is easily achieved, with improvements of 25% or more not uncommon. As a side benefit – the most fuel efficient drivers are also some of the safest drivers, according to one trucking company study of their own internal operations.

A recent announcement from University of California, Riverside of the first large-scale scientific study into eco-driving in the US - funded with help from the Department of Energy to the tune of 1.2 million dollars – will likely confirm the findings of previous studies conducted in Europe, Asia, and around the world.

When logistics giant FedEx considers implementing innovative efficiency techniques, the business community takes notice. Eco-driving techniques aren’t new, or somehow unique, but when applied consistantly across fleets of any size the affect on the bottom line can be substantial. Programs can be developed in-house for almost no cost, or can be outsourced to providers who can quickly get your entire fleet trained.

Last month BrightFleet.com, an industry leader in online risk assessment and mitigating driver training, announced the availability of a fleet focused computer based eco-driver training program that allows fleets of any size to quickly roll out comprehensive eco-driving training to their entire fleet.

“Eco-driving” may have had a slow uptake so far in the US – where we enjoy a relatively inexpensive and plentiful fuel supply, but with the uncertain economy and unpredictable natural disasters that can quickly interrupt fuel supplies regionally or nationally – time may finally be right for these simple and cost-effective methods to become part of the smarter standard business practices that will be adopted by innovate fleet operators for years to come.

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