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Heavily fluctuating fuel prices; to your benefit?

It is very common to many regions in Germany: fluctuating fuel prices that vary by the hour. In autumn 2013, the German Federal Cartel Authority, (Bundeskartellamt) founded the Market Transparency Unit Fuels; a price monitoring model aimed to advise customers on the most recent fuel prices, so that they will be able to select the region’s cheapest filling stations. In its present form, this model originates from a testing phase which ran until 30 November 2013.

Although such fuel price fluctuations may bring disadvantage to your business, how to benefit from them at the same time?

Analysing your fuel (usage)

Hourly fluctuations in diesel prices may bring great uncertainty to many transport and logistics firms, certainly when drivers are on the German roads at various times and on different days of the week. In cases like these, insight in fuel prices and sales volumes is essential for hauliers to find out about refuelling locations. To ensure fuel purchasers optimal advantage, DKV can for instance offer the possibility of receiving several refuelling recommendations on request, based on data like current refuelling behaviour.

It must be noted, however, that determination of the optimal refuelling moment does not only depend on one criterion, but that it is just one of those aspects if we want to realise and secure an all-in benefits package.

How to perform analysis?

Analysis of the underlying factors is done – for instance – on the basis of data and records used by the customer for his various systems. Data depend on the fleet in question and may range from routes covered, days and times of refuelling and the time span in which refuelling usually takes place. Combination and analysis of all these factors may already imply annual savings of up to 60,000 euros for an 80-vehicle fleet, if only 25 per cent of the drivers switch over to refuelling between five and six in the afternoon. So a very small adjustment may already save a considerable sum; an optimal form of cost control! On the other hand, ‘business as usual’ must of course be handled in a realistic way. After all, in some cases it is just not workable to try to stick to certain moments in time. In that case the saying goes: ‘Business itself will take the highest priority at all times.’

However, savings may imply more than just observing the moments in time in which fuel prices are lowest. Other factors may be the choice of fuel supplier, the region and the specific day of the week. As these may also affect fuel prices, they must also be included when planning and establishing definitive routes.

Support via tools

Apart from analysis of these factors, great advantage may also be won by using the simple DKV tools available. There are several online, web-based tools that provide detailed information for your benefit, like the Maps tool; a must for planners in any haulage firm. Laying out the most efficient route at optimal costs may bring huge savings on each trip. The tool also specifies expected toll charges along the route and its CO2-footprint. Feeding in vehicle data like weight, emission class and average fuel consumption will produce highly accurate average findings regarding the selected route. To enable you to lay out and organise your own business processes fully according to your own insights, there are the additional options of ‘quickest’ and ‘shortest’ route as well.

The elaborate web-based ‘Maps’ tool is obviously very interesting to your planners, but it may also be used by your drivers on the road, in the form of an innovative App for Android and iPhone.

In our view, the fluctuating German fuel prices and tools will undoubtedly bring cost-saving opportunities and they will enable you even better to properly manage your business where direct costs are involved. Active deployment and combination of the required tools and route adaptation where possible will work towards saving costs.

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