One expense that can’t be avoided in the HVAC service industry is fuel costs. Fuel costs fluctuate based on the price at the pump. But if you are deploying service technicians in vans or trucks, then rising fuel costs are of concern to you. While you can’t reduce that expense to zero just yet, there are ways to become more fuel efficient. And that can be done with an HVAC service management software, which can help reduce fuel costs for your fleet.
Companies that deploy a HVAC service dispatch software are finding ways to reduce the fuel they consume daily. By optimizing their technician schedules, the added benefit is that technicians are using less fuel. Or if they are using more fuel, it’s because they’re taking more calls and their profit outweighs their fuel costs.
Let’s look at how HVAC service management software can reduce fuel costs as a benefit to optimizing the entire fleet.
Speeding burns more fuel, and while you can’t help a technician with a heavy foot, you can help them be on time without speeding. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, every 5-mph driven over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for fuel. That can add up fast, especially if your technician is always running behind. What can cause a technician to be late for an appointment:
- Calls scheduled too close together
- Appointments booked far apart requiring driving long distance
- Requiring technicians to make warehouse and head office stops for parts and paper-based work orders
- Running late because of a non-optimized schedule
With HVAC service management software, these scheduling and dispatch problems can be corrected. Technicians schedules can be properly optimized to put only the right amount of calls they can handle on their list for the day. Resource routing tools will also assist in better optimizing the schedule to reduce travel. Appointments schedule to a technician can be optimized to reflect a better route for driving so the technician isn’t crossing back across the city. That will limit the miles they drive, and the fuel they consume.
Identify and Manage Idle Problems
Having an engine idle burns fuel at a rate of one gallon per hour according the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Air Pollution Control Program. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that each year, U.S. passenger cars, light trucks, medium-duty trucks and heavy-duty vehicles consume more than six billion gallons of diesel fuel and gasoline due to idling.
Over a large fleet, that’s a lot of fuel being wasted, and the technician isn’t even going anywhere. Idling is more than just the technician warming up the truck on a cold day. In the field, their truck is often their office, and any administrative work that needs to be completed is done there. If your technicians are finishing paper-based work orders, they are doing it in their truck. And who can blame a technician on a chilly day for wanting a warm office.
Idle time also reflects the time the technician is sitting around waiting for their next call. If their schedule isn’t optimized correctly, they may be waiting until they can arrive for an appointment, rather than getting on the road. With HVAC service management software, technicians will spend less time idling and more time working or driving to work.
With field service mobile apps, paper-based work orders are gone, removing the time the technician spends idling in their truck. All the information on the work order is completed on the mobile app, as they work. Advanced checklists require the technician to follow the checklist as they work, answering questions as they go. These are questions they won’t have to answer again when they get back to their truck. So once the service call is completed, a signature is captured, and the work order is sent back to head office. That leaves the technician free to get in their truck and drive to the next service call.
If their schedule is optimized correctly, they won’t be waiting for the next job to be completed. But if they do find idle time, dispatchers can quickly assign additional calls through the field service software. With the field service mobile app, work orders and appointment information can be sent directly to the technician in the field. They won’t have to drive back to get the information, but rather can proceed to the next call. That saves plenty of fuel when idling and increased the profit the technician brings in by taking additional service calls.
Reduce Maintenance Costs While Reducing Fuel Costs
Keeping a truck or van properly serviced saves money on fuel. When a vehicle is running at peak efficiency, the fuel economy remains high. By lowering the amount of driving a technician does in a day, the better their vehicle will run and the less maintenance it will need. To do that, however, means their schedule needs to be optimized. Dispatchers need to consider the geography of their service area, and not just focus on scheduling for time.
Having a technician start on one side of the city and drive to the other, only to drive back again adds miles to any service vehicle. If dispatchers have resource routing tools and live maps to see what their technicians’ routes looks like, they can adjust. By lowering the amount of extensive driving, the mileage on the vehicle is lowered. That means less maintenance to the vehicle, and better fuel economy. Both of which saves money in the long run and keeps the technician off the roads as much as possible.
HVAC Service Management Software Saves You Money
It may be hard to think that an HVAC service dispatch software is better than a discounted fuel card. But it’s better to optimize your schedule and make changes to things you can control. You can’t control the price of gas and diesel, so take control of what you can, which are your technicians in the field. Use an HVAC service management software and optimize their schedule. Keep them from sitting in their truck idling and get them on a route that limits their truck time and gives them more wrench time.