Contractor fleet fuel consumption

Fuel for thought: 4 cost-cutting tips for contractors

Whatever the nature of your work, if you’re a contractor, then you’ll be no stranger to the high costs associated with fuel consumption. From heavy machinery and tools often requiring traditional fuel sources to the commute to job locations and supplier meetings, there are plenty of factors that drive up overheads – and managing fuel consumption is a highly sought after skill within the industry.

For construction-based contract roles including plumbing and electrician work, keeping costs low can make all the difference, especially during quieter months. With fuel prices still high following the fluctuations in the crude oil market, and the possible disruption we could see later this year, it’s important that all contractors consider implementing tactics to help manage fuel consumption and costs.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most important things contractors should (and may not) know about their fuel consumption, as well as offering some tips to minimise usage and costs.

Why is contractor fuel consumption so high?

Some of the biggest factors pushing up the fuel consumption of the construction industry and other similar contractor roles include:

  • The amount of fuel-dependent heavy machinery.
  • Inefficient operation of vehicles.
  • Servicing and maintenance.

Vehicle fuel consumption

Starting with the most universal consumer of fuel across contractor roles, vehicles are often a real gas-guzzler and cost-zapper whatever your area of expertise. Commuting in the UK accounts for as much as 18 billion KGs of CO2 emissions, and for contractors, the commute to jobs is also paired with commutes to supplier locations.

Compared to your average commuter who has two bookend journeys, contractors might be dotting from location to location across the day, and the fuel expenditure quickly adds up. Additionally, contractors are more likely to be driving vans and other heavier vehicles that push the daily carbon emissions up further.

Despite being a big consumer of fuel and consequently funds, vehicles are no expendable tool for contractors and as such the solution to keeping consumption and costs down need to take this into consideration.

But what can you do to mitigate your costs as a contractor? You can’t ditch the essential vehicles on which your company relies, and you can’t cut back on your journeys and risk losing business. Well, here’s exactly what you can do:

1. Optimise your routes with My Transport Planner

Cutting down on the number of trips seems like it might not be an option, but with the right tools this can be a great starting point for professionals wanting to save money and cut down on environmental impact. Route planning might already be a part of your day as a contractor, but are you doing it in the most productive way?

My Transport Planner is a route optimisation tool; what this means is that rather than just organising the routes you will be taking, they are optimised for efficiency, the knock-on effect being a saving in fuel, funds, and time.

2. Make the switch to electric

If you are looking for a more impactful change, changing your vehicle from a combustion engine to an electric could be a great long-term solution. Electric vans and larger vehicles are quickly catching up smaller EVs in terms of mileage and are becoming a more than viable alternative to traditional vans. Roomy interiors mean plenty of space for tools and equipment, so making a sustainable switch doesn’t have to mean losing out on valuable square footage.

While this can be considered a costly switch, there is the plug-in grant available for buyers in the UK offering an automatically added discount to some models of electric van to help increase accessibility. As for the implementation of charging infrastructure, there are a range of schemes and grants in place to help support with the purchase and installation of charge points both at home and at the workplace, including the Workplace Charging Scheme and The EV charge point grant.

Though the upfront cost can seem off-putting, electric vehicles can quickly start paying themselves back. The cost of charging your electric vehicle is likely to be considerably lower than the cost of refuelling with petrol or diesel, and with an electric vehicle you are better prepared to weather any fluctuations in the fuel market. For contractors, an electric vehicle could be the update needed to help build a more financially secure operational routine.

3. Improve your maintenance and servicing

Maintenance and servicing can often come as a bit of a surprise if you aren’t keeping track of your schedule as a contractor. The busy, hands-on nature of contracting work often means that the cost of vehicle upkeep can creep up, and with it the costs it entails.

The upkeep of your vehicle is closely tied to fuel consumption, and as such it is in your best interest to ensure you remain on top of the necessary servicing and maintenance of your vehicle. In fact, improper vehicle maintenance can increase fuel consumption by as much as 2-4%.

Ensuring that you are in good time with vehicle servicing and maintenance and that you deal with vehicle complications, and wear and tear quickly will help you to avoid this increase. You can effectively manage your vehicles’ servicing and maintenance schedule with tools such as MyService.Expert, and keep on top of vehicle checks with MyDriveSafe.Expert.


4. Review your construction plant and machinery

On many construction sites, the fleet of vehicles doesn’t stop with the distribution vehicles. From excavators and backhoes to cement mixers and cranes, there are a broad range of vehicles other than your traditional vans that contribute to contractor fuel consumption. Many of these pieces of essential equipment still rely heavily on diesel, making them some of the most consumptive pieces of equipment contractors are commonly using.

In order to maximise fuel efficiency of these pieces of machinery, useful measures mostly focus on site usage. Below are some tips on how you and your workforce can boost the fuel economy of heavy machinery.

Reduce idling time

Leaving your machinery idling eats through fuel, increases emission and can even decrease the longevity of your plant. Keeping machine engines turned on only for the necessary amount of time will help to prevent avoidable wear and tear, which will help them to perform efficiently for longer. Stop-start technology, if present on equipment, is helpful for this – and having a conversation with your drivers about idling could be beneficial.

Keep up with maintenance

As with your vans and cars, construction plant also needs to be regularly maintained to ensure that fuel efficiency is preserved. Preventative measures are better than dealing with issues too late, and not only will this practise help with fuel consumption but will also help you avoid paying larger costs further down the line.

Ensure your staff are fully trained

Incompetent use of equipment can mean that it is used in a more fuel consumptive manner, the costs of which will add up. Ensure that the workers operating heavy machinery are fully trained on how to use it safely and efficiently. Incorrect use of large pieces of equipment can strain their engines, causing damage and forcing them to work harder than necessary, causing an increase in fuel consumption.

Managing costs and consumption

With the fuel market in an ongoing state of flux, contractors could benefit from utilising tactics to help ensure that fuel usage is economic. Workers have no control over the cost of fuel, but you can control the way your vehicles and equipment are used to help ensure you are not paying more than necessary and are keeping emissions low.

In addition to using the software and tools discussed in this article, fleet managers could benefit from the right fuel card to help access the bests fuel prices as well as a host of benefits that could increase fleet savings. With a variety of providers to choose from and a growing range of EV charge cards too, we have a range as diverse as contractors’ fleets.

You can browse our fuel cards, or fill out an enquiry form and we will help you to find the right fuel card for your needs.

Shell site closures June 2023

Shell site closures and openings – June 2023

In June 2023, a number of sites on the Shell network will be temporarily closing. However, a handful of new Shell sites are also set to open in the following weeks. Read on to find out more!

Which Shell sites will be closing?

The following Shell site closures will take place on 5th June 2023:

  • Shell Little Waitrose Shoreham Airport | Brighton Road, Shoreham-By-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 5LD | Closing 5th June for 4 weeks
  • Shell Cobham | Cobham Motorway Service Area, Between Junctions 9 & 10, M25, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 3DB | Closing 5th June for 4 weeks
  • Shell Cullompton | M5 JCT28, Old Station Road, Cullompton, Devon, EX15 1NS | Closing 5th June For 8 Weeks
  • Shell Gillette Corner | 882 Great West Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 5NG | Closing 5th June for 3 weeks
  • Shell Little Waitrose Thurcaston | A46/A6 Trunk Road, Birstall, Leicester, LE4 3BT | Closing 5th June for 8 weeks

The following Shell site will be closing on 12th June 2023:

  • Shell Arnos Castle | St. Philips Causeway, The Spine Road, Bristol, Avon, BS4 3EX | Closing 12th June for 9 Weeks

The following Shell site will be closing on 19th June 2023:

  • Shell Loughborough | 53 Belton Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 1LW | Closing 19th June for 11 weeks

The following Shell site will be closing on 26th June 2023:

  • Shell Balhaldie | A9 Southbound, Dunblane, Perthshire, FK15 0NB | Closing 26th June for 3 weeks

If your preferred Shell site is going to be affected by these closures, be sure to use our pump locator app to find your nearest alternative.

When will Shell sites will be reopening?

The following Shell site will be reopening on 5th June:

  • Shell Little Waitrose Blendon | 510 Blackfen Road, Sherwood Park Avenue, Kent, DA15 9NT

The following Shell sites will be reopening on 26th June:

  • Shell Cobham | Cobham Motorway Service Area, Between Junctions 9 & 10, M25, Cobham, Surrey, KT11 3DB
  • Shell Gillette Corner | 882 Great West Road, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 5NG

Finally, the following Shell sites will be reopening on 30th June:

  • Shell Little Waitrose Shoreham Airport | Brighton Road, Shoreham-By-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 5LD
  • Shell Little Waitrose John Abbott | 54 Quarry Hill Road, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 2SA
  • Shell Budgens Boship | Boship Roundabout, Lower Dicker, Hailsham, East Sussex, BN27 4DP

Keep your fleet moving with a Shell fuel card

Whatever the size of your business, we’ve got the perfect Shell fuel card for you. With variable pricing options to meet your needs, access to an extensive nationwide network, and quality fuels, our team of fuel card experts can find a fuel card that’s right for you.

Get in touch today to find out more!

Spreadsheets are for finance, not fleet

Spreadsheets are for finance, not fleet

This is the third in a series of articles written with our partners at FleetCheck to help business owners and managers understand their legal requirements around managing staff that drive for work.

Since it was launched back in 1985, Microsoft Excel has become the go-to tool for individuals and businesses alike who need to store and organise data. Microsoft estimated that in 2022 around 1.1 billion people worldwide use Excel and a typical office worker can spend more than a third of their time working on it.

So clearly there must be lots to love about Excel. Cost, or the lack of it, is a major attraction. As part of Microsoft Office, there’s no need for any extra financial outlay. What’s more, Excel is simple and intuitive to use so people need minimal training. Factor in its versatility and ability to manipulate data in hundreds of different ways without swapping software, and it’s no surprise that Excel is so popular.

A variety of data problems

But, as a business grows, so does the potential for Excel to cause a whole variety of data problems. Unfortunately, these often only become apparent at a late stage when damage has already been done. Lost data, inconsistent data, numbers that just don’t add up – such problems are incredibly difficult to troubleshoot because Excel is not built for debugging. Data is stored over different sheets, folders and machines and an error in any one cell in any one sheet can have a cascading effect, so the error is compounded in many other calculations.

Horror stories are not hard to find about how small spreadsheet errors have caused serious problems. For example, in 2012 a simple cut-and-paste error in an Excel spreadsheet cost JP Morgan $6 billion. In 2010 British intelligence agency M15 ended up bugging the wrong phones due to a simple data formatting error. A typo led to the London Olympics overselling 10,000 tickets. None of these errors were discovered until it was too late.

Ironically, the inherent weaknesses in Excel that can lead to such catastrophes are the very same features that make it so popular. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Excel allows the user to type in anything they wish into a cell so input mistakes can go undetected. Excel won’t tell you you’ve made a mistake, so errors slip through the cracks and are then replicated across multiple sheets.
  • Excel allows the user a great deal of freedom over how they organise, manipulate and format data. That might not be a problem if they are the only person using the spreadsheet, but once usage is shared, problems can start. What do those different text colours signify? What does that abbreviation stand for? How and why were those formulas arrived at?
  • Excel spreadsheets are simple to edit and overwrite. New versions can proliferate and then be shared without the appropriate authorisation. As a result, it can be difficult to know which is the latest or correct version.
  • Excel can, and usually is, used by people without formal training. This can lead to spreadsheet systems becoming increasingly complicated and prone to error and malfunction.
  • The ease with which reports can be user-generated means that their value is entirely dependent on that user’s degree of understanding of data analysis.

The risk of compromising your data

Increasingly businesses are realising that it doesn’t make sense to risk compromising data that is crucial for business success and growth. And in today’s tightly regulated data environment, where fines can be eye-watering for non-compliance, a business’s digital competence is non-negotiable. How does Excel measure up on the three key pillars of data provenance, data auditing and data security?

  • Being able to track and document data provenance is how a business knows where its data has come from and therefore that it is accurate and reliable. Tracking what happens to data as it moves from spreadsheet to spreadsheet, between different users and even across different systems is a very difficult and complex task. As we have already noted, when spreadsheet data is corrupted, finding out where an error may have occurred is a herculean task.
  • Closely related to the concept of data provenance is the data audit trail. Whatever the size of a business, it’s essential there is a full data audit trail. An audit log should capture not just when and by whom data was created, modified or deleted but also if it was viewed, by whom and with what authority. Excel doesn’t offer any easy ways to create such a full audit trail, potentially leaving a business unable to prove regulatory compliance.
  • As the amount of your business data grows, so does the importance of keeping it secure. Although it is certainly possible to password-protect Excel files, it is also notoriously easy to bypass that password protection. Excel’s security level is very weak and the internet is full of free software to crack its very simple password encryption. Excel only really offers its users protection against accidental corruption rather than security against more deliberate breaches. And once someone has access to the spreadsheet data, you can’t restrict what they do with it.

Efficient and compliant fleet management

In common with many business areas today, fleet management has become a complex and highly regulated environment where data plays a crucial role in running an efficient and compliant operation. Spreadsheets can no longer be considered fit for purpose.

Numerous spreadsheets, multiple suppliers, different departmental systems and several operators managing in their own way equals a poorly managed fleet. The consequences can include:

  • Missed key dates including MOT, PMI and road tax.
  • Risk of lost data caused by multiple users updating spreadsheets at the same time.
  • Records for drivers and vehicles stored in different systems and formats.
  • Time wasted by team members searching for data across a variety of sources.
  • Lack of consistent management reports
  • Inability to demonstrate legal compliance

The future lies in dedicated software systems, designed specifically for the task of fleet management, that are just as easy to use and flexible as spreadsheets, but eliminate the potential for error, guarantee regulatory compliance and give a real-time overview of business performance.

If you would like more information on how to manage a safe and compliant fleet, check out our FleetCheck service or get your free demo today.

Fleet Management for Hauliers

Fleet management insights for hauliers

The haulage industry has seen a whole host of fluctuations and hurdles in recent years, with driver shortages and inflation impacting fuel economy, while the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war have had a knock-on effect on haulage operations in the UK. Additionally, hauliers are still facing adjusting their operations to a post-Brexit landscape, with new challenges continuing to arise as we move forward.

Moving into 2023, many of these hurdles remain present, and haulage companies are still grappling with finding drivers that operate to a high standard and managing fuel costs. Additionally, pressures to make HGV fleet operations more sustainable is significant, meaning fleet managers need to take affirmative action now to:

  • Assess the viability of electrifying a business’ fleet;
  • Identify necessary changes to infrastructure;
  • Develop a long-term fleet strategy that balances environmentally conscious practise with cost effectiveness.

To help haulage fleets take the first few crucial steps, we’ve prepared some insights to help flag the key considerations that need to be made.

Operational Costs

2022 saw an onslaught of cost increases with inflation and rising fuel costs hitting almost all industries hard, and paired with industrial action many businesses including those in haulage have felt the pressure heading into the new year.

With such financial uncertainty, it has been difficult for many businesses to manage cashflow and keep a lid on operational costs. Despite these difficulties, it seems that the haulage industry is balancing the situation well with haulage price-per-mile falling 3% month-on-month as of March 2023, despite the 12% rise that we have seen on diesel over the past year.

For haulage fleet managers looking to improve spending where possible, there are tools that can help you to identify points of weakness within your operations and boost efficiency. Telematics services such as Tele-Gence can help you to monitor driver performance and idle time with real-time tracking to help you get accurate mile-per-gallon reports – which could help open up a conversation with drivers around how to rest efficiently, plan fuel-efficient routes, and improve safety.

Taking route planning to the next level, tools like My Transport Planner offer an improved method of route planning that not just organises your fleets trips but does so to ensure they are fully optimised for efficiency. My Transport Planner also utilises a pay-as-you-go system to help keep operational costs low.


Electric vehicles are rising in popularity both for business and personal use, with more companies opting for electric cars and vans for their business travel. While the haulage industry is lagging behind on EV uptake, there are signs that this could be about to change.

The number of clean air zones is increasing in the UK and pressure on the fuel economy resulting from the Russia-Ukraine war has only further ramped up the shift to electric and alternative fuel source vehicles for the haulage industry.

Fortunately, the landscape for electric HGV vehicles is rapidly developing and we are seeing improvement in the capability of these vehicles that is making them an increasingly viable alternative to traditional diesel engines. It is expected that these vehicles will be cost-competitive as soon as 2030 or sooner.

Driver shortage

One of the main areas of ongoing concern is the acquisition and retention of talent within the industry. The driver shortage first saw significant increase prior to 2020 and in the last four years the HGV industry has lost 53,000 drivers.

In a domino type effect, poor rates of pay and unsociable hours have pushed many to leave the role and the increased pressure on remaining staff is increasing the number of those stepping away from the industry. Lack of appeal for potential new starters combined with an aging pool of drivers means that as more HGV drivers retire there aren’t enough being trained to compensate.

In order to rectify the shortage, industry leaders within Haulage need to incentivise new starters and increase retention – and this applies to SMEs too. There are a number of ways that you can rethink your hiring process and job benefits in order to do this, starting with simple things like:

  • Updating your company website.
  • Investing in strong advertisements to attract staff.
  • Ensuring that your company compensation package is appealing with good wages.

If you’re interested in reading more around how to build a positive working culture that helps acquire and retain staff, read our insights on staff attraction and retention.

Driver Safety

Driver safety is always of the utmost importance, both for the wellbeing of your staff and for the safety of those around them. Unfortunately, news stories of HGV collisions, drifting, and other dangerous practises are all too common – and this is something that the industry has to answer for.

Safe driving not only protects the wellbeing of those on the roads, but it is also vital to protecting the reputation of haulage companies, which in turn is vital to attracting and retaining both staff and business. An important component of the driver shortage is the lack of highly trained drivers who adhere to the practices necessary to operate a HGV to a high standard of safety, and as such it’s important that fleet managers monitor driver safety, especially when onboarding new staff.

MyDriveSafe.Expert is a great option for streamlining safety checks on vehicles so that you can reduce time and money spent managing the upkeep of manual vehicle safety checks. Used in conjunction with driver tracking telematics, fleet managers can be sure that vehicles on the roads are safe to drive and are regularly checked and monitored as well as keeping a tab on driver performance.


Supporting Haulier Management

Fuel Card Services offer a range of software and tools designed to streamline fleet management and administration, that could support your haulage fleet in tackling the turbulent landscape. Whether you are looking to improve driver safety, optimise your fleet routes, or are looking to cut costs on maintenance and services, and improve mileage tracking, our software and telematics tools integrate seamlessly and offer great savings on time and money.

If you would like to learn more about the services available through Fuel Card Services and how they can support your haulage fleet then please get in touch.

multifuel and fleets

Is multifuel the future for fleets?

The pursuit of decarbonisation and NetZero 2050 is driving more and more businesses to look for alternative fuel sources to power their fleets. With the variety of low carbon alternative fuel sources rising and access to these products increasing each month, there’s an interesting question for fleet managers to answer concerning the role that different fuel types play within commercial fleets.

Making sustainable changes to the way we power our fleets is no simple nor cheap task, and the logistics of this shift means many fleets are already using a range of fuel types across their vehicles. Recent studies suggest this is a pattern we could see continue.

So, is multifuel the future of fleet power, and how does it help the process of decarbonisation? In this article, we take a look at a recent survey of multifuel use in shipping fleets and consider what the findings could similarly mean for road travelling fleets.

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation survey

The topic of multifuel fleets has come into recent discussion with the publishing of results from a survey by the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation. The survey, conducted across 29 shipping companies making up 20% of global capacity, showed that 46% of respondents already had run pilot programmes for use of one or more low carbon alternative fuels and had plans for further implementation in place.

The survey also showed that across the respondents there was uncertainty for what fuel use might look like by 2050, however many expected there to be a variety of fuel alternatives used across fleets. Some of the fuels in discussion included green ammonia, biodiesel, liquefied natural gas (LNG), biomethanol, and biomethane.

This survey, whilst focused on the fuel trends of maritime fleets, sparks an important conversation about how the uptake of more sustainable fuel alternatives might look as we move forward.

EV Transition Made Easy

Multifuel use in road fleets

Decarbonisation is of growing importance for fleet managers and is a growing focus in vehicle acquisition. But despite growing awareness of the importance of decarbonising our fleets and the variety of Government incentives that aim to help finance this change it is still a costly process, especially for larger SME fleets.

The likelihood of a swift and total shift from combustion engines to, for example, electric vehicles is low for most fleets. Electric vehicles are expensive, and there is infrastructure required to facilitate their use. Add on the developments that we are seeing in alternative fuels and the increasing availability of these means that more than likely we will see multifuel use across fleets come way before isolated use of a carbon neutral solution.

Taking a moderate approach to decarbonisation of fleets is likely to be one of the more practical and affordable ways that fleets can reduce emissions. Introducing alternative engine type vehicles when affordable, and utilising compatible alternative fuels that reduce environmental impact where possible in traditional engine vehicles.

How this could affect fleets

Fleet managers have historically only had to worry about diesel and petrol when managing fuel usage and purchase. A fleet that features combustion and electric vehicles, and perhaps hydrogen vehicles or vehicles running on biodiesel might seem like a quick trip to a complicated fuel management process.

Fortunately, a diverse fleet doesn’t need to be a hinderance for fleet managers, and the task of fuel management doesn’t need to become something exceedingly complicated or long winded.

EV charge cards such as the Allstar One Electric, Shell Recharge Card, and the bp Fuel & Charge card are great examples of how the shift to multifuel fleets is already being accommodated. These cards are versatile, meaning whether you use traditional fuels or electric, you can use these cards to get them filled up and recharged.

With access to thousands of refuelling/charging sites around the country, these cards are great for diverse fleets.

You can learn more about our range of EV charge cards, or get in touch with our team today to discuss the right fit for you, whatever your fleet looks like.