Transport companies are at a loss over increased regulation and fuel prices with many claiming that they are already at full throttle and cannot improve on what they are already doing, or that they simply do not know what to do, according to the latest independent industry barometer.
The study of more that 200 companies over the first six months of 2006 was carried out by B2B International, an independent market research organisation with specific expertise in the freight sector. It was commissioned by leading fuel management company Keyfuels to assess the impact of oil prices on fuel decision making and to find out what effect increased regulations including Euro IV, Working Time Directive and the new digital tachographs would have on business.
While 60 per cent reported mixed feelings over the three EU harmonising regulations, a staggering 40 per cent claimed that they had made no impact on their business.
But it was the attitudes to fuel increases and how respondents viewed practical alternatives to the volatility of the market that produced the headline findings.
Although more than half the survey said that the rising cost of business – especially fuel costs – was their number one challenge, a massive 73 per cent believed that they could not improve on the way that they were currently buying diesel. The remaining 27 per cent believed tactical shopping for the best price was right for their business.
B2B also found that although almost 30 per cent of businesses have thought about using alternative fuels to power their fleets, tellingly only four per cent were planning to switch to biofuels in the near future.
Although 10 per cent of companies openly stated that they had nothing in place to measure fuel efficiency, the real figure of fleet inefficiency was likely to be higher. By the way they expressed themselves in the survey, it was clear to the interviewers that most had only introduced limited measures and only 45 per cent were confident that their vehicles were being driven efficiently.
Around a quarter of the survey had direct experience of fraudulent drawing of fuel, but an even greater percentage of respondents suspect that their own drivers are abusing the system but donât have the measures to prove it, a point that underlines the lack of checks on how fuel efficiency is monitored.
Nick Hague, a director at B2B International says: âWe looked at companies that use in excess of a million litres of fuel a year to get a broad picture, most of whom responded by saying that in terms of fuel management that they had got everything under control. However drilling down into the research it became clearer that what they were talking about was all about getting the best price fuel price, rather than managing it.â?
Simon Clifford, sales and marketing director at Keyfuels, adds: âThe findings confirm our suspicions that although fuel prices dominate the front pages and tax the transport managers, there is very little appetite from board level to do anything about it.â?
âThose who claim they cannot do anything about fuel prices, or have no measures in place, are typical of the industry that simply does not know what to do for the best. With fuel accounting for such a large part of operating costs, the only way you can improve efficiency is to measure the MPG of the fleet in the first place.â?
âThese companies can be independently audited and I guarantee that dramatic savings and projected efficiencies amounting to thousands of pounds every year would be made. For some, this could be the difference between staying in business or joining the thousands of companies that have already gone bust,â? he adds.
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