Fuel Savings Tips for Power sweeping Businesses

Fuel expense is a major cost concern for all power sweeping business budget managers. There are numerous ways to reduce fuel costs significantly. Many business owners may not be aware of some of the less obvious but highly effective methods of cutting fuel waste. Below is an abundant list of great ways to help minimize fuel costs for sweeper operation. These recommendations are provided by Industry experts, including a NAPSA Board Member, a specialist from the country’s premier power sweeping equipment manufacturer, and power sweeping contractors featured in our NAS Spotlights.

Why are Powersweeping Fuel Costs Higher than Necessary?

Fuel bills for busy power sweeping businesses can run tens of thousands of dollars per month. Between fuel prices and routing and training deficiencies, there is a tremendous amount of collective fuel waste across the industry in any given period. From running rear engines at 1600/1800 rpm while sweeping, when 1100 was enough, to traveling at 70 mph instead of 65 mph between accounts, to various maintenance and equipment purchasing issues, power sweeping experts have found myriad ways operators can significantly cut fuel waste and save cost.

Fuel Cost Savings Tips for Powersweeping Businesses

Here’s a great list of fuel-saving solutions, some familiar and others less obvious. Some of the tips are specific to power sweeping trucks and others apply to all field services vehicles. These recommendations are provided by industry authorities, to help power sweeping businesses save as much as possible on fuel costs:

Fueling

Top off Tanks — In diesel trucks, keep your tanks topped off. That helps keep water out of your fuel system. Having ambient air inside the tank will get water in your fuel. Keeping fuel topped off fills the space so that you don’t have as much space in the tank for ambient air to be, and so it’s less space for water condensation to build up. That’s a bigger concern here in the southern Midwest and the southeast. It’s probably not as much of a problem in the desert southwest, where there is not as much of an issue with condensation. (Pete Phillips, NAPSA Board Member, and Owner, Clean Sweep, Chattanooga, TN [PP])

Convert to Propane — We’ve converted some of our fleet to propane. We’ve switched all four of our parking lot sweepers to propane. It’s just over a dollar a gallon, after fuel rebates, and the mileage is almost on par with gasoline. You’ll spend $8k to $9k upfront in conversion costs, but when you do 100 mi day, your ROI is not bad. (PP)

Use the Right Fueling Station — Be smart with where you tell your drivers/operators/mechanics to fuel up at – a few cents here and there all year long in a big fleet can be thousands of dollars in savings. (Hayden Miller, Co-Owner and VP of Operations and Fleet, Pacific Sweeping, San Diego CA [HM])

Use Cardlock — Manage your Cardlock system closely, and set up alerts so you can see when people get fuel. Keep an eye out for theft. (HM)

Sweeping

Dump Waste Water — A clean truck is a happy truck. Don’t carry your waste. When you carry your waste, you’re killing your fuel economy. (PP)

Limit Auxiliary Engine Use — Do not run the auxiliary engine while traveling. (Brian Giles, Schwarze Product Manager [BG])

Turn Off Engine When Parked — Reduce the main and auxiliary engine idle time as much as possible, for example, when filling up water at the hydrant, waiting in line at the dump, fueling at a fuel station. While drivers are on lunch or breaks, make sure they have the truck engine(s) off. (HM)

Reduce Weight in Hoppers — When traveling far, have as little weight as possible in your hoppers (HM)

Less Throttle While Sweeping — Do not use more auxiliary engine throttle than is needed to get a quality sweep. (BG)

Don’t Ride the Brake — Try to maintain a sweep speed that is safe but doesn’t require riding the brakes. As an example, sweeping at 6 mph with no brake and 3 mph while riding the brake burns exactly the same amount of fuel, but sweeps twice the curb miles. (BG)

Assign Proper Equipment — Send the proper sweeper out to the job. If you send an air truck to do mechanical broom work, the operator will spend much more time there, which means wasted fuel. (HM)

Routing

Optimize Routing — Maximize your route efficiencies by making sure drivers are taking the path of least resistance on their routes. Work toward receiving feedback from operators. (We can’t always write down the best route on paper. Some streets might have construction, or a roadblock, or a detour you don’t see on your routing software or Google maps, etc.) That may add 20 minutes to each job. (HM)

Cut Urban Travel Time — Travel at the least congested times. (HM)

Confirm GPS Matches Routes — Manage your GPS systems closely, and make sure drivers are following the routes you have drawn out for them. Don’t assume they follow the route you give them. Some people just want to stretch their days out, and if it isn’t under your radar it can slip past you and increase your fuel costs. (HM)

Reduce RPMs — Use overdrive if the vehicle has the option – lower RPMs = less fuel burned. (HM)

Monitor Driving Habits — Curb bad driving behavior. Use today’s technology to inform you on fast acceleration (speedy drivers). (HM)

Control Speed — Use cruise control, if the vehicle has it. (HM)

Use Advanced Routing Technology — UPS has developed software that maps out driver routes to avoid left-hand turns. It reduces idle time as well because when making left-hand turns people usually sit at traffic signals for a while. In a big fleet, this can be huge savings. (HM)

Maintenance

Maintain Moving Parts — Check your moving parts, as worn fan and broom drives use more energy than properly serviced drives. (BG)

Change Filters — Make sure fuel filters and air filters are changed according to the maintenance program, to prevent “clogging” and blockages that reduce engine performance. (HM)

Change Oil — Change your engine oil and filters according to your oil change interval system. (HM)

Check Air Pressure — Make sure air pressure in all the tires is filled to specifications. Low tires cause a drag, which reduces your miles per gallon. (HM)

Keep Radiator Clean — Make sure radiators on all vehicles are clean. If engines are running at hotter temperatures, they will burn fuel inefficiently. (HM)

Change Spark Plugs — Keep up on changing spark plugs on time. Bad spark plugs reduce fuel economy by up to 30%, costing you an extra 90-94 cents per gallon (based on CA gas prices). (HM)

Check for Fuel Leaks — Make sure your trucks have no fuel leaks at all! (HM)

Maintain Fuel Injectors — In a fleet, keep an eye out for trucks that consume more fuel than other vehicles. The injectors could be faulty and passing extra fuel. Changing fuel filters regularly will increase the longevity of the injectors. (HM)

Purchasing

Choose the Right Drive Train — When purchasing a sweeper, be sure to get a drive train that enables speed to match the sweeping capability of the truck without riding the brake. Always specify variable speed side brooms that are not dependent on engine speed, so the broom speeds can be matched to the job and allow lower auxiliary engine speeds. (BG)

Choose the Right Chassis — Choose your vehicle chassis based on which region of the country you are operating in.

Choose the Right Fuel Type — Choose your new vehicle’s fuel type carefully. The fuel type you choose should depend in part on what region you are in. (HM)

Choose the Right Tires — Buy highway tires, not aggressive treaded tires. (HM)

Choose the Right Fuel Tank — Buy your fuel tank, or lease one and negotiate a “wet service to fill it in early mornings/nights.”

Track vehicle and external conditions — Use fleet management software to track everything possible that impacts your fuel costs. (HM)

Fuel Cost Savings Advice Contributors

This important information has been generously provided by the following industry authorities on fuel savings in sweeper business operations:

Pete Phillips, NAPSA Board Member, and Owner, Clean Sweep, Chattanooga, TN (PP)
Pete Phillips’ company, Clean Sweep is a 35-year old NAPSA-certified business, and it is one of the founding members of the World Sweeping Association. Pete has become a strong influence in elevating standards of quality and ethics in the power sweeping industry through his NAPSA leadership role.

Brian Giles, Schwarze Product Manager (BG)
Brian Giles is one of Schwarze’s recognized experts on power sweeping equipment operation. Schwarze manufactures a complete line of power sweeper models for commercial parking lot, industrial sweeping, airport runway, and municipal street cleaning, and numerous other power sweeping needs.

Hayden Miller, Co-Owner and VP of Operations and Fleet, Pacific Sweeping, San Diego CA (HM)
Hayden Miller’s Pacific Sweeping serves over 30 cities in five southern California counties. Its customers include the California DOT, utility companies, county governments, the City of San Diego, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Marine Corps, among others. CEO, Lee Miller, is a NAPSA Board Member, and Hayden Miller is a southwest power sweeping operations and fleet management, expert.

The Imperative of Reducing Fuel Waste and Costs

We want to thank the above-named authorities on power sweeping who elevate the industry by taking their time to share this important information. Their leadership in setting the standard for knowledge sharing supports NAS’s work to create a resource for information to help power sweeping business owners succeed.
These contributors further help the country more broadly, through their efforts to drive improvement across this essential service subsector. They also help advance the cause of environmental responsibility, through their sharing these recommendations for reducing fuel waste.

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