Every business owner knows time is money—and when it comes to idling machinery, that goes double. Here are 6 tips from construction industry pros to help control the cost of fuel by reducing idle time.
Although fuel costs are down from the highs of last summer, reducing waste remains a time honored approach to running a successful construction business. Pros suggest educating everyone on your team that just as they would not leave the family car running while eating dinner in a restaurant, construction machinery cannot be left idling either. Here are three specific tips to positively impact production and curb costs:
- Limit warm-up time. Three to five minutes at the start of a shift is plenty, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Any longer and you’re just wasting fuel.
- Follow the five-minute rule. Is equipment idling more than five minutes? Shut it down. You’ll use less fuel to restart it than to leave it running. Consider implementing shutdown timers that automatically turn off machines after five minutes or other user-defined time periods. (Here’s an example of how a shutdown timer works on Cat® wheel loaders.)
- Shut it down over lunch. Operators may leave equipment idling while they’re at lunch or on a break to keep the cab at an ideal temperature. Comfort is important, but there are less expensive ways to achieve it. Look into engine-off cab heaters and coolers that reduce the “need” to idle.
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Owning a construction business means you’re always doing the math, right? So keep going with these additional three tips to curtail idling—and fuel waste—on your jobsites:
- Make it automatic. Auto-idle or engine-idle management systems monitor equipment parameters and automatically reduce engine rpm to idle rpm or below normal machine idle rpm. That can reduce idle fuel consumption to less than one gallon per hour.
- Limit cool-down time. Idling for two minutes at shift-end allows most equipment to reach optimum shutdown temperatures. Newer equipment comes with automatic shutdown features that control this time and process for the operator.
- Monitor, measure and improve. Equipment telematics will show you operating hours by machine, by operator, even by jobsite. You can compare operating fuel burn versus idle fuel burn. With the data in hand, you can identify where to make improvements that will have the biggest effect on your fuel bill and your bottom line.
Good To Know
Curtailing waste is key for success—and so is innovating the business, smartly. Experts remind us that welcoming in new workers, new materials and new technologies should all be on the to do list for builders aiming for wins this year. Labor shortages along with disruptions and price increases impacting the availability of traditional building materials, and the demand for sustainability are all bringing about shifts. For example, new materials are coming into play from many sources: the recycling of construction and demolition waste is being used to make engineered wood or aggregate; harvesting bamboo turns out to be much faster and more sustainable then timber; and the list goes on. Modular, prefabricated and green building strategies are all taking off too.
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