Industry spotlight - RCS Logistics

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A litre of diesel has reached a record high and with fuel being one of the biggest costs facing any transportation company, RCS Logistics has started working with oil giant Shell to cut its bills.

The third party logistics company, which operates across the UK and mainland Europe from its Corby headquarters and a second distribution centre in Wakefield, spent £1.2 million on fuel last year.

The environmentally-focused business, which is also trialling electric vans, teamed up with Shell to fit the 52 vehicles in its fleet, which include 31 long- wheelbase Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans, with the fuel provider’s telematics solution.

Automatically linking diesel purchasing transactions made via Shell fuel cards with the interrogation of the commercial vehicle fleet’s fuel, vehicle and driver data, it delivers reports that highlight fuel efficiency improvements of up to 10%.

Called Shell FuelSave Partner and supplied on a subscription basis with no upfront investment required, a ‘black box’ has been installed into each of RCS Logistics’s vehicles – the fleet also includes 15 44-foot articulated lorries and six rigid 7.5 tonne commercial vehicles – with the aim of eliminating fuel wastage.

Data transmitted online gives RCS Logistics a complete overview of fuel consumption, showing each individual vehicle and driver by the day, week, month and year as well as reporting fuel-related CO2 emissions on a per tonne-mile basis and eliminating any fraudulent activity.
Initially, RCS Logistics took a softly-softly approach to monitoring and only used Shell FuelSave Partner to measure vehicle idling time. With 15 minutes of vehicle idling allowed before office-based staff were informed via e-mail, RCS Logistics managed to save an amazing 1,000 litres of diesel within the first month of monitoring.

With the company’s 31 vans each clocking up 60,000 miles per year and scheduled to make 30 to 40 home delivery ‘drops’ every day, vehicle idling reduction was viewed as a ‘quick win’.

RCS Logistics director Steve Gray says: “That was a real eye-opener as to what Shell Fuel Save Partner could do. Monitoring of idling alone demonstrated a monthly saving of £1,200, mostly on the van fleet.”

Since then, RCS Logistics has extended the use of the technology to monitor and measure a wide variety of driver and vehicle data that will help to reduce fuel use including: speeding, use of cruise control, vehicle braking and acceleration.

“These are all areas that contribute to the use of fuel and if we can cut just 1% from our fuel bill then that is £12,000 on the company’s bottom line. However, our experience suggests that the financial savings will be significantly greater at least initially,” says Gray.

It is too early to quantify additional savings, for example in relation to service, maintenance and repair costs, due to drivers adopting a smoother driving style, but Gray anticipates there will be some.

Given the results of a cost benefit analysis, RCS Logistics redeployed a member of staff, Nathan Darker, to the role of special projects manager in January. His prime focus is to use a range of tools to monitor and pro-actively interpret information relayed back to the Corby office from the in-vehicle telemetry devices.

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