> Distributors typically evaluate the driving habits of their delivery drivers when there is a fuel shortage or big jump in fuel prices.

 However, to keep fuel costs down on a regular basis no matter what the market conditions — and to keep operating expenses to a minimum long-term — it is a good practice to periodically review driving procedures to help conserve fuel and use it more effectively.

 Focus on the following techniques to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 35 percent:

• Keep driving speed at 50 miles per hour; on average, for every mile per hour over 50, fuel consumption is reduced by 0.1 miles per gallon

• Drive at a constant speed; accelerating and decelerating ultimately uses more fuel

 • Related to this, always use cruise control to help maintain a constant speed and avoid “jack-rabbit” starts

 • If using diesel powered vehicles, find the vehicles “sweet spot,” the point where power and economy are maximized

 • Drivers should anticipate upcoming traffic conditions; this can prevent unnecessary stops and starts and unnecessary idling

 • Out of route miles, often taken to avoid traffic, can actually reduce fuel consumption because they involve less stopping and starting

 • Block-shifting (going for example from first to fourth gear) and progressive shifting (bringing rpms up just enough to shift to the next highest gear) will help reduce fuel consumption

 “And always use a GPS system for intelligent route planning,” says Leah Waldrop, marketing manager for AFFLINK’s eLev8® system. “Just as distributors use web-based systems to help their clients make intelligent buying decisions to cut costs, a GPS helps drivers make intelligent driving decisions that reduce fuel and also cuts costs.”

 The “Elevate Your Effectiveness Program” was developed by AFFLINK’s eLev8 process to help facility maintenance distributors improve their sales effectiveness and better serve their customers.

AFFLINK (www.afflink.com) is a global leader in supply chain optimization, providing clients with innovative process and procurement solutions to drive efficiencies in today’s leading businesses.