Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Optimizing Fleet Routes Decreases Fuel Costs

Discovering new ways to lessen our carbon footprint comes in many shapes and forms; from algae-based fuel substitutes to solar energy. Many 21st-century findings are aimed at long-term feasibility for increased efficiency, as to compete with oil companies. Meanwhile, who’s looking into short-term attempts to moderate the rate in which we use energy?

According to Energy Bulletin, US Military energy consumption is the single greatest consumer of energy in the world, outputting thousands of trillions of Btu (British Thermal Unit) every year. In 2006 alone, they used nearly 900 TRILLION BTUs of Jet fuel, which can be quite costly.

But, looking at the consumption of military jet fuel over time, we can clearly see a steady decline of consumption:
Similarly, municipal fleets, including buses and other forms of city transportation, use a heavy amount of energy every year. Although, much like the military, we’ve seen a steady decline in the rate at which they consume. Factors include:

• Manufacturing (technology)
• Fewer people traveling
• People living closer to work
• Hybrid transportation

Ultimately, we can say that these slowly declining numbers are part of a systematic attempt to increase fuel efficiency through technology. One particular method of doing so involves fleet route optimization.
The CGI (Clinton Global Initiative) and Doug band are one fine example of a large collaborative unit of corporations, political figures, and non-profits that are helping in the process of route optimization. Route optimization can be defined as an attempt to locate the fastest route from point A to B, similar to the algorithms found in most GPS’s.

In a partnership with San Francisco, ESRI, and NAVTEQ, the CGI and Doug Band provide a commitment to incorporate plans to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from fleets in the San Francisco Bay Area through Fleet Route Optimization Software. This will target anything from public transportation to work force vehicles. NAVTEQ actually makes digital maps and content that drives navigation- and location-based services solutions worldwide, including:

• Auto navigation systems
• Mobile navigation devices
• Internet-based mapping applications
• Government and business solutions

Utilizing GIS mapping software, ESRI also helps the user interpret data, further aiding in transportation-based decision-making, reliant on the best information and analysis. Much of this is similar to what the average consumer finds on his/her portable GPS. Furthermore, it’s important to note that this technology has been around and is widely used.

Most of the time, these feature will be labeled as “alternate routes,” and will allow the user to view multiple paths, along with other elements like fuel cost, distance, time and gas station stops. Similarly, developers incorporate mechanisms that permit users to view weather/traffic in their area. This is GREATLY beneficial travelers as nobody likes to get in bad weather, or a traffic jam for that matter! Typically, users will have to pay a little extra for these features, and may even have to attend to a monthly fee for traffic/weather updates.

Both forces hope to provide powerful solutions for technology companies that enforce municipal transportation efforts. Once a seamless integration of communication and navigation has been implemented, transportation will become much more efficient. Again, this is something that has already taken effect and will continue to improve energy efficiency in regards to transportation fuel costs. As we technology progresses and becomes more affordable, individual consumers will begin seeing GPS as longer just an option, but rather a integral part of any vehicle.

No comments: