High oil prices are making the cost of fuel an increasingly significant part of every logger’s budget. Whether your operation includes just a few machines or a few dozen, fuel-saving practices can have a real effect on your bottom line.

Fuel awareness should be the daily practice of every maintenance manager, supervisor and operator. And a fuel-savings program can be implemented without disrupting day-to-day operations or compromising productivity. Here are five areas in which reducing your fuel consumption is possible.

For both harvesting and transporting, well-designed equipment routes can help ensure maximum fuel utilization for cutters, skidders, loaders and transporters in your logging fleet. Make those routes as straight as possible to achieve equipment efficiency. Pay attention to maintaining the routes too; logging roads should be kept as flat and as clean as possible.

The proper operation of all equipment can have substantial impact on fuel efficiency. Proper operation begins with operator training in fuel-saving production and equipment practices, such as idle time reduction and running each machine at the proper RPM for the application. Formal training pays off in the long run. Operators who train on simulators or equipment off the job site can develop the work habits and motor skills they need more efficiently than operators who learn these valuable skills on the job.

Regular machine maintenance is a critical fuel-efficiency practice. Internal engine wear, lack of lubrication, worn joints and plugged filters can all cause inefficiencies that raise fuel consumption. A well-maintained machine is also more likely to stay fuel-efficient longer.

Engaging tools in forestry applications should be sharpened and maintained in top condition to perform as efficiently as possible. Worn chains or circle saw teeth can lead to unnecessary fuel consumption.

Telematics services, the high-tech combination of telecommunications and computer science (see “Machine Upkeep,” June 2011), can support fuel savings in a variety of ways. John Deere’s JD Link, for example, provides a great deal of practical machine information and services to ultimately save fuel, including:

Idle Monitoring—If one unit shows a lot of idle time, a supervisor can coach the operator to reduce the idle time.

Air Filter Restriction—JD Link has the ability to communicate when an air filter is getting plugged and send a notification that it is time for filter maintenance.

Machine Service Codes—When a unit shows a service code that affects engine or machine performance, JD Link is able to send that information to the fleet manager, so immediate action can be taken to fix the problem.