• An improbable ally in the fuel-saving stakes
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The search for fuel efficiency at Air Products has paid off, but in an unlikely way. Tim Blakemore explains
R PRODUCTS is not unusual in ing a vehicle operator that is luctant to spend more money an absolutely necessary on its inual fuel bill. What does make unusual is,the length to which has gone to evaluate fuel ving measures.
When Brian Dixon, the corniny's fleet engineer for the uth of England, was charged early 1981 with investigating eans of reducing the £1.25m a ar spent on diesel he decided at first he had to have a reliae, accurate and quick means of sting fuel consumption.
He was not prepared to rely Flely on the monthly computer int outs he receives, which he It were subject to too many iknown influences.
He will not argue with the Ilue of the computer generally a fleet engineering manageant tool or as a specific means checking in-service fuel ecosmy; it had revealed, for (ample, that the average across-the-board fuel saving in the Air Products fleet as the result of the introduction of tachographs had amounted to about 7 per cent.
But what he needed was a means of comparing quickly and accurately various vehicles and economy devices.
He devised his own test route beginning and ending at Air Products' Bracknell depot and then set about ensuring that the results he obtained "accurately reflected the vehicles' performances."
A fuel flowmeter was a must but Brian was not prepared to accept any flowmeter manufacturer's claims of accuracy until proved to his own satisfaction.
Some painstaking parallel use of a JPS flowmeter, with carefully executed tank-top to tank-top consumption checks measuring the weight of fuel used and then dividing this by its specific gravity (temperature corrected), demonstrated that the JPS instrument was consistently accurate to within 0.5 per cent, close enough to satisfy even Air Products' requirements.
By this stage Brian was satisfied that the results of his test