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Blog February 2023 Updated April 2024

The cost of congestion to fuel distributors across Europe

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Lara van Rijswijk

Lara van Rijswijk

Head of Marketing EMEA & ANZ

Where are the delays?

Traffic congestion is hitting drivers hard, increasing transit times and fuel costs due to engine idling. Those suffering, of course, include fuel distributors, who as a result, face higher operating costs, shrinking margins, and lower productivity. Fuel distributors’ transportation costs are already around 45% of operating costs, with the cost of fuel accounting for 40% of that figure.

Fuel distributors pay another heavy cost in terms of customer relationships. Time delays have a knock-on effect, letting down customers who in turn disappoint their own customers.

It’s interesting to look at different European countries and their most congested cities. The time delays are focussed on cars, but you can still get an understanding of what this means for your fleet.

The average number of hours in 2022 lost to traffic congestion:


London                   156

Bristol                                  91

Manchester            84

Birmingham           73

Belfast                     72


Dublin            114

Galway          94

Cork               68

Limerick        62

Waterford     52


München       74

Berlin             71

Hamburg      56

Potsdam       55

Leipzig           46


Rotterdam    59

The Hague    46

Arnhem         43

Nijmegen      41

Groningen    36


Copenhagen     50

Randers               34

Odense                31

Horsens              29

Vejle                     26


Drammen     32

Oslo               31

Bergen           26

Tønsberg       22

Stavanger      19


Graz                          46

Vienna                       37

Saltzburg                  26

Villach                        25

Klagenfurt                25


Lugano          60

Bellinzona     56

Geneva          53

Zurich            50

Basel              44


Stockholm    42

Göteborg      22

Malmö           16

Source: INRIX 2022 Global Scorecard


The impact of idling engines on fuel costs

Monitoring your vehicles with telemetrics can tell you how long your trucks are idling and where and when it’s happening.

Studies have attempted to determine the true cost of the problem of idling engines. The Department of Energy in the U.S. states that when idling, heavy-duty trucks consume 0.8 gallons of fuel per hour,1 which is the equivalent of 3.6 litres per hour. Another study finds that a heavy-duty truck eats around two litres of fuel per hour when left idling, with the engine producing 20 times more pollution than a truck travelling at 30 miles an hour.

A U.S. study by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency – when diesel was $3 a gallon – found that spending two hours a day idling costs $6 for that truck. If your fleet includes 10 trucks, that’s $60 a day. Over the course of 275 days, the idling for one trust costs that company an additional $1650 per year.2 Multiply that by 10 trucks.

If we use the average cost of diesel in the U.S. as of this writing ($4.50 a gallon), then two hours of idling over 275 days costs for just one truck, is $2475. That’s the equivalent of €2313 or £2052 in terms of gallons, without the addition of hefty VAT.

Yet another study found that idling costs up to 3p per minute. A truck idling for just 10 minutes a day for six months would cost more than £58. Even idling for just 30 seconds emits twice as much pollution and wastes more fuel than switching off and restarting an engine.

Increased maintenance costs

It’s not only higher fuel costs you have to contend with but more frequent maintenance and potentially shorter engine life. Operating at low speed, or idling, causes twice the wear on a vehicle’s internal parts compared to driving at regular speeds. This also generates a build-up of carbon residue in the engine. By idling instead of running at optimum temperature, fuel does not completely combust, causing fuel residue to build up on the cylinder walls.

Because the engine is not operating at its optimal temperature when idling, fuel is only partially combusted, leading to fuel residue build-up on the cylinder walls. This can damage engine components, including spark plugs and exhaust systems.

The environmental impact

Engine idling weakens air quality. According to the World Health Organisation, air pollution is responsible for 4.2 million deaths each year. For each one litre of fuel used by a diesel engine – and 95% of all HGVs still use diesel – 2.64 kg of CO2 is released into the atmosphere.

Addressing the high cost of traffic congestion

If you can improve your route quality and efficiency, you can better control costs. Consider AMCS Fuel Planner, the best-in-class, cloud-based ERP designed specifically for the oil, gas, and petrol distribution industry.

It covers the entire process of planning and execution with industry-specific functionality and configuration options. Compartment planning, volume deviations, delivery forecasting, product substitution and order prioritisation – degree day versus urgent orders – are just part of the story. It also optimises distribution based on vehicle and driver qualifications, product pricing, lowest mileage, and product availability at various terminals.

Route planning is a critical feature of the most advanced planning and optimisation system within the petroleum industry. Resource scheduling and route planning are performed at the same time, factoring in even the smallest details.

AMCS Fuel Planner streamlines your workflows to deliver:

  • Lower operational costs (km, time, trucks) by up to 15%
  • Increased delivery of oil and petrol per driven km, up to 15%
  • Up to 50 % reduction in time spent planning and resource scheduling
  • Up to 60 % less time spent on registration and follow-up
  • Significantly increased employee satisfaction
  • Major reduction in CO2 emissions

More efficient routes

If you’re already using an ERP that you’re happy with, you can still add AMCS Retail Planner, which integrates with any third-party software. Powerful optimization algorithms handle every constraint and demand thrown your way, including rush hours in zones, on roads and at certain times. It streamlines challenging time windows on orders, available resources, and terminals, all to ensure your drivers are taking the most efficient routes.

It takes into account vehicle and road constraints, along with driver qualifications. AMCS Route Planner takes into account different speeds, multi trips, and multi-terminals for your available resources. It takes care of planning with frequencies and visit patterns, including territory and district planning. Multiple order types and commodities, and production curves for terminals, are easy to factor in.

  • Up to 15% reductions in number of vehicles and/or driver shifts
  • Up to 25% reductions in number of miles, driving time and CO2 emission
  • Up to 50% reduction in time spent on transport planning, execution and follow up

Monitoring engines

While AMCS Route Planner can help drivers avoid congested routes, telematics enable you to track driver behaviour, engine performance, and fuel consumption from all your vehicles. Idling engines don’t only occur when traffic comes to a standstill.

AMCS Telematics comprises of an on-board device that can feed data back to you, providing a complete picture of what’s going on. Where else does unnecessary idling happen? Which begs another question – what is that doing to your company’s carbon footprint?

The Department of Energy in the U.S. estimates that 11 million tons of carbon dioxide, 55,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 400 tons of particulate matter are emitted into the environment from HGVs in the U.S. from idling during rest periods.

If idling is happening unnecessarily, AMCS Telematics provides the evidence. You can then take corrective action with drivers, teaching them about the consequences of letting engines idle.

Let’s talk

Get in touch to find out how AMCS can help you improve your routes. We’ve shown you the benefits, and if you’d like to talk more in-depth about what we’ve shown you, let’s have a chat.

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