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Technology to reduce fuel costs and improve your FTC rebate

Jim French, Australasian Construction Solutions Specialist at Teletrac Navman, looks at the ways telematics is giving crane operators more options to maximise their fuel tax credits entitlements.

Most crane operators rely on time-consuming and complicated calculations to maximise their fuel tax credits (FTC) entitlements and most simply don’t have the time or resources. Telematics can automatically measure and calculate FTC entitlements not only for fuel used on auxiliary equipment, but also for off-road travel and off-road idle, all of which are entitled to the highest FTC rate.

Unprecedented commercial and public infrastructure projects are keeping mobile cranes busy. In fact, we’re witnessing one of the biggest construction booms in Australian history, with productivity expected to rise by three per cent each year. The mobile crane industry is flourishing and operators and hire specialists are set to reap incredible benefits. Mobile cranes are an essential part in many fleets and are used predominately in construction, however, they are still governed by Heavy Vehicle National Law. Because of this, many don’t see the potential return on investment when it comes to implementing technologies. Paired with stiff competition, the risk of cutting close to margins and eating into profits becomes a serious factor.

With little wiggle room to spare, how can you keep costs down? By going to the bloodline of the engine and one of your biggest expenses – fuel, and tapping into the telematics that have helped construction companies thrive.

Put money back in your pocket

Most crane operators claim fuel tax credits at the lower rate applicable to heavy vehicles travelling on public roads. While recent changes in the law have allowed operators to use ATO safe harbour rates to apportion 5 per cent of fuel usage to operating “truck-mounted loader cranes”, there is no specific safe harbour entitlement for mobile cranes. Operators need to rely on time-consuming and complicated calculations to maximise their entitlements and most simply don’t have the time or resources.

Telematics allows you to automatically measure and calculate FTC entitlements not only for fuel used on auxiliary equipment, but also for off-road travel and off-road idle, all of which are entitled to the highest FTC rate. Using this approach, many have seen results as high as 80 per cent of total fuel usage claimed at the higher off-road rate (roughly a 25 cents per litre increase from the “on-road” FTC rate).

This data is automatically converted into a report, ready to hand to the ATO. When all mobile crane fuel is typically chalked up as being too difficult to claim, the savings this automatic approach offers are huge. All fuel used can be claimed at the full rate, putting money back in your pocket.

“Mobile cranes are one of the most under-claimed vehicle types for FTC because they use a significant portion of fuel “off-road”, but that fuel can be difficult to measure. By using telematics and an FTC solution, businesses can achieve significant costs savings. In fact, many achieve ongoing savings which far outweigh the cost of the system,” Peter Perich, Director of PPM Tax & Legal, says.

Technology does the heavy lifting

Fleet management solutions are nothing new to industries like transport and construction. While cranes operate in unique ways like a truck, they can also reap many of the same benefits from smart use of technology.

For example, office staff can share site maps for the job a mobile crane is hired for, and drivers can gain instant access to information on where a mobile crane is required and how to get there – something that can’t be achieved with basic navigation tools.

When paired with an FTC solution, you can not only accurately track on-and-off-road use, but also reduce unnecessary fuel spend and pinpoint inefficiencies.

It’s this kind of innovation that’s helping businesses achieve significant returns. By tracking fuel use by time, location and purpose, technology does the hard work for you, giving you a higher and more accurate FTC rebate, reduce the load on paperwork and improve operational efficiencies.

A more efficient system

Claiming more accurate fuel tax rebates and reducing fuel costs is just one of the great benefits of technology. When telematics is installed in your equipment, you can better predict patterns and resolve issues before they arise. The technology provides you with information, such as engine hours completed at job sites and distance travelled. From this information, you know exactly how long new or future jobs will cost you. This makes pitching for new contracts easier as you have the assurance that you’ll work within your limits and reduce the pinch of tightening budgets.

The key to success in any fleet is utilisation, and technology makes this an easier task. With location data, you can paint a wider picture of how your cranes are used. By comparing usage of the routes taken to and from work sites, and exactly when cranes are operational on site, you can map out shorter, approved routes that use less fuel. Technology provides real-time facts to help you base your decisions on accurate information.

Increasing margins in a competitive industry is crucial and technology gives you that opportunity. Technology can help to reduce costs, provide bigger returns and shows how your cranes are being utilised, and at what times, to help you be more efficient and maximise your return.  

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