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Evaluating Data Envelopment Analysis as a means of measuring van fuel efficiency

By H.P.B. Virtos


In order to improve fuel efficiency, fleet managers need methods to accurately measure fuel performance. Miles per gallon – the industry fuel efficiency standard measure – has several limitations. These relate to some aspects of fuel efficiency not reflected in the measure but also to the fact the measure cannot be interpreted without knowing some external factors (such as vehicle weight). This research addresses some of these limitations through the application – within three companies – of a Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) model to van fuel efficiency measurement. In order to use the fuel information obtained from the fuel cards statements, it was necessary to develop a cleansing and smoothing algorithm which ensured that the data could be safely used in the models. The model results indicate that DEA provided a better and more comparable fuel efficiency measure while effectively addressing some key limitations of the mpg measure. The originality of this research comes from the limited amount of published literature on fuel efficiency measurement in road transport operations. Effectively, only a limited number of papers can be found on the measurement of road operations efficiency using DEA and, with the exception of this study, none could be found on van operations or fuel efficiency measurement. Debriefing discussions confirmed that the fleet operators appreciated the measure and also suggested that more research on fuel theft could be useful. Finally, the recent success of driver competitions seems to indicate there is a latent need in the industry for accurate driver performance measurement, which suggests that methods such as the one developed in this study could be of greater use in the near future

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