Big Chill puts the freeze on fuel burn


With around 150 trucks on the road, targeting fuel burn improvement offered a huge benefit to the business.

Big Chill CEO Michael Roberts says Big Chill partnered with EECA more than three years ago, because of the financial and intellectual support the agency could provide to get the programme up and running. There was also considerable investment by Big Chill in providing staff and resources to the fuel efficiency and risk management programmes, which Roberts says is a long-term investment.

“It was necessary to invest in people and IT to manage the processes and provide the internal value. It’s a lot of work, time, and money for the company, but if managed properly with the right people the results will soon show.”

“It’s also about getting the culture right at all business levels,” he notes.

Big Chill employed a dedicated manager (a former depot manager) to oversee the risk management/fuel efficiency programme as well as an analyst, so that monthly and yearly results can be presented to the company board, in a format not dissimilar to a profit and loss statement. “Demonstrating the return on investment to the board – lower fuel burn, better tyre wear, lower maintenance costs, fewer incidents – sets us up for future investment.”

Roberts says the fuel efficiency programme helped create structure and momentum for broader culture change, as part of a risk management programme including in-truck cameras, drug testing, and the employment of three specialist drivers promoted from within the company.

He believes it would have been a lot harder to implement the programme without EECA’s support, and having EECA transport specialist John Doesburg come in to address Big Chill managers, at conferences and on site, has been hugely helpful. “Having that affirmation from outside the business is critical, and the depot managers really do get positive reinforcement from the EECA visits, because otherwise it would be very hard to drive these sorts of initiatives through.”

When the programme was first implemented, Big Chill put 117 drivers from around the country through fuel efficiency driver training, leading to an 80% drop in speed alerts in just one month. Results showed that taking greater care while driving didn’t mean delays –

The health and safety benefits of fuel efficient driver training are supported by international studies, and they apply to both heavy and light vehicles.

Key Results

  • 117 drivers trained, delivering an 80% drop in speed alerts in just one month
  • No delays resulted from the fuel efficiency driver training; the trucks were still getting there on time, but the drivers were less fatigued and not as stressed
  • Investment in the fuel efficiency programme has delivered lower fuel burn, better tyre wear, lower maintenance costs, fewer incidents
  • The programme also helped deliver wider cultural change within the organisation

Related case studies

View more