How to Track an Excavator's Fuel Consumption

by Graeme Kay

Tracking the fuel consumption of your excavator is a sensible thing to do for several reasons. Unexpected increases in fuel consumption can help identity a fault in the engine that requires attention, highlight an opportunity to train an operator to use the machine more efficiently or could even point to fuel theft. If you are working as a contractor and charging for your excavator's services, it is useful to have an accurate idea of fuel consumption to ensure your charges adequately cover the amount of fuel used.

Collating Operating Data


Use your notebook to record the number of hours the excavator has worked at the start and end of each shift by noting the figures from the machine's engine hour meter. The key to reliable fuel consumption figures is collecting accurate data, so note the figure as accurately as possible, ideally to a tenth of an hour. If the engine meter reads 3567.2 hours at the beginning of the shift and 3576.2 hours at the end, for example, the number of hours worked is 3576.2 less 3567.2, or 9.0 hours.


Refill the diesel tank at the end of every shift and note the quantity of diesel required. Again, record the figure as accurately as the fuel meter on the diesel tank will allow. If the meter is graduated in tenths of gallons, record the amount of diesel used to the nearest tenth of a gallon.


Note the type of work being carried out and, if there is more than one operator, the name of the person working on the vehicle during the shift. Different types of work might include loading semi-trailers with sand, digging building foundations and operating a hydraulic hammer to break up a road surface.

Calculating Fuel Consumption


Fuel consumption figures for excavators are usually expressed as gallons per hour. To calculate the fuel consumption, simply divide the number of gallons of diesel required to fill the excavator's fuel tank by the number of hours that the machine has worked. For example, if 75 gallons of diesel are required to fill the fuel tank after the engine has worked for nine hours, the fuel consumption is 75 divided by 9, or 8.33 gallons per hour.


Record the fuel consumption figure in the notebook. It may help to draw a simple grid in the notebook using vertical lines to separate the columns of information to be recorded and the fuel consumption result. The headings at the top of the grid might include Date, Time, Operator Name, Type of Work, Start Engine Hours, End Engine Hours, Engine Hours Worked, Fuel Used and Fuel Consumption.


Monitor your fuel consumption figures regularly. If a result varies by more than 10 percent compared to the previous day or shift, look for reasons for the increase. For example, was the excavator carrying out work that could be considered more arduous than usual? Use the information recorded for Type of Work or Operator Name to identify patterns that can be useful in managing the excavator. If one operator consistently returns poorer fuel consumption figures than his colleagues, for example, training might be needed to allow him to get better results.

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About the Author

Graeme Kay is a U.K. journalist who started writing for specialist agricultural publications in 1987. He specializes in farming topics, including farm machinery, and is also interested in subjects such as shipping, railways and road transport. Kay graduated from college with a higher national diploma in agriculture in 1985

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