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Cooking With Gas

MONTREAL, Que. - Fleets, vendors, governments, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and even the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are turning to Project Innovation Transport (PIT) for the ...

MONTREAL, Que. – Fleets, vendors, governments, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and even the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are turning to Project Innovation Transport (PIT) for the definitive word on whether products claiming to save fuel work as claimed.

This is remarkable. After all, it has been not quite two years since Robert Transport and Cascades Transport approached Transport Canada about testing aerodynamic devices under rigorous experimental conditions on its Blainville, Que. test track. But two track trials (Energotest 07 and 08) and much effort later PIT, created by and operated under the guidance of researchers at FPInnovations-Feric Division, is, by many accounts, becoming the place to validate fuel-savings products.

PIT currently has 12 fleet members and the support of four government agencies. See the list at www.feric.caunder ‘Program Activities/PIT’.

This year PIT decided to run two Energotest trials at Blainville. Within three weeks of inviting vendors to have their products tested, Feric had filled the May 5-13 schedule. It has already begun booking vendors for the September trials.

The May line-up of tests currently reads as follows:Laydon Composite and Transtex Composite: aerodynamic trailer skirts; Tadger Group International: magnetic device that attaches on the fuel line, a synthetic engine oil and one other product; CentraBalance: active wheel balancing system; Forte Performance Systems:Forte premium ULS diesel booster; Alutrec: new concept in flatbed trailers; and Eco6: product that creates a magnetic field around the combustion chamber. For the first time, test vehicles will include transit buses.

Of great significance is that PIT member fleets and even some US fleets are telling vendors they need to have their products PITtested before they will consider buying them.

“A couple of fleets, Bison, for example, have told us (this),” says Lenny Prince, the president of CentraBalance in Montreal. “FPInnovations has gained a reputation in the marketplace. We got quotes from other testing labs as high as $80,000. And these tests were highway tests, not controlled track tests. I think that the only perfect tests can be done on the test track.”

(Bison did not return e-mails asking for comment, nor did TransForce, reported by another source as having made this requirement).

As for the importance of having a place to go for affordable, reputable product testing – CentraBalance products have yet to be formally tested – Prince says, “Every day there could be a new product on the market. (Energotest) is saving costs for those of us who are doing the manufacturing and is doing justice to the transportation industry, whether (obtaining) good results or bad.”

Brad Kalk, vice-president of Vaughan, Ont.-based Forte Performance Systems got the same marching orders.

“Bison told us about a year ago that we needed to go for Feric testing before they would consider our product. SLH told us this earlier this year.”

Kalk has no particular problem with PIT becoming the definitive testing body for products purporting to deliver fuel savings but, he muses, “If PIT is the only body out there to see what is real and what is not real, but then other companies jump on-board, will PIT remain the (definitive arbitrator) or will the others say that they are? How will this play out if more groups get involved?”

John Mogford, president of Winona, Ont.-based Tadger Group, heard about the PIT testing from a Groupe Robert contact. Mogford has had his products engine dyno, chassis dyno and road tested, but this will be the first time his products will be tested on a controlled track using the SAE J1321 Joint TMC/SAE Fuel Consumption Test Procedure – Type II, Recommended Practice – the test protocol PIT follows.

“The tests are starting to get on the radar,” he says. “There is no-one else running these in Canada. There are a number of places in the US that are running (SAE J1321). But this is a joint venture and there is exposure. As long as the protocol is good and recognized in the US, this is good.”

This would appear to be the case. The ATA’s Technology and Maintenance Council has invited Feric to its annual general meeting this fall to explain Feric and PIT.

“ATA wants to learn how it can cooperate with us,” says Yves Provencher, Feric business development manager.

The EPA SmartWay program has contacted PIT about certification issues and PIT data is even acceptable for verification under Canada’s Environmental Technology Verification Program, according to Mogford. Perhaps, he says, “PIT can come up with something that will bridge the gap between what vendors are saying is acceptable and what municipal fleet managers think is acceptable.” This very well could happen, as PIT has inner-city-style stop-and-go testing scheduled for this fall’s Energotest.

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