KAMLOOPS, B.C. - Mark Brown of the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada's (FERIC's) eastern division attended the institute's recent western conferences, to shed some light on the work that...
KAMLOOPS, B.C. – Mark Brown of the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada’s (FERIC’s) eastern division attended the institute’s recent western conferences, to shed some light on the work that’s being done in the east.
The group has a number of products and services that it offers out of its head office, based near Montreal, Que.
For instance, FERIC is prepared to share its expertise with members in implementing on-board computers which help improve efficiency for transportation companies operating in the forestry sector.
“Anyone who calls and wants help with implementation, we’re able to do that,” said Brown, at a Kamloops meeting of FERIC researchers.
Some of the things that on-board computers can help trucking companies in the forestry sector determine include monitoring turnaround time, travel speeds and central tire inflation (CTI) tracking.
Also, under the institute’s Star Truck Program, FERIC will help fleets spec’ the best possible truck for their application and then monitor the results over time.
“We arrive at what we mutually agree is the best truck for the conditions,” Brown said. Typically, Smart Truck participants realize savings of about $1 per cubic metre hauled.
In terms of products, the eastern division has a number of items that could benefit its trucking members.
For instance, members can access FERIC’s fuel cost calculator or trucking cost calculator, both of which are Excel spreadsheets. Members can input their own data and analyze where they can increase efficiencies and trim costs.
Also, the eastern division is working with Natural Resources Canada on developing a new version of the Smart Driver for Forestry Trucks program. That project is in its final stages.
The eastern division of FERIC has also been busy exploring the use of lightweight materials in tractor-trailers.
The project will be launched in earnest in January of 2004 and the goal is to find a way to reduce the TARE weight of tractor-trailers by 50 per cent.
“It’s a pretty aggressive target that we’ve set,” admitted Brown.
FERIC has been conducting ongoing research into the use of self-steer axles, which are being widely used – especially in Ontario. So far, the institute’s research indicates self-steer axles typically cost an additional $2,800 per year in tire costs due to increased wear as well as an additional $4,500 at the time of purchase.
They also weigh about 154 kg more than non self-steer axles, reducing payload.
The western division of FERIC has been working closely on monitoring the use of a dual use chip-log trailer operated by Trimac Bulk Systems, and the eastern group is also exploring opportunities for the use of multi-use trailers.
So far, the group has determined there are enough applications suited to for multi-use trailers that the Canada-wide savings could amount to $15 million per year in fuel costs for the industry.
FERIC’s eastern division continues to research truck maintenance costs. The institute tracks maintenance costs on log trucks and is also surveying operators to see how they track their own maintenance costs.
Also being examined by FERIC’s eastern division is the use of tire pressure management systems (TPMS) and how they can be implemented to improve fuel economy.
This project has also received funding from Natural Resources Canada.
Safer trailer configurations are another item being studied by FERIC’s eastern division.
“We’re looking at ways to make the moving of pickets safer and easier so we can reduce the risk of injury while moving pickets,” explained Brown.
Finally, collision prevention systems are also being researched. Some such systems are designed to allow passenger traffic on logging roads to tune into a specific station on their AM/FM radio so they can receive reports of truck traffic in the area.
FERIC’s eastern division is also working to gain approval for the use of tridem drives in Quebec and Nova Scotia.
The configurations are allowed in Alberta and B.C., yet the eastern provinces have been reluctant to allow forestry companies to operate tridem drive trucks. Shortening the load restriction period is another goal of FERIC’s eastern division, as is allowing the implementation of CTI to increase the load capacity of eastern log haulers.
For more information about FERIC, visit the organization’s Web site at www.feric.ca