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Fleets, drivers to benefit from multiple training options as feds update FleetSmart program

KING CITY, Ont. -- Natural Resources Canada will be updating its popular FleetSmart program, which offers practical instruction on energy efficiency through driver awareness and fuel efficiency best practices. Bob Smith, chief, EcoEnergy for...


KING CITY, Ont. — Natural Resources Canada will be updating its popular FleetSmart program, which offers practical instruction on energy efficiency through driver awareness and fuel efficiency best practices. Bob Smith, chief, EcoEnergy for Fleets (FleetSmart), at Natural Resources Canada, spoke about some of the updates at the recent Private Motor Truck Council annual general meeting in King City, Ont.

FleetSmart is a free program that stresses the value fuel efficiency can provide to a company’s bottom line.

Smith referenced a poster he keeps on his office wall and that states “How far does $500 of diesel go?”

In 1999, a truck could get from Charlotte, N.C. to British Columbia on this amount, but today, $500 gets you just barely into Kentucky.

In other words, “Here’s how far a gallon doesn’t go,” said Smith.

“It makes us more determined to look into our products. Our e-learning program format has been on for about a year. We’re moving out of the first generation and into the second generation now,” he said.

In-class public training sessions aren’t as popular as they used to be given that they’re harder to coordinate, but private sessions for fleets, and train the trainer sessions, have been a little more successful.

For those who still want the “bums in seats” training, a full complement of courses is available on a full- or half-day basis.

In the e-learning module, the second generation course material now covers information on energy efficiency.

The principal formats are for self-study (online or offline) and in-classroom (instructor-led) sessions, with printed reference materials and an on-the-road practicum guide.

“Online, the biggest difference you’re going to find is that this version will have three pathways, ie., fleet driver, owner/operator and SDHT (SmartDriver for Highway Trucking) essentials. Offline is identical but can be viewed without access to the Internet,” said Smith.

Pilot testing for the second generation product begins in September.

Fuel Management 101 is a full-day workshop where fleet managers are taught to look for ways to reduce both fuel consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions and to drive down costs, benchmark their fleet, create a fuel management plan and implement it.

“You can calculate your baseline, calculate energy savings, create an action plan, and measure the actual impact. Other fleet efficiency tools include a comprehensive library of information related to fleet efficiency measures, with links to numerous national, provincial and municipal fuel consumption reduction programs, tools and incentives,” he said.

The Mark Dalton SmartDriver novels on energy efficiency are also popular training tools, said Smith.

“Author Edo van Belkom is now working on a new one for the series that will be out this summer. There’s a quiz on it your drivers can do afterwards,” he said.

The Incentive Guide: Driving for fuel efficiency, is another NRCan publication that provides an additional training tool for fleets, with case studies and checklists.

Smith said the majority of provinces have signed MoUs to incorporate the SmartDriver tools into their actual licensing exams. This initiative is at various stages of completion.

Manjit Kerr Upal, chief, SmartWay Canada at Natural Resources Canada was also on-hand at the PMTC meeting to present an update on the SmartWay program, (launched by the US EPA in 2004), and where it will be going over the next few years.

“The partnership is gaining momentum in North America,” said Kerr Upal. “Today there are over 3,200 freight shippers and carriers currently participating including 285 Canadian companies.”

SmartWay, supported by Canada’s freight transport industry including associations such as Supply Chain and Logistics Canada, the Canadian Trucking Alliance, the Private Motor Truck Council and the Owner-Operator’s Business Assocation Canada, offers support, tracking tools, training and recognition.

“Partners only need to register in one country to be recognized in both countries, but program tools are the same on either side of the border, other than the fact that the Canadian tools are offered in French and English and use the metric system,” she said.

“This really is a data program, data being key to making it work. Carriers are the backbone and foundation of the program. When carrier data is submitted, the SmartWay tool analyzes the data in terms of fuel, total kilometres, revenue kilometres, etc. to calculate the performance of that carrier. Once the performance is calculated there are personalized, private reports that can be generated but not shared publicly. This is one of the value-adds of the program in terms of it providing the fleet with fuel efficiency and emission metrics,” said Kerr Upal.

What is public is the emissions metrics in g/km (gram per kilometre) and g/tonne-km for carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. With that information available in the SmartWay database the company becomes an official partner and the information is then used for the next stage, ie., the shipper data stage, where an emissions carbon footprint is calculated.

The shipper companies upload information based on the carriers that have submitted. They can also add non-SmartWay carriers.

“As members of the SmartWay program their footprint is more accurate. The SmartWay tool analyzes the shipper data in terms of the transportation performance of their freight. This could accurately calculate the transportation emissions component, which is useful to demonstrate a company’s environmental stewardship. While SmartWay is free, I won’t say it’s easy; there is an investment required (in time and data gathering),” said Kerr Upal.

The truck tool requires information such as company details, executive contacts, primary contacts and details on the truck fleet, model year, body type, etc. as well as sources of that data.

The shipper tool requires contact details for primary and executive levels, and a description of the carrier operations, i.e. tonne-km, total kms, and average payload.

The truck tool is downloadable now, and a logistics tool has been targeted for July release, said Kerr Upal.

“One of the results of the truck tool is to show how fleets compare to their peers. We separate the data by type and make an apples-to-apples comparison (ie. flatbed to flatbed). The midpoint of the range is used to represent performance for all of the fleets in a bin (category of sorts). The shipper tool is an easy way for retailers and shippers to assess their environmental performance and track it, and to identify the greenest carriers and modes.”


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