Truck News

Feature

Fueling change

WINDSOR, Ont. - Although most of us would like to believe that we are as earth-friendly as possible, if you work in trucking this may not be the case.It's a long and winding road to cut this industry'...


WINDSOR, Ont. – Although most of us would like to believe that we are as earth-friendly as possible, if you work in trucking this may not be the case.

It’s a long and winding road to cut this industry’s pollution levels – but if scientists are correct in claiming the 20th century was the warmest in 1,000 years and in predicting the average global temperature could rise by as much as 1.4 to 5.8C by the end of the 21st century – it’s well-worth the trip.

In May the 2002 Windsor Workshop included a pilot session hosted by FleetSmart entitled “Constructing Your Fuel Management Plan.”

Offering approximately 20 heavy-duty fleet managers a look at how to save money and cut emissions, the workshop’s end goal is to get the industry involved in giving Mother Nature a hand.

Life and death

Speaker John Woodrooffe, principal of Woodrooffe & Associates (an engineering and consultant agency dedicated to large truck safety), says trucks live and die by their fuel performance.

He complains efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to clean up traditional emissions may result in higher levels of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere and higher fuel consumption by vehicles.

“They are trying to spend $1,000 to save $100 as opposed to trying to find a balance,” he explains.

“You have to try and strike a balance between greenhouse gas emissions, fuel consumption and the traditional emissions we see – particulate and that sort of thing.”

He says in addition to poor aerodynamics, the new emissions regulations are the biggest problem facing truckers in terms of paying fuel penalties.

“You’ll pay a penalty for operating a 2003 model vehicle of about 45 per cent expected fuel efficiency in longhaul (operations),” he says.

Fortunately, he sees two areas where fleets will be able to help offset this loss: Rig design and tires offering reduced rolling resistance.

“Managing the gap between the tractor and the trailer … and boat tailing of the trailer,” are examples he sees as key designs of the future.

“Optimizing the vehicle to manage the air flow around it will be the challenge.”

All efficiency gains through driver training, progressive shifting and engine fuel mapping are net benefits in fuel efficiency and somewhat independent of emissions concerns.

In fact for all the trouble they’ve caused in the industry, Woodrooffe questions whether the 10/02 engine changes are really going to satisfy the public.

“What we’re actually doing is spending the benefits that we’re getting through technology to improve fuel efficiency … pumping more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” he says.

“At the end of the day I am pretty sure society will say that greenhouse gas output is more important than traditional emissions.”

Idling must go

So trucking is likely being asked to do more than its share to help cleanse the planet and it will be hit right were it hurts most: In the fuel tank.

The amount of fuel used is often the difference between profit and loss for fleets and owner/operators alike.

So if on-highway performance is going to suffer the natural solution is to look at off-highway efficiency to help make up the difference.

FleetSmart says Class 7 and 8 diesels burn an average of four litres of fuel per hour at 900rpm. While idling doesn’t burn quite as much fuel, cutting the time spent running nowhere does carry other benefits, too.

Some studies suggests one hour spent idling leads to as much engine wear as two to three hours of highway driving.

New dispatching needed

Other than reducing idle time – something that has proven to be a tough sell in the cold Canadian climate – there are also other ways to boost efficiency.

Mike Richmond, an industry consultant who currently works with Fanshawe College, says companies should look to slow the travel speed of their trucks.

Money saving options don’t necessarily have to cost if all the players buy into the idea – and this includes a fleet’s planners and dispatchers.

Richmond explains if truckers were given more time to get to their destinations, slowing down wouldn’t be a problem.

This simple low-tech policy will work in concert with the various high-tech methods to conserve fuel, he insists.

“I don’t think there is all that much that is new, but if companies look at basic things like aerodynamics and driver training, then they will be successful,” he adds.

On-road, heavy-duty diesel engines can electronically record the amount of time spent idling.

On-board computers are quite common and can be used to improve poor driving habits. Anti-idling policies and incentives could also offer added encouragement.

And installing auxiliary heating and cooling units can cut idle time dramatically.

However, all of these savings go right up the stack if dispatch is constantly pushing drivers to meet unrealistic delivery times.

A crash course

The new FleetSmart program – Fuel Management 101 – gives fleet managers a method to measure and address all of these fuel consumption concerns.

“It will give them a systems approach to implementing a fuel management plan,” says Lynda Harvey, FleetSmart’s chair of the Fleet Vehicle Program.

“We’re trying to make it very gentle, easy to use, break it out into steps so fleet managers can look at what they can implement very quickly and others they can implement over a long period of time.”

She says the government agency realized one of the biggest problems is most fleets have no idea how to create a baseline for a fuel management plan.

“We wanted to introduce this concept of developing Fuel Management 101 for fleets and from there, take it to the next step, a really productive one-day workshop that fleet or fuel managers, or the operations guy, can go to (when developing ideas).”

The aim of the program is to reduce fuel use, vehicle emissions and help Canadian fleets become more profitable by becoming more efficient.

The program does everything from explaining why a management plan is important to how to inventory and benchmark your fleet.

It even gets into selling your plan to management and how to implement and analyze the results all the while planning for future emissions targets.

“The added bonus is that it does reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it will allow a company to publicly say to its customers that they have a fuel management program in place,” she adds.

“It allows them to tell their shippers when they’re negotiating rates ‘we’re optimizing everything that we can do. We run our fleet efficiently.'”

Overall, Woodrooffe believes the program and its goals are very attainable.

“Think of fuel in terms of centilitres rather than litres. For every drop you can save it is a benefit and it all adds up at the end of the day,” he contends.

For more information on how you can participate in the one-day workshop – set to hit the streets in the fall – call Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency.

Talk to the folks at FleetSmart, 613-947-8381, and see what they can do for your fuel costs.


Print this page


Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*