MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Since fuel is quite often the number one expense for owner/operators and within the top three expenses for carriers, it is crucial to monitor and maximize its use at every turn.
There are a number of fuel economy initiatives being employed in the trucking industry and as trucking professionals realize the severity of Greenhouse Gas emissions that North America faces, even more programs and proposals are hitting the road. However, it’s still up to the person behind the wheel to employ fuel-savings techniques.
Truck News visited the Husky Truck Stop in Mississauga, Ont. to talk to drivers about their own fuel economy techniques and practices.
Jan Kasycz, a driver for Forbes-Hewlett of Brampton, Ont. said he’s happy with his fuel situation.
“My company pays me an 11 per cent fuel surcharge and that works well for me,” said Kasycz. “Other than that, if your loads aren’t too heavy that can help your fuel economy while you’re out on the road as well.”
“Idling is the biggest controllable fuel economy variable,” said Vic Bartlett, who drives for JS Redpath out of North Bay, Ont. “I’m a former owner/operator and I know you can get by without idling. The guys idle far too much when they are stopped at truck stops.”
Bartlett said there is too much emphasis on speed when it comes to cutting back on fuel.
“You can talk all you want about cutting speed on the highways, but it’s not realistic. Everybody wants their deliveries yesterday and sometimes it just isn’t an option,” he added.
Harold Ross, who drives for DSM based out of New York City, says that watching your speed is one of the only things that works in reducing fuel consumption.
“There isn’t an awful lot you can do; I watch my speed on the highways and try to keep that down and I try to keep my idling down as well. You have to idle a little bit in the winter time but I usually warm up the truck and then shut it off at night while I sleep,” said Ross.
Warm weather means less idling, according to Mike Yohnicki, a long-haul driver for Americas Freight based in Guelph, Ont.
“During milder weather, I don’t run the truck as much. If I worked out of the sunny south, I wouldn’t have to worry about idling at all,” laughed Yohnicki.
Owner/operator, Bert Westendorp, takes the auxiliary power unit approach to fuel economy.
“Proheat power source is the only way to go – there’s no two ways about it,” said Westendorp, who drives for Trio Transport based in Barrie, Ont. “I have a power cord that I plug into the reefer unit on the truck because it is a good power source and uses less fuel so I cut out idling completely.”
Westendorp said air conditioning in the summer time is the only fuel economy technique he has yet to conquer but remarked that the APU manufacturers are marketing units for cool air now and not just warm air, which will make it easier for him this summer. n