Last week I attended the second annual Performance Innovation Transport (PIT) Conference in Toronto. PIT is an engineering and research organization that tests, to the highest TMC/SAE standards, the effectiveness of fuel-saving technologies, systems and theories. The group is most famous for its Energotest trials of fuel-saving products, but the group does much more than that.
It is comprised of fleet members, who enjoy access to all of PIT’s reports and also have the opportunity to provide input on future projects. Membership is invaluable. For a modest membership fee you are effectively adding an engineering and product validation department to your organization.
The PIT Group has also been a godsend to me as a trucking journalist. I likely get pitched on as many fuel-saving products as you, as a fleet manager, do. There were times early in my career where I was probably too quick to believe testimonials and I no doubt wrote about certain products that failed to live up to the claims of their manufacturers.
Now, when I’m pitched on these products I can ask them if they’ve been PIT-tested. Sometimes this is met by complaints over the cost, which is generally around $20K (and would be much higher if the costs were not shared by multiple vendors during an event such as Energotest). But if a company cannot come up with $20K to prove their product or system works, then they either: a) will not be around for long, or b) don’t believe in the product as strongly as they claim to.
I don’t get access to all the PIT fuel economy test results, unfortunately. The fleet members do, but PIT’s business model doesn’t work if I get all the results and then blast them out to the world.
That said, there’s nothing stopping a company that earned a favourable result from sharing it with me, and by extension, the industry. Some do this, but surprisingly few.
I’m surprised there aren’t more small fleets among PIT’s members. The large fleets see the benefit – and these are the ones who could assemble some type of effective testing programs on their own, just not nearly as efficiently as they can through PIT. The small fleets simply don’t have the scale and resources to conduct their own fuel economy testing, and so I’d argue they have the most to gain by belonging to PIT.
Brent Fowler of SLH was the honorary president of this year’s PIT Conference. He explained why the company feels membership in PIT in invaluable.
“I used to have operations people in my office and they’d be telling me about this great technology, showing me SensorTraks reports,” Fowler said. “When push came to shove, they had no idea about the technology and at the same time we were spending time meeting with vendors, we were struggling to service our own customers. The PIT Group is an extension of SLH. We use it for a number of different things, not just participating in Energotest. I encourage those fleets that are not members to have a good hard look at being part of this group. It’s a fantastic group that shares best practices around technologies and fuel-saving devices.”
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies