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Sharing success

NRCan's partnership with Brazil producing smart drivers beyond Canada's borders


OTTAWA, Ont. — Transport-generated emissions don’t stop at international borders, so it makes sense that techniques and expertise developed to reduce such emissions should also be shared internationally. And Canada’s NRCan has become a trusted international supplier of such expertise.

Most recently, NRCan signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Brazil, to share educational tools it has developed to lead to the more efficient operation of heavy trucks. The partnership was a part of Canada’s G20 commitment to support international efforts to green the freight sector.

“Brazil approached us through an international agency called the International Council for Clean Transportation,” said Gary Murray, a consultant to NRCan who worked on the program. “They sent some of their executives here for four days, and we gave them copies of all our material and told them how we designed it.”

A highlight of the Brazilian delegation’s visit to Canada included a visit to Kriska Group in Prescott, Ont.

Kriska demonstrated its tire management program, maintenance regimes, and explained some of the technologies it has deployed to help reduce fuel consumption.
Impressed, the Brazilian team returned to their home country to roll out a training program of their own. The materials provided by NRCan – and lessons learned from Kriska – were adapted for the realities of trucking in Brazil, which includes the use of much older equipment.

“The age of their fleet is significantly beyond the average fleet age here in Canada,” said Paula Vieira, director of transportation and alternative fuels with NRCan. “So, the idea of adding advanced technologies to those older trucks doesn’t make as much sense as training the people who drive them and the efficiencies you can get through that.”

Murray added, “We also found only 12% of the roads in Brazil are paved and they don’t yet require Euro6 emission standards, so they don’t have the latest technologies.”

Even so, driving habits can make a significant contribution to fuel economy and reducing truck-generated emissions. Brazil has very rapidly deployed teams of trainers across its broad country to train additional trainers, who will then deliver the tools and lessons to professional truck drivers.

“They’re moving this at record speed,” Vieira said. “They’re trying to get a substantial training force in place.”

Brazil’s interest in aggressively reducing transport-related emissions did not come as a surprise to Vieira.

“We’ve always recognized Brazil as a leader in alternative fuel production, so we know this is a country that’s very concerned with the environment,” said Vieira.

“And given the fact that, for over 20 years, NRCan has been recognized globally for their expertise in this area, I wasn’t surprised they reached out to us to support them in this effort.”

In addition to taking lessons presented through the SmartDriver for Highway Trucking program, the Brazilian program also borrowed from a Fuel Management 101 course geared towards fleet managers. The Brazilian program also developed a phone-based app that drivers can use to collect data on their fuel economy and travel, Murray explained.

The course given to drivers is 12 hours long and includes four hours on a simulator. Most of the training is done in-classroom, rather than online.

“They’re not as connected as we are here, so to them, they feel that the medium of the actual in-class session will be the most effective,” said Vieira. “We’ve done all the documents in Portuguese. The hard copy was the first priority for them.”

As Brazil continues to roll out its own training program, NRCan officials say the program is a great example of how global partnerships can be formed to help reduce air pollution from the transport sector.

“This is part of our G20 commitment to support greening freight worldwide,” said Vieira. “And we don’t see ourselves only as givers; we’re takers as well. We work on an international front, learning from others.”

Murray said NRCan has shared SmartDriver courses previously with countries as far flung as Mexico, Chile and Saudi Arabia.

“I think the green freight movement has picked up steam,” Murray said.

And as it does, Canada will look to continue being a leader in sharing the expertise and training materials it has developed.


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