LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says participating in its environmental program will actually save carriers money. And the agency wants Canadian carriers to take part.
The program is strictly voluntary. Carriers wishing to participate must first sign a partnership agreement. Once that has been submitted, the carrier must measure its environmental performance using a Fleet Performance Model designed by the EPA. This is an online tool provided free of charge to carriers of any size.
Next, participating carriers develop a three-year plan and then they perform annual updates using the Fleet Performance Model.
The Fleet Performance Model provided by the EPA offers a wide range of methods carriers can use to meet their targets. Users can simply punch in their specific data and the spreadsheet will provide quantitative numbers that can be achieved by implementing the various technologies.
The program is expanding to offer other services as well, including a Technology Verification Program. It’s being designed to test new products that promise to reduce emissions and save fleets money and will hopefully weed out the snake-oil salespeople whose gimmicks do nothing to reduce fuel consumption.
So how does all this make trucking companies more profitable? Many of the initiatives participating carriers are undertaking as part of the program involve improving fuel efficiency.
“The less fuel you burn, the less CO2 emissions you create and the more money you make,” explains the EPA’s Matt Payne. In addition, the program is putting pressure on shippers to do their part by seeking out and hiring trucking companies that are part of the program.
“We really want to promote them as well as we can,” says Payne, adding SmartWay Transport Partnership logos can be proudly displayed on the trucks and trailers of participating carriers
Something as simple as reducing idling can get you started in the program, and as long as there is continuous improvements within the company there are real monetary benefits to be had.
“This is one of the best programs that the EPA has ever delivered,” says Payne.
One shipper that has embraced the program and has begun giving preference to SmartWay members is Ikea. Sabina Strautman is in charge of Ikea’s North American transportation. She says SmartWay carriers have a better chance of getting a piece of the company’s 100,000 shipment per year pie.
“We’re looking for carriers that want to be proactive,” says Strautman, adding 80 per cent of Ikea’s emissions can be traced back to transportation. She says 60 per cent of Ikea’s shipments are over the road and she doesn’t foresee that figure changing, so the pressure is on trucking companies to actively seek ways of reducing emissions.
Jim Gordon, vice-president and general manager with Canon U.S.A. says his company is also looking at its transport partners to help it achieve its emissions targets.
“SmartWay offers a solid framework to help in this regard,” he says. “Participation in SmartWay will be a driver in our decisions.”
The company is also pushing its retailers to take this into consideration as well, and that represents a further $30 million in freight movements.
Trucking companies that have taken part in the program have been able to use their involvement as a selling point, but they are also reaping the rewards of becoming more efficient.
Joe Chapman, operations manager with Triple “S” Trucking, said his company has achieved an improvement of an average 1/2 mile per gallon (MPG) since joining the program in February.
The company equipped 23 of its units with products such as the Turbo-3000D and Espar bunk heaters.
Those products involved an initial investment of US$16,900, but yielded savings totaling US$94,230 in less than a year, he says.
The fact the company is expecting to reduce its CO2 output by 870 tonnes in 2005 is just a side benefit for Triple “S”.
Coca-Cola Enterprises (the company that bottles and distributes Coke soft drink products) is another success story.
Ana Fernandez is the company’s environmental affairs manager and she said 10 per cent of the company’s 12,500-truck fleet was entered into the SmartWay program.
Her company decided to use an additive marketed by Clean Diesel Technologies to improve its environmental performance and it ended up reducing its emissions by 5,000 tonnes per year (between the 1,250 trucks that took part).
“We’ve found some tremendous savings,” she said.
Paul Abrams of National Freight Inc., a fleet of 2,000 tractors, also said the program has saved his company money.
National Freight was able to increase its fleet MPG by 3.5 per cent while reducing the number of drivers who were delivering less than six MPG by 22 per cent.
His company opted to reach its goals by spec’ing lightweight equipment and purchasing in-cab heaters. It also governs its trucks at 65 mph.
As for Canadian carrier participation, Bison Transport has led the way, but EPA officials are hoping more Canadian carriers will follow suit.