Schneider not impressed

by James Menzies

GREEN BAY, Wis. – One of the most outspoken companies concerned about the impending 10/02 low-emissions engines has been Schneider National and the company continues to voice its skepticism in light of recent tests.

When Schneider announced it would not be buying any post-October engines for its fleet until they were proven in the industry, it caused ripples of concern throughout the ranks of North American engine manufacturers.

The company has been provided with some of the first designs slated to hit the highway in the U.S. after the deadline, but that gesture has done little to quell the carrier’s fears.

Steve Duley is Schneider’s director of equipment purchasing and disposal, and by the sounds of it he’ll be doing a lot more disposing than purchasing over the coming months.

“We have not had enough engines long enough to learn enough to make an educated decision,” says Duley. “We just haven’t had enough engines to draw any definite conclusions.”

Two of the engines in Schneider’s possession are nearing the 100,000-mile mark, but Duley says it’s still far too early to determine how effective they’ll be.

“We have not had any catastrophic failures yet on our units,” says Duley. But since the engines are still being fine-tuned by the manufacturers, the company is having a difficult time getting an accurate feel for the new technology.

“They’ve been working with us on making improvements as we go along so it’s not really a stable product,” says Duley. “It’s helpful for us to participate in the test and get driver feedback and things like that, but it isn’t really the most reliable test to be gauging reliability or durability of components.”

While Detroit Diesel has provided Schneider with several test engines, and Cat has provided Schneider’s specialized light-weight fleet with some of its bridge engines, the carrier says it is still awaiting delivery of its first EGR Cummins.

“It’s been well documented that Cummins doesn’t have any engines out yet so we don’t have any of theirs yet,” says Duley. “We’ll be getting some of those in October or November.”

In the meantime, Schneider is sticking to its guns and taking a wait and see approach before committing to any high-volume purchases.

“We’re not going to buy that new engine in large quantities,” says Duley. “We’re going to be buying small quantities to increase our evaluation but we’re not going to buy large quantities like our normal purchase pattern until we’re satisfied that the engine is reliable.”

The earliest that will happen is the end of the second or third quarter of 2003, estimates Duley.

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