PIT Celebrates, Gaz Metro Expands

This Volvo was among 5 trucks testing 6×2 drive axles at Blainville

BLAINVILLE, QC — FPInnovations’ Performance Innovation Transport (PIT) group has marked its 5th anniversary with a celebration that saw 300 guests on hand at the Transport Canada test track operated by PMG Technologies in Blainville, Quebec. That’s where, twice a year, PIT runs the Energotest trials which have become a key vehicle and component testing event for the trucking industry, with both fleets and manufacturers involved. That joint participation is said to be unique in the world, and it began with Transport Robert wanting to test componentry for its own research, other fleets soon joining in. Claude Robert was there in Blainville last week to praise the organization.

The tests provide what FPI calls “precise, independent, indisputable data on the economic and environmental impacts of innovative technologies” on such componentry as trailer aerodynamic devices. The organization was chosen by Environment Canada to conduct testing for verifications of trucking technologies and their environmental impact.

“Starting with six members five years ago, PIT has grown to 26 transport fleet members, 16 municipalities, and four federal and provincial government agencies today, and has quickly established a first class reputation in green product trials and testing for the transport industry,” says Pierre Lapointe, FPInnovations president and chief executive officer. “The PIT group is becoming the center piece of a unique intelligent transportation hub and has become indispensable in Canada’s transportation industry.”

PIT’s team consists of engineers, technicians, eco-driving trainers, and fleet-management specialists who, says FPI, share a common goal – to help freight-transport, municipal, or public-service fleets improve their performance.

Transport Robert will have 130 LNG trucks on the road by month’s end

Among the key participants in the anniversary was Gaz Métro Transport Solutions (GMTS), an indirect subsidiary of Gaz Métro. For the occasion it partnered with Excellence Peterbilt to make a Model 386 tractor equipped with a 15-litre Westport engine fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG) available for road-testing by interested drivers. That truck is available for short-term rentals

GMTS operates the ‘Blue Road’, a project that aims to create Canada’s first LNG freight transport corridor along highways 20 and 401 between Quebec City and Toronto. Led by Robert, which will have 130 LNG trucks on the road by month’s end, heavy vehicles make some 48,000 trips every week along that route. By the end of 2014, says GMTS, there will be seven public and private LNG fuelling stations along that busy stretch of road. Two private fuelling stations are currently in use at Robert sites in Boucherville, QC and Mississauga, ON. A temporary mobile station operating in Lévis will also go public in the coming months.

The five new LNG stations planned by GMTS will be in both Quebec (Lévis, Rivière-du-Loup, and Montreal’s south shore) and Ontario (Cornwall and east Toronto). In the meantime, four mobile fuelling stations will be implemented to accelerate the process, namely in Lévis and Cornwall, where the mobile stations will be open to the public in the coming months. The public network may also eventually merge with a North American network, thereby enabling continent-wide re-fuelling.

PIT’s anniversary celebration came in the midst of the first of this year’s Energotest trials, which span two weeks each time. Among the tests being conducted this time out, Meritor was there doing comparisons of 6×2 vs 6×4 drive-axle configurations. Those comparison tests are just one part of a months-long examination of the fuel-saving potential of 6x2s, being managed by Mike Roeth, executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency. On hand in Blainville, he told us to expect results as soon as August.

The PIT testing process is rigorous, done to the SAE 1536 protocol, based on multiple tightly controlled laps around the test facility’s four-mile oval track. One or two control trucks pulling identically loaded trailers are on the track during these tests along with two to five test trucks. Each test involves at least 13 laps done three times. Radar is used to control speed at 105 km/h, though the 38-degree banking on the two mile-long turns theoretically allows speeds up to three time higher. After each test run, fuel tanks are removed, rinsed, and weighed before being re-installed and re-filled for the next set of tours around the track.

Telus was lead sponsor of the PIT anniversary event, which included vehicles for visitors to test-drive as well as booths and kiosks featuring green products. Other sponsors included Gaz Metro, Royal Bank of Canada, and Natural Resources Canada’s SmartWay Transport Partnership

FPInnovations is a not-for-profit organization mainly focused on the creation of scientific solutions in support of the Canadian forest sector’s global competitiveness. With some 525 staff members, it has R&D laboratories in Québec City, Ottawa, Montréal, Thunder Bay, ON, Hinton, AB, and Vancouver. — RL

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