Power to Your People: Truckstop goes idle-free

CARDINAL, Ont. — The famous 730 Truck Stop near this Quebec-Ontario border town was the scene of an unusual poker game.

A relatively new player on Canada’s trucking scene, Longhaul Truck Stop Electrification (L-TSE) dealt a few hands and distributed prizes to a handful of lucky drivers last week in an attempt to lure truckers to a new service designed to cut idling, save money and of course help carriers score green brownie points.

The "PowerStop" service is an underground shore power system, basically a network of electrified parking spaces. The 730 is the first facility on the continent to offer Longhaul’s services.

"We were actually kind of surprised to find out nobody else was doing this," L-TSE’s VP of Marketing Ian Hough told todaystrucking.com.

Unlike earlier styles of truckstop show-power systems, L-TSE offers, quite simply, technology that’s no harder to use than your RVs electrical system. 

Unlike most other shore power offerings, you
can drive right over the L-TSE system

The killer app is that L-TSE is essentially invisible, unlike the much ballyhooed IdleAire and Shorepower systems, both of which required extensive exterior construction at the truckstops. In some installations, those older systems decreased the amount of truck-parking space on the lots, says the company.

L-TSE employs an underground electrical system, accessible via access points (pods), built into sort of speed-bumpish docks in the parking lot.

Hough says the technology has been in the works for several years but the first 20 plug-ins were made operative at the Cardinal truck shop a month ago.

He says the poker night is simply a means of attracting drivers’ attention. (They’re actually giving the service away for free, throughout February, at the 730 Truck Stop).

Hough’s aim is to create a demand for this new type of shore power so fleets and drivers will request other truckstops across the country install it on their premises.

At this point, L-TSE has two offerings.

The first is the buck-an-hour engine-warm-up system. A trucker simply tells the fuel-station attendant that he would like to start his engine at a certain time in the morning so the attendant arranges for the truck’s block heater — plugged into the L-TSE receptacle — to fire up several hours in advance of start-up time.

The other, $2-per-hour service lets the truck plug in its block heater but also serves up shore power to the cab and sleeper berth plus internet access. Customers are also eligible for special deals with the truck stop that they’re stopped at.

"We’d like to build up relationships with the truckstops because basically, we want the truckers to save fuel, operate more greenly, and even make more money, some of which they could spend at the truckstops," Hough says.

"Basically," he says, "the trucks can drive right over our system; they can back over it; or step on it. And using a standard electrical power cord they can plug in their block heater and power cord."

Hough says an L-TSE installation costs truckstops nothing; and the truckstop operators get paid according to how frequently the truckers use the system. He says that once the truckstop approves the installation of the L-TSE, actual construction could be complete in as little as three weeks. 

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