Technology saves fleets fuel and money

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SNOWMASS, Co. – Fleets are finding that technology purchases pay dividends in fuel savings.

That realization has been proved again and again, according to the findings of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s (NACFE) 2014 Fleet Fuel Efficiency Benchmark Study.

The study, which has followed 10 major North American fleets—CR England, Challenger Motor Freight, Con-way Truckload, Frito Lay, Paper Transport, Ryder, Schneider, Werner, Bison Transport and United Parcel Service—found that not only have the participants been buying more fuel-savings solutions, they are being rewarded for their shopping. Noting it as the “primary finding” the study’s authors write: “The average purchased adoption rate of these products increased from 31% to 50% over the period of 2003 through 2013, and the average fuel economy performance of the trucks improved 0.64 mpg” to 6.77 mpg.

That works out to a US$7,200 in savings per year per truck, or a total of US$36,000 for each truck over the course of 5 years. It also represents a significant improvement over the results of the 2011 report, which found that fleets saved US$4,400 in fuel costs through the use of technological upgrades.

On average, trucks operated by these fleets travelled an average of 119,700 miles in 2013, and had an average age of 3.1 years. The trailers were older, coming it at 6 years, and typically there were 3.1 trailers for every tractor. A total of 15% of the tractors pulled refeers during the study period.

The fleets studied adopted 66 separate fuel-saving technologies, that fell into one of 6 categories: anti-idling, chassis, practices, tires/wheels, tractor aerodynamics and trailer aerodynamics. Fleets are almost universally specifying aerodynamic tractors, bumpers and mirrors as well as setting engine parameters for fuel efficiency. Other widely adopted options were:

• Tractor chassis skirts (partial) 40%, up from 27% in 2012
• Fixed 5th wheel with minimum gap 51%, up from 38% in 2012
• Specified weight reduction on tractors 54%, up from 44% in 2012
• Specified weight reduction on trailers 60%, up from 50% in 2012
• Spec’ing dead axles 14% up from 10%, in 2012
• Automated transmissions 20%, up from 0% in 2012

“Real-world data shows that fleets are increasing their adoption rates of these technologies and seeing measurable improvements in fuel economy,” said NACFE executive director Mike Roeth.

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