Electronic logs are another example where a best environmental practice not only eliminates paper logs, but also saves each Hood driver 15-20 minutes each day, makes recordkeeping more accurate, and ensures compliance with HOS regulations. Auditing equal numbers of paper and electronic logs revealed additional efficiency: paper logs took 1½ weeks, while electronic logs took 1½ hours. The DOT has to love the time-savings. Hood managers estimate that the integration of geo-fencing, transportation management, and routing software with electronic logs reduces the fleet’s paper consumption by an estimated 70-75 percent and improves customer service by 25 percent.
An automated Fuel Tax program has reduced paper consumption associated with this function from 14 bankers’ boxes per month to just one per quarter. A perfect example of how cost reduction follows sustainability is how this technology saves preparation time and fees, puts a lid on mailing costs and storage costs (saves $150 per month) to reduce the company’s footprint. In addition, an audit of the company’s New York fuel-tax purchases revealed a mere .004 percent discrepancy on electronic reports compared with 4.5 percent for paper reports—over a 1,000 percent improvement.
Integration of geo-fencing, transportation management, and payroll applications has not only eliminated paper payroll forms, but also reduces logistics manager’s time in completing payroll information for 11 drivers from eight to nine hours per week to no more than 1½ hours. Multiply the savings for Hood’s other 12 terminals, and there’s a sizeable productivity boost.
Technology is bringing the industry closer to going paperless, helping to optimize fuel efficiency, and protecting the environment. Data facilitates cost/benefit analyses on routes and deliveries, helping the company ship the right products from the right locations. In some cases, adding a second delivery to a customer may actually save 800 miles. Now there’s food for thought. —Brian McLaughlin, chief operating officer, PeopleNet, Atlanta.
Easing Fuel Bill With Trailer Side Skirts
Bob Holman likes skirts on his trailers, and he has good reason to. The side skirts, or fairings, manufactured by Freight Wing and installed on most of the trailers in his fleet, are saving fuel and proving durable, even through a recent brutal winter.
“Of all the energy-efficient things we’ve tried, the Freight Wing side skirts are the only ones I can honestly say give us a quick payback—it’s just 18 months,” says Holman, the owner of Holman Transportation Services, based in Caldwell, ID.
The fuel economy gains come from the installation of Freight Wing side skirts on 72 trailers, and the phasing in of super single tires.
This year, another dozen or so of Holman’s trailers will be traded in, and the new units, spec’d with super singles, will be fitted with the side skirts. Before long, all of the carrier’s 98 Utility trailers will be equipped with Freight Wing side skirts.
Holman Transportation Services hauls frozen and refrigerated loads, as well as some dry goods, in 53-foot trailers. The fleet runs 96 tractors, all of them Peterbilt 387s. Painted a distinctive blue, the tractors “all look alike,” Holman says.
While fuel economy improvements with the side skirts were expected, another virtue turned out to be durability, thanks to the side skirt’s construction using a high-grade plastic, and flex mounting system.
“We have had several incidents where cars ran into them and banged them up, and they just basically rebounded back into place,” Holman reports. “We had one experience that could have been a disaster if not for Freight Wing. We think the car probably would have gone underneath the trailer.” The driver of the passenger car in that episode lost control in slick conditions; the vehicle struck the side skirt on the trailer and bounced away.
“It didn’t really damage the Freight Wing side skirt to any extent,” Holman says, noting that one strut had to be replaced. “Other than that we just haven’t had any damage to speak of,” he adds. “They’re really maintenance free.”
Utility Trailer Sales in Boise, ID, handled the initial installations, and Holman personnel retrofitted some trailers as part of their conversion to super singles, but the bulk of the installations have been done by Utility at the factory.
The performance of the skirts during the recent winter, remarkable for snowfall and just plain bad weather, further impressed Holman.
“That’s been a pleasant surprise,” he says. “We were worried that ice and snow might build up on the skirts, but it just doesn’t. I think the road vibration knocks it off. It doesn’t get a chance to build up.”