Behind the Wheel of Uncertainty

If there’s one thing that’s certain right now, it’s that the trucking industry is awash in uncertainty. Unlike other transportation providers, the trucking industry is battling numerous and unpredictable variables ranging from labor to regulations...


 

Sustainability continues to pay off

Like many leading carriers, Werner has remained committed to sustainability and continues to see a pay off for its efforts.

“We’re heavily involved in all things fuel efficient,” says Leathers. “But, it’s driven primarily by our desire to be the lowest cost carrier to our customer.” Aside from environmental responsibilities and maintaining the company’s high level status in the EPA’s SmartWay program, Werner relies on sustainability initiatives to save fuel.

“Fuel is the single highest operating expense that we have outside of labor,” says Leathers, “and we’re going to work extremely hard to control our fuel costs.”

Trailer skirting is one aerodynamic enhancement that Werner has pursued vigorously to reduce fuel burn. “We actually developed, marketed, and patented our own trailer skirt, called the ArrowShield,” says Leathers. In prime operating conditions, the trailer skirts can boost fuel efficiency by 5 percent. Even if the actual percentage is closer to 4 percent, Werner estimates that it could save 5.5 million gallons of fuel a year, which translates to millions of dollars saved annually as well.

Last August, Utility Trailer introduced the USS-120A, the company’s next generation advanced aerodynamic side skirt.

The product is SmartWay verified as an “advanced side skirt” providing a minimum of 5 percent fuel savings, and can be used with low rolling resistance tires on dry vans to achieve CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliance for California operations.

Great Dane Trailers’ ThermoGuard trailers offer a sustainable aspect in terms of their efficiency and performance.

“ThermoGuard is an interior liner for reefer trailers and it’s the only liner in the marketplace that was designed by a trailer manufacturer for the sole purpose of reducing hours run and amount of fuel used in reefer trailers,” explains Chris Hammond, vice president of dealer sales for Great Dane.

In a conventional reefer trailer the insulating foam degrades over time, “and you lose 25 to 35 percent of the insulating ability with a traditional lining,” he says.

The result is increased fuel use as the reefer unit works harder to keep the trailer cool. And, not only is the fuel usage increasing, the reefer unit is running more hours, which adds to wear and tear and more frequent oil changes.

Great Dane’s field tests, run over a 7 year period, resulted in approximately 2,000 gallons of fuel saved for a single truckload operation.

Chris says that the ThermoGuard liner is also stronger. “It’s a derivation of our PunctureGuard product. It’s very resistant to being cut or torn compared to traditional liners, which protects the cleanliness of the trailer.”

Larry Cantanzaro, vice president for safety, Kane is Able, echoes the benefits of sustainability initiatives. The carrier recently purchased fifty International ProStar tractors, which are helping Kane keep fuel costs down, he reports. Ideally, if the government started offering incentives for investing in fuel efficient equipment, the financial benefits would be even greater, Cantanzaro asserts.

In the meantime, Kane has implemented a variety of sustainability measures. “One example is setting truck governors to 62 mpg, which not only keeps the speed down, but encourages the drivers to use cruise control, which also saves fuel,” explains Cantanzaro.

The carrier also uses auxiliary power units (APUs) and super single tires to help reduce fuel costs on its fleet.

In addition, Kane continues to promote the advantages of load consolidations to its customers. “We have been agents of change trying to push our customers in that direction,” says Cantanzaro. Fortunately, “customers are becoming more receptive to it and it’s begun to grow, especially as freight rates have started to climb.”

 

An emerging interest in CNG and LNG

The industry has started to pay more attention to alternative fuels, specifically compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid natural gas (LNG).

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