Growing a Greener Fleet

Sustainability shifts into high gear as diesel prices climb and regulations tighten.


The movement towards operating a more sustainable fleet is hardly new to the transportation sector. However, as diesel prices continue to climb and emissions regulations become stiffer, the speed at which companies are purchasing more environmentally friendly equipment and investing in software and technology has started to accelerate.

“A lot of big companies have been improving their impact on the environment as part of their values,” observes Tanya Roberts, senior vice president, marketing of Redwood Shores, California-based GreenRoad. “That is a big driver for them to look for creative ways to achieve greener fleets.”

The quest to reduce fuel consumption and lower carbon emissions is another reason the transportation sector is looking at better ways to operate their fleets. In addition, the proliferation of anti-idling regulations, whether at the nation’s ports or at customers’ facilities, are propelling interest in sustainability.

According to the industry experts, alternative fuel vehicles are getting a lot of attention, especially as the network of filling stations has become more reliable. Alternative fuel vehicles, such as those that operate on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid natural gas (LNG), are proving to be an economical and a sustainable solution for customers.

The transportation sector is also pushing demand for more low resistance truck tires. Tim Miller, customer marketing manager, of Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, says the tires can help cut fuel costs.

“The need for tires that offer low rolling resistance without sacrificing other key attributes that fleets require certainly is a trend,” he says.

On the regulatory front, the new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, EPA Tier IV Final, are coming out at the beginning of 2013 and will require new engines to have a much higher emissions standard in comparison to what’s currently on the market. The Tier IV Final standard aims to reduce emissions by approximately 90 percent and will be adopted in both the U.S. and Canada.

Another regulation that has an impact on maintaining greener fleets is the California Air Resource Board (CARB), which requires the trucking industry to reduce their fuel emissions and decrease the weight of their truckloads. This regulation requires compliance for both new and used truck equipment that transports goods within California.

 

Green tools and equipment

Building a more sustainable fleet starts with superior tools and equipment. Following is a list of some of the leading products on the market:

Roadnet Vehicle Telematics. Roadnet’s vehicle telematics merges onboard monitoring technology and engine analytics with software in order to track vehicle usage and fuel consumption. “With the telematics box, food distributors can very quickly figure out: Where am I idling most? Who is idling most? And, in what situations do I idle?” explains Cyndi Brandt of Roadnet Technologies. The company’s telematics tool also helps reduce fuel consumption and improve driver performance.

FuelQuest Fuel Center. FuelQuest’s Fuel Center, a fuel management tool, is another way for fleet operators to reduce their costs and create a greener fleet. Fuel Center focuses on reducing fuel costs by analyzing such factors as inventory, freight, and invoice accuracy.

“FuelQuest provides outsourced services that utilize best-in-class technology to fleet operators,” says David Zahn, vice president of marketing of Houston, Texas-based FuelQuest. Fleet operators can spend more time focusing on their core business while improving predictability of their fuel expenses.

GreenRoad Driver Improvement Loop. GreenRoad’s Driver Improvement Loop helps improve driving performance by combining it with in-vehicle technology. This also gives drivers and managers immediate feedback if their activity is either unsafe or wastes fuel.

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