April 2018

Fleet Management News & Business Info | Commercial Carrier Journal

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30 commercial carrier journal | april 2018 Less risk may be more rewarding when chasing after diesel savings BY JASON CANNON F inding further fuel efficiency gains on today's trucks and trailers isn't easy. With so many options on the market, the math is complex on payback calculations, and the risk can be high for investing in solutions that won't offer a return through their lifecycles if placed in the wrong applications. When considering the array of products available, fleets shouldn't take a big gamble and chase major savings that may never materialize, says Mike Roeth, executive direc- tor of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency. Instead, they should look for solutions that allow them to wade into the water slowly and settle for smaller dividends. "It's admittedly harder to test for a 1 or 2 percent improvement," Roeth says. "Bigger plays with automated transmissions, 6x2 axles and other bigger aerodynamic things — those are ones where a lot more due diligence is required, as some kind of adverse con- sequences can kill you financially." On-highway trucks come standard with improved aerodynamics, and Roeth says wheel covers would be a logical add-on for fleets looking to maximize airflow. "We've seen that wheel covers and the devices between the tires do deliver fuel savings," he says. "Some people worry about their durability and ser- viceability, but those problems seem to be getting smaller." Rolling along A tire's rolling resistance accounts for nearly 25 percent of the truck's fuel consumption. Mike Manges, manager of commercial tire communications for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., says about one-third of a standard long- haul tractor-trailer's drag force is due to tire rolling resistance. While that's led to the prevalence of low-rolling-resistance tires, rubber technology now is being pushed beyond current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, Manges says. "While SmartWay verification will remain part of the long-haul truck tire landscape, greenhouse gas Phase 2 rolling-resistance requirements will drive demand for tires that even exceed SmartWay thresholds," Manges says. "We call these products 'super-fuel' tires, and we believe that fleets will ask for more of them." Tire selection – and keeping those tires inflated – is critical, as for every 10 psi that a tire is underinflated, a truck loses up to 1 percent in fuel effi- ciency, says James Sharkey, PSI's senior director of global sales and marketing. An automatic tire inflation system is one way to mitigate underinflation, Sharkey says. "Have you ever pulled a kid's wagon or been on a bike with underinflated tires?" he asks. "If your tires aren't properly inflated, it's really difficult." A high-mileage van fleet with trucks running upward of 80,000 miles annually can expect to save $600 or more per truck at current fuel prices by simply keeping trailer tires inflated, Sharkey says. "at will almost pay for your ATIS just in year one." Aero add-ons Efficiency isn't a lot of fun until your fuel bill comes. But not every gain has to be science-based and go unnoticed. Rob Stock, general manager of Hendrickson Bumper and Trim, says the company's AeroClad bumpers offer weight savings of up to 55 percent over a seven-gauge steel bumper while also offering a pop of flash and added durability for fleets that generally spec plastic bumpers to save weight. Hendrickson contracted a study to test the fuel consumption of identi- cal trucks, one equipped with plastic bumpers and the other with AeroClad replacements. "e conclusion was virtually no difference in fuel con- sumption between OE plastic and the AeroClad bumper," Stock says. e combination of more traditional front and rear aerodynamic fairings for trailers can improve fuel economy from about 1 to 5 percent each, says Jon Morrison, Wabco's president of the Americas. "Collectively, they can improve fuel economy by more than 9 percent," Morrison says. Meanwhile, trailer gap treatments are showing fuel efficiency returns of about 2 to 3 percent in limited on-highway testing. "at seems to be an area of oppor- tunity," Roeth says. "I thought that was worth maybe 1.5 [percent fuel econ- omy improvement], but we're seeing testing out there of 2.5, 3.5, 4 [percent improvement] in the real world." in focus: FUEL EFFICIENCY PAYBACK Lower fuel bills can make fuel efficiency more profitable.

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