Making trailer aerodynamics pay off

Making trailer aerodynamics pay off

TAMPA. Intensive real-world use of a trailer aerodynamic package developed by Advanced Transit Dynamics (ATDynamics) by Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) is helping to reveal the potential monetary savings such devices can offer the trucking industry as a whole

TAMPA . Intensive real-world use of a trailer aerodynamic package developed by Advanced Transit Dynamics (ATDynamics) by Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) is helping to reveal the potential monetary savings such devices can offer the trucking industry as a whole. At a news conference here at the 2011 Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting, ATDynamics said that 650 of MVT’s trailers equipped with its TrailerTail device saved 60,000 gallons of fuel – equal to approximately $180,000 at $3 per gallon– over the course of six months and 8-million miles of operation.

The fleet and the manufacturer said controlled on-road testing procedures, driver fuel log tracking and engine fuel data were used to confirm those figures.

See video on testing trailer aerodynamics

“MVT’s experience, based on 8-million miles of use, confirms that trailers without tails waste 5% to 6% of every gallon of diesel consumed at highway speeds,” said Andrew Smith, CEO of ATDynamics. “Extrapolated to trucking as a whole, MVT’s experience indicates the industry could save $2 billion annually in fuel costs.”

Jimmy Ray, MVT executive vp, said that the TrailerTail Model 2011 the carrier has been testing roughly saves 4/10th of a mile per gallon for fleet. MVT is making a host of aerodynamic changes to its trailers, he stressed, adding everything from side skirts to wheel covers – even shifting the position of the trailer’s license plate – to wring out a total of 1.2 mpg in fuel savings from its 53-ft dry vans.

“Of course, it comes down to getting our drivers to drive the truck right to achieve these fuel savings,” Ray pointed out. “However, through many changes we’ve made to our trucks and trailers, added to efforts by our drivers to operate our tractor-trailers in the most fuel efficient way, we have trucks in our fleet that are now getting 11 mpg.”

See video on the TrailerTail

The TailerTail Model 2011 is the latest version of a device ATDynamics originally introduced in 2008. The company said the package has been third-party tested under the SAE J1321 Type II standard and so has been shown to reduce the fuel consumption of tractor-trailers by 6.6% at 65 mph.

MVT is currently retrofitting its entire fleet of over 3,500 trailers with ATDynamics’ TrailerTail and side skirts from another supplier, at a cost of roughly $3,000 per unit. MVT’s Ray noted that it takes a crew of about four an hour to install both the TrailerTail and skirts on a single trailer.

Yet, by his calculation, these devices pay for themselves rapidly under the right conditions – at sustained highway speeds of 60 mph or greater for long periods of time.

“We’ve calculated that for every 3/10th of a mile per gallon in fuel economy gains we make, we’re saving $1,700 every 80,000 miles,” Ray said.

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