It’s that time of year again; the time when fleets have to focus some of their attention on keeping their drivers cool as outdoor temperatures climb. Sure there is a challenge to keeping drivers warm in winter, but the cooling challenge is far greater.
The good news is that there are quite a few options available for keeping drivers cool, allowing them to operate in a fuel efficient manner and make the numbers they need for their fuel bonuses. Fleet owners should carefully think about the specifications on their new truck purchases when it comes to helping their drivers be most efficient during the hot summer months.
And some of the solutions require drivers to do a little preparation prior to parking for their rest period.
Drivers should spend some time pre-cooling the truck so that the vehicle’s main HVAC system can reduce in cab temperatures while the main engine is running. Once the driver is ready to stop he or she should try to find parking in shaded and non-blacktopped areas if possible. I understand that this may not be practical given the shortage of parking spaces, but when it is available, go for it – it really helps.
When the driver shuts down the main engine, curtains can help block the sun and keep the cab cooler. Instruct drivers to be mindful of heat loading from the moon roof or upper sleeper windows.
Make sure your drivers are well versed in the proper use of battery HVAC systems or diesel APUs installed on their trucks. If not used properly, these devices will not have the desired outcome of cooling the cab. In addition, consider reimbursing drivers for expenses related to plugging into shore power to augment the vehicle’s batteries thereby extending the length of time they can stay cool without idling the main engine.
One thing to remember is that there are things drivers can do to boost their mpgs so they can make cooling decisions and still achieve the numbers they need for their fuel bonus. This includes things like proper shifting techniques and the use of top gear as much as possible, keeping the engine operating in the sweet spot, and keeping proper intervals between vehicles to avoid slowing down and speeding up.
Our Confidence Report on Idle Reduction explains the options that are available to fleets and drivers for reducing the time trucks idle, but we would love to hear what you are doing to keep your cab cool in summer without sacrificing miles per gallon. Let us know and we can share industry best practices from the real world for keeping idling to a minimum while keeping drivers cool and not sacrificing fuel efficiency bonuses.