Time Well Spent

Oct. 22, 2014

I continue to be amazed at the great ideas that surface when smart, dedicated and open-minded people get together in an environment where they can freely share ideas and experiences to help one another. I saw that again yesterday at our fourth Trucking Efficiency Workshop in Indianapolis.

The heart of the workshops are the roundtable discussions where participants talk about their experience with various fuel efficiency technologies and share real-world feedback on research we’ve done on helping fleets achieve measurable fuel economy gains. The tables have a pre-arranged balanced mix of fleets, truck and trailer builders, component manufacturers, NGOs, and others.  This time we focused on 6x2 axles, idle reduction and automated transmissions.

And while it’s easy to be skeptical given the stresses of managing a fleet, launching a product that doesn’t take off, or developing a product feature that doesn’t get demand, these workshops can be a real place for fleets, manufactures and truck and trailer builders to talk about their concerns and brainstorm opportunities for action to better the products, or share the benefits and consequences of adoption through sharing some best practices.

And we are usually so busy that we don’t make the time to talk through the good decisions we’ve made with technologies or to help someone else struggling with something we’ve already figured out. Workshop attendees got to do just that in Indy and came away armed with fresh information to help them in their operations.  This is so key to all of us having confidence in the decisions we make.

One of the recurrent themes was the role drivers played in the decision to employ new technologies. Fleets repeatedly talked about focusing on adding technologies that will help them find and retain drivers. Several fleets indicated that they are in the process of migrating to automated manual transmissions for their fuel economy advantages but also because trucks equipped with automated transmissions are easier for new drivers to operate and they bring an added safety element to the fleet.

One of our fleet participants shared that a contract driver hired on to his fleet achieved 9.5 miles per gallon last week on a production truck by employing a variety of fuel efficiency technologies including battery HVAC systems, an automated manual transmission, advanced LRR tires and 6x2 axles. These technologies are making a real difference.

A food distribution fleet said that whenever possible they have switched from sleepers to day cabs as a way to reduce fuel costs.

A major package delivery fleet is using telematics to monitor idling and has reduced idle time to 30 minutes per day per truck and when their loads got heavier moved from 4x2s to 6x2s rather than simply jump to 6x4s as would have been the traditional change.

A major fleet said it reduced its trade cycle from six or seven years to five because of the improved fuel efficiency available on today’s trucks.

When asked what they found valuable out of the day, fleet attendees commented that hearing about other fleets’ experiences reassured them about decisions they had already made or were considering making. But manufacturers saw value too. A sales executive from a manufacturing company said attending the event armed him with information he can share with his customers and prospects and that means he becomes a solution provider and not just a salesperson.

It can seem really lonely out there when making some of these decisions.  Sharing your experiences through these Trucking Efficiency Workshops and other such events can help take the risk and fear out of adopting features that can lower fuel expenses significantly.  The next Workshop in the series is planned for November 19th in Allentown, PA.  Join us.  Details here.

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