I heard an interesting thing the other day when we were wrapping our most recent Trucking Efficiency Workshop at the Auto Research Center in Indianapolis. One of the meeting attendees said what he liked best about the workshop was the attitude of the people in attendance. He pointed out that at many industry events he attends people focus on why they can’t make something happen. At this workshop people seemed more focused on believing that we could make a change and were determine to figure out how to make it happen.
That got me thinking about the role of attitude in achieving goals. I think sometimes each of us is guilty of poking holes in a new idea focusing on why it won’t work instead of trying to figure out ways to make it work. I am not saying we should pursue every idea because of course there are some bad ideas out there. But I am pretty sure that if our first response is to dismiss something out of hand we may be missing an opportunity to make real change and see real gains.
I think it is important to remember that not every change or gain has to be monumental to be worth pursuing. We are at the point in the evolution of truck and trailer development where many of the big fuel saving technologies already have widespread adoption. Think tractor aerodynamics. In doing our research for our upcoming Confidence Report on truck aerodynamics we were able to document the gains truck OEMs have made in making the base tractor more aerodynamic than it was in the past. But we also learned that there are things fleets can be doing like switching to vented mud flaps or wheel covers that will result in some incremental gain in fuel efficiency at a relatively low cost to implement.
While in the past trailer manufacturers did not focus as much on the aerodynamics of their products, the upcoming Greenhouse Gas Phase 2 regulations will likely change that. However, fleets themselves have made great strides with investing in their trailer to make them more fuel efficient. Driving down the road trailers with side skirts and tire inflation systems seem to be the norm and I am seeing more and more trailers equipped with rear tails and very small tractor trailer gaps.
I think these developments came about because people took a more positive approach and rather than list all the reasons why manufacturers and fleets would not be interested in investing in aerodynamic devices, they jumped in and focused on how those devices would get us closer and closer to that 12 mpg goal I know we can achieve.
So the next time someone approaches me or maybe even you with an idea, project or proposal, treat it with the attitude in the way the folks at our seminars do: Ask what needs to be done to turn that idea into reality and then jump in and start working on it. If it’s not a good idea, that’ll show up, if it’s a great one, get going to make it happen. And we’re here to help and support your efforts.