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No stone unturned

Jan. 8, 2015
Oakley Transport is taking advantage of every opportunity to improve efficiency productivity and safety

At Oakley Transport it’s all about meeting a number of goals simultaneously. “We’re focused on ensuring dependability and low cost per mile while retaining drivers, expanding business, and operating one of the most productive and safest tanker fleets in the industry,” says COO Johnnie James.

Lake Wales, FL-based Oakley Transport is a transportation services provider. From terminals and facilities in several states, the company fields a fleet of more than 350 Volvo tractors and 550 Brenner, Walker and Polar stainless steel, 6,500- to 7,500-gal. food grade liquid bulk, single compartment tank trailers.

Moving forward toward meeting all of its objectives, Oakley Transport’s three-year plan includes replacing all of its tractors. New in the fleet are Volvo VNLs with the OEM’s D13 engines and I-Shift automated mechanical transmissions. Some units feature larger sleepers for long-haul drivers.

“With a driver shortage hitting the industry head on, we’re being proactive in addressing driver needs,” James states. “Our new Volvos have a large refrigerator, flat screen TV hookup, microwave connections, and factory-installed shore power systems and APUs to provide comfort.”

According to Peter J. Nativo, director of maintenance, to boost payload capacity, Oakley Transport is reducing vehicle weight without compromising durability or safety. “We had some trailers built with a stainless steel material called Lean Duplex that can be used to create thinner walls because it’s a harder compound,” he relates. “The weight savings was 700 lbs. per trailer. We also cut tractor weight by about 100 lbs. with 12-in. sliding fifth wheels, and we spec’d Hendrickson Intraax AAT air ride suspensions on new trailers, and aluminum wheels, air tanks and other lightweight items.”

Fuel-saving initiatives at Oakley Transport are carried out by a fuel manager whose primary job is to look at the fleet’s mpg and find ways to optimize efficiency. While average idle time in the operation is in the  single digits, Nativo says fuel economy is up with 2012 and newer model engines. Model-year 2012 tractors are getting 7.04 mpg compared to 6.5 mpg for the units they replaced, saving over $250,000 in fuel costs for those trucks during their first year in the fleet. Between 2013 and 2014, the company added 185 more units with new engines.

Oakley is also outfitting tractors with Carrier Comfort Pro auxiliary power units. “The ROI on the APUs depends on the price of fuel,” Nativo explains. “At about $3.80/gal., the savings are $1,000/month and the payback is about one year. With fuel prices down to $3.18/gal. on average, the ROI is a bit longer, or about 13 months.”

The emphasis on safety at Oakley Transport is seen in several ways. “We just purchased a training simulator and set up a program for all new and existing drivers that is customized for our fleet,” James says. “It cost us over $150,000, but we’re expecting a quick ROI from helping drivers react effectively to the hazards they encounter every day.”

Specs at Oakley Transport also call for the Bendix Wingman Active Cruise with Braking system on tractors and Meritor Wabco RSSplus (roll stability support) systems on trailers. “We’ve had 25 Wingman systems since early this year and based on their performance made the decision to have our latest 100 tractors currently being built with the same system,”  Nativo says. “Their value is proven by some reduced insurance rates and acceptance by drivers.”

At Oakley Transport, nothing is being left to chance when it comes to taking advantage of opportunities to save costs, improve productivity, and enhance safety.

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