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Winter Highway Traffic Congestion Marc Bruxelle Dreamstime 5fb53e4c37dba

Time to reconsider your idle reduction plans

Nov. 18, 2020
Prepare for winter by determining how drivers can stay comfortable in the cab during idle times.

Colder weather is setting in — in fact some parts of the country already have seen snowfall. This is a good time of year to review options for keeping drivers comfortable in the cab while reducing the amount of time a truck spends idling.

The good news is that fleets have a number of options when it comes to achieving both of these goals.

In NACFE's recently updated Idle Reduction Confidence Report, we found that fleets are having the most success controlling idling by choosing one of four technologies as the “anchor” of their overall idle-reduction strategies, and then adding other technologies that best complement or support the anchor.

The four anchor choices are:

  1. Driver controls + fuel-operated heater
  2. Diesel APU + fuel-operated heater
  3. Battery HVAC + fuel-operated heater
  4. Automatic engine start/stop system

Begin by determining which of these options is best for your specific needs and goals. The Idle Reduction Confidence Report includes information on both the benefits and challenges for each technology, and we recognize that when it comes to idle reduction there is no one right solution for all fleets.

Once you have decided on the core solution, you can look at ancillary solutions to see if they have the potential to reduce idling even further while still providing a good return on investment.

Reducing idling time saves fuel, improves a fleet’s green image and adds to driver satisfaction — given the trucking industry’s perennial driver shortage keeping drivers happy is no small thing.

Just how much you can save from reducing idling will depend on the specifics of your operation. But here is a rough guide. A 10% annual reduction in idling is worth about 1% in fuel economy, translating to about $500 to $700 annually at $3/gallon fuel prices and 100,000 miles/year. And a reduction of 20% is not unreasonable if the right combination of technologies is employed and managed.

The good news when it comes to reducing idling is that there are a large number of choices that can meet the needs of a variety of fleets and many can be combined which results in an optimal solution.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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