Green productivity

ODFL is employing strategies that boost efficiency and protect the environment

Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL) is as aware as anyone of the impact its operations have on the environment.

“We’re fulfilling that commitment through a series of steps that involve the fleet, facilities and drivers, and in all cases we’ve been able to measure a return on investment,” says Jayna Wade, manager of sustainability.

One of the biggest improvements that Wade identifies is the fuel savings ODFL is realizing from its decision to outfit trailers with aerodynamic side skirts. Supplied by Wabash National, the skirts are specified on new trailers and are being retrofitted on existing units that are less than 10 years old. The company expects to complete the retrofit project by the end of this year.

“While the combination of programs we have for equipment, operations and drivers make it hard to pinpoint exact fuel savings from the side skirts alone,” Wade relates, “we did take part in a wind tunnel test last year with another LTL carrier that showed a 4% improvement in fuel economy. In actual operation, we think we’ll see at least 2% less fuel use from the side skirts.

Since 2010, Wade reports, ODFL has been making extensive use of onboard telematics system data to measure the impact of new technologies and specifications on fuel efficiency. Included are U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay-verified technologies such as trailer side skirts, speed limiters, low rolling resistance tires, and tire pressure monitoring systems on trailers and dollies. The company is also specifying a smaller gap between tractors and trailers.

ODFL employs a full team of people to analyze data, which it receives at five-minute intervals via an onboard communications solution. That information is used to enhance already extensive driver training programs focused on improving fuel efficiency on the road and on reducing idle time.

“In 2011, driver training reduced our fuel consumption by almost 2%, the equivalent of taking nearly 3,000 passenger vehicles off the road,” Wade states. “We fully expect that our efforts in that area last year and in 2013 will produce equal or better results. “We‘re also using the data we have on freight logistics to improve operations,” Wade continues. “For example, we’re now in the initial stages of using a new mapping and routing solution to identify not just the shortest but the most fuel-efficient linehaul and P&D routes.”

ODFL is also mindful of the environment in its facilities. In 2011, the carrier opened its first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified service center in Canton, OH. The certification developed by the U.S. Green Building Council provides a framework for sustainable buildings.

For LEED certification in Canton, ODFL employed a water-efficient landscape design that does not require irrigation; low-VOC paints, coatings and carpet; increased wall and roof insulation; high-performance windows; energy-efficient HVAC equipment; and light fixtures and controls. ODFL estimates that the service center will reduce energy use by 19.7% compared to a building built only to code standards, the equivalent of taking 43 passenger vehicles off the road.

Based in Thomasville, NC, and founded in 1934, Old Dominion Freight Line is one of the nation’s oldest and best-known less-than-truckload carriers. ODFL serves over 48,000 points through 220 service centers in 48 states with a fleet of more than 6,000 tractors and over 24,000 trailers, including 17,000 28-ft. pups.

“With a fleet of our size and an operation of our scope,” Wade concludes, “sustainability initiatives are very important to keeping our promise to customers, our communities and our investors that we will reduce our environmental impact, lower costs and improve productivity.”

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