As the summer heat is upon us, talk often turns to how to keep drivers cool during the warm weather without breaking the bank. In fact, it was one of the many topics discussed during our recent Trucking Efficiency Workshop in Salt Lake City.
The Utah Trucking Association was our gracious host, and the 22 representatives from fleets of all sizes seem to have a great understanding of currently available fuel saving technology but also aren’t very confident in how well those technologies actually work. That led to some lively conversation on a number of topics, one of which was avoiding idling and still keeping drivers comfortable.
While fuel fired heaters and a blanket work well in the winter to keep drivers comfortable, how does the average truck driver make it through the hot days and evenings in a sleeper? (The average truck driver is over 50, overweight, and many need the help of CPAP machines in order to sleep.)
Solutions like diesel APUs, battery HVAC systems, auto start/stop systems, and truck stop electrification are all options with benefits, but of course challenges. One thing some fleets are doing is setting parameters to allow unlimited idling when the temperature exceeds a certain level.
But the fleets in Salt Lake City with us had some less costly ways to make the sleeper a little more comfortable in the heat, or to lower the cost of operating some of these other solutions.
Here’s a look at what some of them are doing:
- One fleet bought inexpensive add-on 12V fans for its drivers, which they liked.
- Another fleet spec’ed an auxiliary fan in the sleeper directly from the factory.
- One fleet gave out cab door window screens to those drivers who wanted them. They found that drivers who are serious about fuel bonuses appreciate anything the fleet can do to help them.
- Some fleets mentioned that if you have a choice of staying overnight in cooler high altitude areas, that can make a significant difference, but that can be tough to balance with HOS and logistics.
- One fleet uses the reflective windshield insert curtain like drivers of automobiles use in their cars.
- Another rule of thumb is to park in the shade when possible and select concrete over blacktop when you have a choice.
- In extreme heat, it may be necessary to park the truck and find a truck stop with truck stop electrification or use Hotels4Truckers to find a trucker friendly hotel and get comfortable with the truck turned completely off.
These are all really great suggestions, but I think the biggest takeaway for me from this part of the workshop was the fact that fleets are coming up with innovative ways to solve the problems they face. They are truly interested in not only doing their part to reduce fuel consumption but also to make sure their drivers are taken care of.