We’ve all heard the term right sizing. In our world, it often refers to a fleet owner evaluating whether he has the right kind and right number of trucks in his fleet.
But right sizing can also be used to look at the vehicle itself and even the components on your equipment. Trucking has changed a great deal in recent years. For one thing, average haul lengths are shorter. So do you really need those sleeper tractors? Or will a well-appointed day cab get the job done and satisfy your drivers?
Engines are another good place where you can right size. Does your application call for a 15-liter engine? Or will a 13- or 12-liter get the job done? In a report titled Strategic Insights Into Engine Downsizing Trends of North American Heavy-duty Truck Manufacturers, Frost & Sullivan, concluded that engine downsizing is gaining traction in the North American market. It said that in 2011 the weighted average displacement was 13.7 to 14.1 L, which by 2018 it expects to shift to 13.4 to 13.7 L.
Right sizing is about a couple of things: weight savings, the ability to carry more payload and saving fuel.
Right sizing was brought home to me in a real clear way recently when I was meeting with some folks at Navistar. We were talking about our upcoming Confidence Report on Lightweighting and fuel tanks came up. Aaron Peterson, Navistar’s chief performance engineer for on-highway vehicles, suggested that not every fleet needs two 150-gallon fuel tanks. Ask yourself how often the truck needs that much fuel and consider right sizing to one tank or two smaller tanks.
One note of caution, right sizing is not always about making things smaller. Sometimes right sizing means you need to go bigger. Consider alternators. With the emissions control equipment in newer engines drawing more electrical power for passive and active regeneration, coupled with the fact that some idle reduction solutions add a strain on the electrical system so you might actually have to spec an alternator with higher output to save battery life.
The point is, if you haven’t evaluated your operation and reviewed your vehicle specs recently, now would be a good time to do so just to see if everything is just right.