7 + 3 = 10

Posted Friday, 29 September 2017, 20:31
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The Run on Less roadshow tracked seven trucking fleets around the U.S. and Canada over a 3-week span to showcase highly fuel efficient tractor-trailers using off-the-shelf technologies. The Run culminated in Atlanta on September 24, 2017, and it was announced that the average fuel economy for all seven trucks was 10.1 miles per gallon.
Thanks for the math lesson, Capt. Obvious. Any other pearls of wisdom you’d care to share?
 

Well, yeah, thanks for asking. A few weeks ago we published a blog about the launch of the Run on Less roadshow, explaining how it is a first-of-its-kind event showcasing highly efficient 18-wheelers in real-world operations. The culminating Run on Less event occurred this past Sunday in Atlanta and brought together all 7 tractor-trailers, their drivers, press, participating manufacturer and supplier reps, and all of the event organizers and co-sponsors (including the ICCT). The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) was the lead organizer of the Run, and their Executive Director, Mike Roeth, kicked off the day by announcing that the overall average fuel economy for the three-week event was…10.1 miles per gallon!

This may sound like a low number, but 10 mpg is actually a pretty big deal, considering that the average fuel economy of tractor-trailers in the U.S. is around 6 mpg. According to the Run on Less final results, if all 1.7 million trucks in North America were to average 10 mpg, that would save 9.7 billion gallons of fuel every year, which translates to $24 billion worth of fuel savings and 98 million tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided. By showcasing that nearly doubling the fuel economy of tractor trailers is possible using today’s technologies—and is by no means rocket science—NACFE and the event organizers met their primary objective for the Run, which, according to Mr. Roeth, was to “shock the industry.”

In talking with the drivers and fleets present at Sunday’s event, it was clear to me that all 7 of the trucking teams have 3 things in common. So, there you have it: 7 + 3 = 10 [7 fleets] + [3 best practices] = 10 mpg. Saving fuel is really as easy as 1, 2, 3, and the Run on Less fleets have given us the blueprint.

First off, all 7 of the fleets took full advantage of the many fuel-saving technologies that are commercially available for both tractor trucks and trailers. Certainly, there was no one-size-fits-all solution for all of the fleets, but across the board, it was clear that each company was installing every possible technology that provides them with an attractive return on investment. From super-sleek aerodynamic features to automated transmissions and everything in between, these fleets are clearly committed to pushing the envelope on technology.

What was the coolest technology you saw at the event?

If I have to choose one, I’ll go with Mesilla Valley Transport’s air conditioning system, which is powered by solar panels on the roof of the tractor and trailer! Emanuel Santiago, one of the MVT drivers, told me that this solar panel AC system is definitely one of the unique technologies that sets MVT apart from other fleets. In a humble brag, Mr. Santiago revealed that his minimum fuel economy in day-to-day operations is typically 10.5 mpg and he frequently reaches up to 12 mpg!

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Left: Emanuel Santiago, one of Mesilla Valley Transport’s drivers for the Run on Less roadshow. Right: front view of the MVT truck. The top of the roof fairing is home to Emanuel’s favorite technology: the solar panels that power the truck’s battery-powered air conditioning system.

And that brings me to the second key thing that all of the fleets had in common—each of the 7 trucking companies incentivizes their drivers to have a passion for saving fuel. All 7 drivers commented on how much fun they had during the last three weeks, and a big part of the reason why is that their companies already put a big focus on fuel efficiency by rewarding their drivers for good performance. Clark Reed, a driver for the Nussbaum team, said there was definitely some friendly mpg competition among the other teams, and the drivers were trading notes on technologies and best practices for operating as efficiently as possible. These are clearly ‘mpgeek’ fleets that take pride in being out in front on both efficiency and safety and really incentivize their drivers to perform well in both of these areas.

“mpgeek,” huh? What does that even mean?

Miles per gallon geek! You know, people that obsess about all things fuel economy. And that is the third and final common thread amongst the 7 fleets. All of these carriers put a huge emphasis on collecting data and putting that data to use in their decision-making around technologies and strategies for reducing fuel consumption. Lots of factors influence fuel use—including weather, terrain, payload, and driver behavior—and each of these fleets is using telematics software to track and leverage these types of data to continually improve their performance.

So, that’s the 3-part formula for success among the 7 fleets showcased: 1) A commitment to fuel-saving technologies, 2) empowering drivers to be passionate about fuel savings, and 3) leveraging both telematics and driver performance data.

Clearly, these 7 fleets put the U.S. average fuel economy of 6 mpg in their rear-view mirrors long ago. Run on Less was a great way to help to get the word out to the rest of the industry that these results are no fluke. Double-digit mpg numbers for big rigs are here to stay—and it’s only getting better.

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The Run on Less drivers, fleet representatives, and event organizers from the North American Council for Freight Efficiency and the Carbon War Room.