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Aug 11

Four Tips for Optimizing Green Fleets

green fleetsNew proposed greenhouse gas emissions standards and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be a challenge met by manufacturers. These new proposed ‘Phase Two’ EPA standards are meant to reduce pollution from our transportation industry making trucks more fuel efficient from the inside out.

Industry leaders strive to work with the EPA to determine what’s possible according to currently available technologies and knowledge. With Carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions now higher than at any point in our history – more than 150 times higher than they were in 1850 – we must and forward to address some of the leading pollutants contributing to global change worldwide.

At conferences convergences like the Green Fleet Conference, Green Truck Summit, and the Green Transportation Summit & Expo, there’s been increasing attention placed on green and alternative fuels, hybrid trucks, and more efficient route planning. The focus at these events is on teaching managers how to optimize both their new and used fleets while working to make their businesses smarter and more efficient.

Managers know that buying used trucks with more efficient fuel consumption is one way to save on upfront costs while also optimizing fleets, but there are other ways to “green” transportation fleets as well.

Avoid left turns

It’s no secret that companies like UPS use forward thinking and strategic systems to modify and plan their delivery routes. In fact, since 2004, they’ve been telling their drivers to avoid left turns to reduce idle time and traffic waits, while also reducing the chance of collisions. This was an unspoken system long before it was an official policy, or a policy backed up by their advanced technology ORION navigation system.

Myron Gray, president of U.S. Operations for UPS explains that their 1,000-page heuristic algorithm ORION gives their drivers a system to map out the best routes using practical methodology.

“That means it’s good enough for the immediate situation, even though it’s not perfect,” Gray explains. “ORION doesn’t necessarily map the perfect route for our drivers, who make an average of 120 stops each day. Instead it chooses from millions of trillions of potential routes – to give our drivers a very efficient route. Yes, millions of trillions, based on that algorithm and our experience over time.”

Gray explained that the benefits of this simple policy are significant. “Since 2004, turning right, plus other efficiency-optimizing efforts, has saved about 10 million gallons of gas and reduced emissions equal to taking more than 5,000 cars off the road for a year,” Gray stated.

Reduce idle time

The absolute worst mileage that a truck can get is 0 MPH, which occurs when the truck is stopped yet idling. This can occur in traffic, at railroad crossings, when speaking with dispatch, filling paperwork, or during loading or unloading.

Turning the engine off is a better solution when idling for more than 30 seconds. Drivers need to be aware, however, that turning off the engine may disable certain safety features like air bags – be sure to turn off the engine only when there is no chance of a collision.

Anticipate traffic flow and fuel stops

One of the best ways to maximize fuel consumption and save on costs is to map out less congested routes, needed fuel stops, and rest breaks ahead of time. Luckily for drivers, there are iOS and Android phone applications that can help.

Apps like the Road Warrior Route Planner, and Trucker Path are helping both small fleets and long haul truckers find nearby fuel stations, plan efficient rest breaks, avoid road construction or inclement weather conditions, map the most efficient routes, and more.

Stay on top of preventative maintenance schedules

Things like correct tire pressure, fixing wheel misalignment, changing dirty air filters, and other routine maintenance can result in a more fuel efficient vehicle. Operators must stay aware of these needed repairs and services to maximize their fleet’s efficiency. There are additional phone applications, like My Rig that can help drivers stay abreast of needed maintenance. A few truck and equipment manufacturing companies have also developed their own maintenance apps to assist their clients.

Optimizing right turns, avoiding signal idle time, saving gas by planning ahead, and performing needed maintenance, are all simple operational changes with big impacts. For driver operators, they can also add up to big fuel and cost savings while leaving us all with increases in environmental health.

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