HDT's Innovators on Leading Fleets into the Future - Fleet Management

HDT’s Innovators on Main Fleets into the Future – Fleet Administration

Six of the trucking trade’s main revolutionary fleet execs shared their ideas on scorching points at HDTX.

Picture: Tavits for HDT

When you concentrate on innovation in trucking, today scorching subjects reminiscent of battery-electric autos and autonomous expertise might come to thoughts. However being a forward-looking trade chief entails much less horny, however no much less necessary, areas as properly, reminiscent of security and upkeep.

HDT’s 2022 Truck Fleet Innovators mentioned all these subjects and extra on the current Heavy Obligation Trucking Change occasion in Scottsdale, Arizona. There they had been offered with their Innovator trophies by Editor in Chief Deborah Lockridge and Chris Cooler, VP of gross sales and advertising and marketing from Innovators sponsor East Manufacturing. The awards ceremony was adopted by a panel dialogue moderated by Jim Park, HDT Tools Editor, kicked off with a few questions from Cooler to the six-person panel. (Two of this 12 months’s eight Innovators had been unable to attend or to ship a consultant to just accept the award on their behalf.)

Engaged on the Future of Trucking

At PGT Trucking, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, its Way forward for Flatbed program encompasses company initiatives that concentrate on creating revolutionary delivery options for our clients whereas assembly environmental sustainability objectives and enhancing the motive force and worker life-style.

It is an effort that firm officers are investing a number of effort and time into, with an innovation committee of “people who find themselves sensible and keen to unravel issues,” mentioned Andrew Erin, director of security and threat, who was there to just accept the award on behalf of PGT President Gregg Troian.

As a part of the Way forward for Flatbed initiative, PGT is piloting each autonomous expertise and zero-emissions vans.

“We’re in early days in each initiatives,” he mentioned. “In speaking to clients they’ve two main issues,” he defined. “One is capability and the opposite is drivers.”

A lot of its massive clients have particular targets for net-zero and carbon depth. “They don’t understand how precisely they’re going to get to that, in order that they’re actually eager about listening to about what we’re doing,” he mentioned. “Our view is that if we don’t discover a technique to make these items occur we’re not going to be right here ultimately.”

Zero-Emissions Vehicles

Tony Williamson got here to Complete Transportation Companies Inc., often known as TTSI, in 2007 with a background in environmental, initially becoming a member of the corporate as director of operations, at a time when the Ports of Los Angeles and Lengthy Seaside had been ramping up their first Clear Air Motion Plan.

Williamson was there on behalf of CEO Vic La Rosa, who handed away this summer season, to just accept the award posthumously on his behalf. At the moment, Williamson is director of compliance and sustainability.

“Vic said then that he would flip his fleet to zero emissions as quick because the expertise was accessible,” he recalled. This was at a time when many in trucking had been involved the new clean-air guidelines went too far, too quick.

“When battery-electric first got here out, it was a joke; we solely bought two hours out of these batteries.”

However by the point TTSI examined two Nikola Tre electrical truck lately, he mentioned, issues had been a lot improved. One truck averaged 147 miles a day and nonetheless had battery energy left over.

“We had been simply blown away,” Willamson mentioned. “It was Vic’s imaginative and prescient to proceed pushing that. One among his final issues,” he recalled, getting emotional, “Vic known as me on the finish of Could and mentioned, ‘If they will go $3,200 on a lease, we’ll purchase these vans.’

“We’ve a brand new CEO; he got here in and mentioned we’ll push Vic’s imaginative and prescient. Vic was my mentor and I’ll actually miss him.”

TTSI began testing and demonstrating fuel-cell-electric expertise beginning in 2009, identified Williamson. The corporate operated the primary gas cell truck in a drayage utility, he mentioned, from 2011 to 2014. Nonetheless, the startup firm that was offering the vans had some monetary points and closed the doorways.

In 2018. TTSI began attempting out the brand new era of FCEV choices – almost a dozen of them. “We at the moment have Nikola FCEVs working for 90 days,” he mentioned. “These vans are phenomenal.”  They’re at the moment working in a drayage operation, however the plan is to place them into short- and medium-haul as soon as they work out “just a few hiccups.”

TTSI is collaborating on Shell on a FCEV challenge for short-haul beginning in a few months and plans to do one with Michelin in a couple of 12 months to see if a FCEV can run 500 miles.

Requested which ZEV expertise is most promising, battery-electric or fuel-cell electrical, Williamson mentioned, “It’s not going to be a transparent reduce winner. It’s going to be primarily based on utility.”

PGT has ordered 500 Nikola battery-electric autos, however it sees gas cells because the extra seemingly long-term answer due to the burden problem.

HDT's Truck Fleet Innovators took home trophies honoring the award.  -  Photo: Tavits for HDT

HDT’s Truck Fleet Innovators took dwelling trophies honoring the award.

Picture: Tavits for HDT

Different Fuels

Zero-emissions vans aren’t the one technique to make vans greener, and that was the main focus of Monte McLeod, director of autogas, ThompsonGas, Frederick, Maryland.

Propane, or autogas because it’s typically known as, is “a gas identical to gasoline or diesel,” he defined. “That is the one nation on this planet the place it’s not extensively used. We produce within the U.S. extra propane than every other nation, 30 billion gallons a 12 months, and we export about 20 billion of that of that. In smaller autos it really works very properly. For supply autos, issues like that, propane is an ideal match.” UPS, Fedex, Amazon are all utilizing propane in some locations, he mentioned. College buses are one other use case.

“You may retrofit current autos, you are able to do mono gas or bi gas,” McLeod mentioned Nonetheless, he famous, propane solely works with engines designed for gasoline, not diesel, as a result of it wants that spark ignition.

Propane can also play a job in fleet electrification, he mentioned. “We’ve bought a brand new skid that may gas propane autos and a degree 2 charger, and you should use it wherever.”

Whereas Keith Wilson is worked up about battery-electric vans and looking out ahead to getting his first Class 8 vans in 2023, he’s additionally an enormous proponent of renewable diesel. Wilson is president and CEO of Portland, Oregon-based less-than-truckload fleet Titan Freight Programs.

“About 10 years in the past we wished to scale back our emissions 20%,” he mentioned. “All the massive firms had been doing it.” However even with all of the aerodynamics and different fuel-economy enhancements they may give you, the fleet solely noticed its mpg improve by 6%. Nonetheless a great distance from that 20% objective, he mentioned, “We began taking a look at all our power sources and occurred to search out renewable diesel.”

As a result of California and Oregon have state applications to advertise low-carbon gas, he mentioned, Titan can purchase it for a similar worth as petroleum diesel. (In different states there’s a considerable worth premium.)

“Then we discovered the upkeep prices had been dramatically decrease; we decreased office poisons, all these advantages led to a aggressive benefit. One of many issues we had was regens, DPF changeouts. We’ve been utilizing renewable diesel for 3 years now in our Oregon operations and haven’t had a regen or a DPF filter changeout in that point.”

McLeod identified that there’s additionally renewable propane, which is claimed is a byproduct of renewable diesel.

How the Emissions Dialogue is Altering

In response to a query from the viewers about tailpipe emissions vs. net-zero objectives, Wilson mentioned, “We’re getting away from tailpipe emissions as a result of that’s only one a part of it. We discuss carbon depth, well-to-wheel, lifecycle emissions. In Oregon if I’ve an EV, it really could have a better carbon depth than my renewable diesel, as a result of we’re primarily coal and pure gasoline power.”

“We don’t must chase EVs; we have to chase the carbon discount of no matter different we use.”

Williamson had comparable issues discussing natural-gas gas. TTSI at the moment has vans working on renewable pure gasoline.

“We’ve to watch out as a society once we discuss zero emissions,” he mentioned. “Just a few years in the past, we had been simply taking a look at tailpipe emissions. Now you have a look at issues like, the place is the supply of lithium batteries? If we use biofuels, is it taking foodstock from customers? Let’s work from the properly to the tailpipe.”

McLeod additionally touched on the subject of general carbon discount, citing DME (dimethyl ether), which Volvo was researching a decade in the past. Also referred to as biomethane, it’s methane gasoline captured from natural sources reminiscent of plant supplies and meat and fats scraps from eating places. “Biomethane and renewable propane can be utilized more durable for decrease carbon depth,” he mentioned. “I feel we’re going to search out options, however I don’t assume they’re going to be what we anticipated.”

“As we transition from a fossil gas economic system…. How can we get from right here to there?” he mentioned. “Are we ready for that [zero-emissions trucks], or are we attempting to do one thing in between? I can’t anticipate 2050. Let’s work out a stopgap whereas we’re determining all the things else.”

Autonomous Automobiles

At Titan Freight Programs, the less-than-truckload operations comply with normal routes, so his workforce is discussing autonomous expertise, mentioned Wilson.

“As quickly as that’s prepared for prime time, Titan could be first up; it could be an awesome utility for us. We hope to be one of many first to start that course of, however I feel so far as being commercially accessible, I feel we’re taking a look at a decade.”

PGT is working with Locomation as a accomplice in creating its Autonomous Relay Convoy system. Locomation’s ARC system consists of two-truck convoys which can be electronically tethered. Its Human-Guided Autonomy answer permits one driver to function the lead truck whereas a second driver rests within the follower truck, which is working autonomously.

Some operations don’t lend themselves to present or near-future autonomous expertise, famous a few the panelists.

“I wouldn’t put ‘em in a drayage operation,” quipped TTSI’s Williamson.

Kyle Kristynik, president of Houston, Texas-based Jetco Supply, there to just accept the award on behalf of former CEO Brian Fielkow, mentioned, “My guys and ladies are navigating the Houston visitors, so I don’t see that for fairly some time.”

“I feel Degree 5 [autonomy] might be an extended methods off in a method that’s commercially viable by way of shifting extra hundreds,” added PGT’s Erin. “However I feel there are firms that aren’t fairly degree 5, extra of a degree 4, limiting the more difficult areas like climate and building zones. I feel we’re going to be working a point rather a lot ahead of a decade, however that sci-fi world, it’s an extended methods off.”

Truck Security: ‘Not Cops and Robbers’

Many proponents of autonomous expertise consider that it may function vans extra safely than human drivers. However at Jetco, the main focus is on individuals.

When requested in regards to the keys to altering the security tradition at a fleet, Kristynik emphasised “discovering the correct individuals, people who believed that philosophy from the get-go; whether or not it’s operations or drivers.”

Jetco hires a really small share of driver candidates. Kristynik tries to speak to every one of many new hires on their first day. “One of many first stuff you hear from me is for those who ever really feel unsafe, name my mobile phone,” he mentioned. “I’ve fired purchasers previously and I’ll do it once more.”

“It’s not cops and robbers; the security dept isn’t there to ‘catch’ the operations division. Within the historical past of Jet, we’ve had some operations individuals and drivers who didn’t really feel that method. However what occurs is their friends find yourself rejecting these individuals and can carry it to our consideration and so they’re gone identical to this (snaps fingers.) It’s our primary, non-negotiable worth.”

As a result of turnover is small, clients see the identical drivers time and again, and people drivers care for the purchasers. “That’s allowed us to develop.”

Individuals, Tech Key to Upkeep

Addressing firm tradition additionally was an element for Tim Gallagher when he took over as vp of upkeep and amenities for United Petroleum Transports, Oklahoma Metropolis.

“We needed to deal with some points that weren’t being addressed previously,” he mentioned. There have been some unhealthy behaviors that weren’t acceptable shifting ahead. “Simply because this man’s been right here for 20 years, no matter he says goes?” No.

It was necessary, he mentioned, to start out out on the floor degree by offering the correct coaching for store technicians, bringing in distributors and different consultants. “We’ve performed rather a lot with go/no go. We proceed to impress that on technicians and in addition our drivers.”

Individuals alone aren’t sufficient, nonetheless. Gallagher is utilizing Drov telematics to produce real-time info on issues reminiscent of tire stress, vibration, and brake situation. “We’ve actual time info; we all know the place the trailer is always, we all know when the motive force picks that trailer up. Perhaps we see a pair tires with low stress and name him up and say, ‘Hey, how was your pretrip at present?’” (A remark that was greeted by laughter from the viewers.) “We’ve had a number of occasions when tire stress begins dropping. Now, not solely can we notify the motive force but in addition begin on the answer.”

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