Fleet operators strategize to find the best sustainability solutions
Credit: Penske Truck Leasing
The trucking industry is evolving to embrace fleet sustainability in its many forms. Whether using clean alternative fuels to reduce emissions, electrifying fleets, or strengthening the supply chain through strategies such as smart vehicle maintenance and innovative technologies, fleets Private and municipal companies are increasingly deploying strategies that are both clean and profitable.
Penske Truck Leasing said Monday it has ordered 750 Ford E-Transit all-electric vans for its rental fleet. The decision to buy the vans came after successful pilot testing in Pennsylvania and caters to customers looking for more sustainable rental options. The vehicles are expected to be available to Southern California customers later this year, with electric vans rolling out to other markets in phases.
In anticipation of Earth Day, Frito-Lay announced this week that it will launch an initiative to include electric vehicles in its fleet this summer. The company will receive 40 electric trucks to deliver products in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The change is expected to help reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 390 metric tons per year. Frito-Lay said in a statement that it is further decarbonizing its fleet through nationwide use of renewable compressed natural gas and other zero- or low-emission vehicles.
Moving towards an all-electric fleet is just one of many sustainability solutions, industry experts noted.
Carl Lisek is executive director of Drive Clean Indiana and executive vice president of Legacy Environmental Services Inc., which provides technical assistance to the public and private sectors, including fleet management services, to help them integrate sustainable practices into their operations. Lisek said in an interview that solutions such as alternative fuel sources extend the life of fleets and that finding ways to reduce emissions moves fleets towards greater sustainability. Now, he said, decisions must be based on practicality and cost-effectiveness.
“Six months ago it was all about decarbonization,” he said. “Now some organizations are looking to keep trucks on the road and maintain them as a sustainability solution. The industry is constantly changing.
Vivek Bedi, CEO of ESOC Commercial Truck Inc., said his company’s environmentally friendly oil change machines contribute to sustainability solutions by keeping truck fleets active and on the road, improving the profitability of a business.
The ESOC system provides commercial trucking companies with a closed system that fully contains engine oil replaced during an oil change. Using a computerized system that quickly pumps oil from the engine into a container and then replaces the exact amount of oil the engine needs, the system eliminates the need to cool the engine, reduces the time one employee dedicated to oil changes and eliminates engine wear by providing a hot start.
“This engine is fully primed with oil, ready to run,” Bedi told Transportation Today. “There is no metal on metal. It’s durability because everyone pushes their equipment further. Now we have customers who change their vehicles every 600,000 miles. Before, it was in three years. Now they are able to push that and extend the life of the vehicle.
Because used oil is contained and spill-free, it reduces the risk of environmental contamination and addresses operator safety concerns.
Other solutions can help fleets become sustainable in the short term while they develop long-term strategies, said Daniel Burrows, CEO and founder of TruckLabs.
Burrows said fleet operators should develop a three-part plan to address sustainability: determine how the business can impact in the immediate future, decide how the business can test and implement sustainability goals at medium term and define a long term business. objectives for your next purchases.
“There are things we can do today that not only improve operating costs, but put fleets on the path to transitioning to electric in the future,” he said in an interview.
For example, TruckLabs has found that considering aerodynamics can impact sustainability goals. The company said that by closing the gap between a truck’s cab and trailer at highway speeds, operators can save between 4 and 6 percent on fuel. The company’s research found that if half of all Class 8 trucks adopted aerodynamic technologies, it would reduce national fuel consumption by 2.25 billion gallons per year, reducing CO2 emissions by 25 million. tons per year.
“There’s no one size fits all for trucking when it comes to durability,” Burrows said. “Each company must research what is the best solution for this fleet.”
The main motivating factor behind sustainability changes is also changing. Eighteen months ago, he said, the main motivation behind green solutions was profitability. Today, with rising fuel prices and new industry guidelines, this is no longer the case.
“These changes are not coming from the fleets, but from the customers of the fleets,” he said. “Customers want to know what the sustainability goals are.”
While the passenger vehicle industry is shifting towards electric cars, that’s not exactly the case for truck fleets, as the infrastructure to support electric trucks isn’t fully there yet.
“It’s a chicken and egg situation,” Lisek said. “The delivery time for (electrical) equipment is taking longer, the infrastructure to support that equipment is taking longer, and the demand for utilities to have the energy available to support electric fleets is going to take time to build… At present, there are a lot of obstacles and a lot of lessons to learn.
Fleet operators are also considering liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas and hydrogen systems as a path to sustainability, he added.