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Werner Takes Fuel Efficiency Message to Employees on Earth Day

April 2010, TruckingInfo.com - Feature

by Diana Britton, Managing Editor

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On Earth Day last Thursday, 600 employees of Werner Enterprises lined up outside its Omaha, Neb., headquarters to get educated on the company's sustainability initiatives and strategies.
The goal of Werner's Earth Day event was to educate employees on the company's green initiatives, in hopes of getting people involved. (Photo courtesy of Werner Enterprises)
The goal of Werner's Earth Day event was to educate employees on the company's green initiatives, in hopes of getting people involved. (Photo courtesy of Werner Enterprises)
The goal of the event was to keep employees of the truckload carrier up to speed on what Werner is doing to improve efficiencies and to get employees involved.

"The more you tell them about what you're doing, the more they want to get involved," said Steve Phillips, senior vice president of operations.

Employees started out looking at posters outside with statistics about what Werner has done with fuel conservation and environmental efforts at its buildings. For example, from 2008 to 2009, Werner saved over 5.5 million gallons of diesel fuel due to mpg improvements alone. This equates to more than 60,000 tons of carbon emissions saved. When comparing 2008, 2009 and the first quarter of 2010 to 2007, the company cut diesel fuel by 20 million gallons.

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"[Fuel] is the number one area that we can improve on our efficiencies and our carbon footprint," Phillips said.

The company educated employees on fuel efficiency efforts in three different areas:

Behavior

Employees learned about how Werner encourages drivers to use fuel conservation practices, such as progressive shifting, braking, anticipatory driving and optimal control. Werner also offers incentives to drivers for how high they can get their mpg. Phillips said this aspect is a competition among drivers, and provides buy-in for the company's fuel efficiency goals. "It's contagious," he said.

The company also educated employees on its idle reduction initiatives. For example, Werner installed diesel and electric auxiliary power units (APUs) in its trucks.

In addition, non-billable miles, or deadhead miles, are the lowest they've ever been for Werner, according to Phillips.

Equipment

Ninety percent of Werner's vehicles are "aero" trucks, Phillips said, and are EPA SmartWay-approved with low-rolling resistance tires.

Trucks are equipped with auxiliary power units or heating units. The company has lowered idle rpm on trucks to save fuel, and it only uses low-viscosity lubricants that help improve fuel economy.

On trailers, the company minimized trailer gap to 29 inches, and uses lighter weight trailers for increased fuel efficiency.

Test Initiatives

During the educational event, employees also had the opportunity to climb inside one of Werner's tractor-trailers, which was parked in front of the cafeteria. The truck was loaded with aerodynamic and fuel-efficient equipment, most of which the company is currently testing.

Specialists from the maintenance and operations departments took attendees on mini tours to show them the components Werner is testing.

For example, the company is testing single wide-based tires and a single drive axle, both of which are lighter weight. According to Phillips, the company has experienced fuel savings and a better tread wear with the new tires, although the results are not conclusive.

Werner has outfitted 350 of its trailers with aerodynamic skirts for practical road environment testing. The skirts are SmartWay-approved and have been SAE-tested to deliver at least 5 percent fuel efficiency.

The company also showcased its automatic tire inflation system, which has proved to increase mpg as it keeps tires inflated all the time. The technology also maximizes tire potential and safety, Phillips said.

The company is also testing a trailer gap of 20.5 inches for wind resistance and "fly swatter" mud flaps, which allows wind to blow through the mud flap and prevents drag.

At the end of the walk-through, Werner set up a trailer full of 24-inch evergreen trees and flower bulbs, which employees were welcome to take home as a reminder of the Earth Day experience.

"The real success that we've achieved," Phillips said, "is all due to the employees."

To see more photos from the event, go to www.facebook.com/heavydutytrucking.



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