November 2013, TruckingInfo.com - Cover Story
When we first came up with the idea to feature the country’s top green fleets, the initial plan was simply to rank them based on the number of alternative fueled vehicles used. However, we quickly realized that, to paraphrase a certain frog, it’s not so easy to decide who’s green.
Green strategies vary greatly depending on the operation. For one company, natural gas might make sense. For another, green might mean solar-powered warehouses. For others, it’s all about fuel-efficient specs and driver training.
So the end result is a bit more subjective. We asked fleets, through e-mails, posts on social media, stories on Truckinginfo.com and in our daily Headline News e-newsletter, to fill out a short online survey about their vehicles, alternative fuel and other green initiatives, and tried to choose those who were ahead of the curve in their sustainability efforts. In some cases, we relied on publicly available information. Our focus was primarily on medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Our picks are presented in alphabetical order.
We did not include leasing fleets, but did ask leasing companies for names of their lease customers for consideration. Leasing companies such as Ryder and PacLease have been proactive in helping fleets research and test alternative fueled vehicles and get the most fuel efficiency and productivity.
If you feel your fleet should have been included, go ahead and fill out the survey and we’ll contact you for an update next year: www.surveymonkey.com/s/FZNHSV7
Celadon has received a SmartWay Excellence award every year available since they joined. A significant investment went into trailer side skirts on 8,600 trailers; truck side skirts, cab extenders, aero bumpers, aero mirrors and roof caps on 3,000 trucks; battery operated APUs, SmartWay-certified tires and more. Celadon accelerated new truck purchases over a two-year period so the entire fleet will consist of the latest low-emissions EPA 2010 compliant engines, and recalibrated new engines to produce less than 30 grams of NOx at idle. A website page about the fleet’s SmartWay efforts, including an emissions calculator, helps educate shippers.
Central Freight Lines is buying 100 Freightliner natural-gas-powered tractors and 400 Hyundai Translead 28-foot pups with side skirts. It has built one CNG station and is planning two more.
Central Freight Lines
Fort Worth, Texas
In November 2012, Central Freight Lines bought 14 Peterbilt CNG tractors and put them into its P&D operation in Houston, Texas. After successful testing, the fleet moved aggressively forward and purchased 100 2014 Freightliner M2 112 tractors along with 400 Hyundai Translead 28-foot pups with side skirts.
Central has completed a 120-bay CNG fuel station on its property in Houston and is building a second one in San Antonio and planning a third in Fort Worth. The company is testing automatic tire pressure systems among other initiatives.
Coca-Cola is working to incorporate more fuel-efficient modes of product delivery that produce fewer emissions. The company has more than 800 alternative fuel delivery vehicles, including hybrid-electric, all-electric, liquefied natural gas and compressed natural gas.
Coca-Cola aims to lead the beverage industry in energy efficiency and climate protection. It says it operates the largest heavy-duty hybrid electric fleet in North America, and it’s also adding all-electric trucks like this one from Smith Electric Vehicles
Its hybrid electric commercial truck fleet is the largest in North America, and a 13-month study of the trucks by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found the hybrid group had a 13.7% fuel economy improvement over the diesel group. Drivers are trained in eco-driving techniques, such as minimal braking and early gear changes, through its custom-designed Smartdriver program.
Convenience Transportation, LLC (Kwik Trip)
La Crosse, Wis.
Kwik Trip is practicing what it preaches. The company, which operates more than 400 fueling stations/convenience stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, has committed to developing a functional CNG fueling infrastructure in those states. It celebrated the opening of its 15th CNG station in August.
Kwik Trip is converting its 140-truck distribution fleet, Convenience Transportation LLC, to natural gas.
Kwik Trip is converting its 140-truck distribution fleet, Convenience Transportation LLC, to natural gas. Currently, 34 of the firm’s own trucks and tractors use LNG and CNG, using Cummins Westport 8.9- and 11.9-liter natural gas engines.
Con-way Truckload uses wide-base single tires, governs its trucks at 65 mph, installed Smart Truck Under Tray aerodynamic systems on its trailers, used lightweight spec’ing tactics to cut weight by 670 pounds per truck, trains drivers to adopt “progressive shifting” techniques and more. Used oil is collected from tractors to use as fuel for heaters in the shops. It’s not just trucks – the company added more than 1,000 hybrid autos to its national fleet this year. It recycles paper, cardboard, soda cans and plastic bottles, as well as computer hardware, plus scrap metal from the tractor, trailer and body shop.
Salt Lake City, Utah
This 2012 SmartWay Excellence Award winner has more than 4,500 heavy-duty tractors with an average age of 1.1 years, meeting the most stringent emissions standards. It’s buying new 2019-emission-standard refrigeration units, so far showing a 17% fuel improvement. C.R. England has been implementing natural gas solutions for customers (LNG and CNG) for regional, short-haul, closed loop or local moves where the infrastructure is in place, and plans to expand natural gas use. Driver training, including progressive shifting, has one of the highest returns on investment.
C.R. England runs new clean-burning equipment spec’d for high fuel mileage, trains drivers in progressive shifting as a key fuel-saver, and is expanding natural gas where customers demand it and the fueling infrastructure makes it feasible.
Sophisticated testing programs help evaluate fuel-saving equipment. Tractor aero kits, trailer side skirts, low-rolling-resistance duals, wheel covers and 62-mph governors save fuel. Aluminum wheels save weight and increase payload. No-idle and idle reduction policies, training and goals, bunk heaters and Idle Air have led to a 17% idle reduction in one year. A new policy eliminating solo drivers will also help cut excessive idling due to hours-of-service mandates.