"Going green" isn't just for huge fleets like Schneider or UPS. Just ask Jim Burg, one of Heavy Duty Trucking's
2010 Truck Fleet Innovators. Jim's the owner of James Burg Trucking Co., a regional flatbed carrier based in Warren, Mich. He has about 70 trucks.
Jim Burg is pursuing a number of energy-saving initiatives in his 70-plus-truck fleet.
I was impressed by Jim's response when we asked our Innovators waht they're doing in the area of "going green" for our October issue. There wasn't enough room in the magazine to print Jim's entire answer, but I wanted to share it with you:
"I was in Glacier Park, Mont., last month with my family. We took a helicopter tour over Glacier National Park and saw glaciers from the most recent ice age. It was an incredible sight. The tour guide said, according to geologists, the glaciers are expected to be gone within the next 10 years and will not return until the next ice age, about 400 years from now (if I recall the timeline correctly). That said, my comments will be more in line with energy savings as a cost savings method.
"When energy costs dramatically increased in 2006, more timely methods became attractive to invest in, since ROI was dramatically shortened. We first invested in our equipment with a fleet re-ratio to slow our engines down. This worked on many aspects. Fuel economy increased and vehicle range was extended; future trucks can be spece'd with smaller fuel tanks. Engine and transmission life is expected to be extended since rpm are reduced. Trucks became quieter, adding to driver comfort. Earlier models were employed with dash-mounted displays giving drivers instantaneous mpg data. This information assists drivers in making good fuel consumption decisions.
"We are also running a pilot program to explore advanced trailer aerodynamics benefits. We have always invested in lightweight equipment and used X-One wide based single tires since 2001. We are currently recapping our X-One tires with great success, further reducing upstream energy consumption.
"We built our new facility in 2005. It includes motion sensor light switches in all rooms, energy-efficient appliances and the highest rated R-value insulation available. Office thermostats are set on a seven-day cycle. We have a waste oil furnace to burn our used engine oil, which reduces our shop heating costs to nearly zero per year. The shop also has an air circulatory system to reduce foul odors while minimizing heating costs. Our primary inspection bay door has an 'air lock' to keep the shop warm when pulling a truck inside during in climate weather. All exterior lights are activated by photocell. Winter block heater circuits are set by timer.
"Our customers' actions dramatically impact our operations and energy costs. We explained what drives our operating costs and asked for changes to their practices in order to increase our efficiency. Some have expanded their shipping/receiving hours. Others have allowed us to build their loads to our maximum payload. Through these efforts, we have saved thousands of gallons of fuel.
"An update to our operating system was being considered in 2007. The goal is to reduce non-productive and out-of-route miles. Unfortunately, it was tabled due to the capital restraints caused by the 'Great Recession.' I expect to revisit this item in 2011.
"My company is a U.S. EPA Smart Way partner. Since there is direct correlation between reducing green house gases and cost savings, this program can give an outsiders opinion of energy efficiency. I applaud the agency's efforts for this voluntary program.
"I am in full support of reducing energy consumption and increasing the productivity of the industry with an increase in size and weight to 97,000 pounds. I was glad to hear that there was a companion bill introduced in the Senate (3705) mirroring the House bill 1799. The White House [recently announced it] supported permanent extension of the Maine and Vermont 100,000-pound-GVW pilot program. This is an issue every consumer, manufacturer and trucker should be in support of. This proposed legislation has the potential of significantly reducing miles traveled resulting in less fuel consumed, less congestion and safer highways.
"Many of the best practices employed at JBTC are also considered 'green' initiatives. If my cost savings methods end up saving the planet, I'll be pleased with my decision to do so."Read our March 2010 Innovator Profile of Jim Burg here. Read more about what fleets are doing to be "green" in the upcoming October issue of Heavy Duty Trucking magazine.