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IdleAir at 5 Years Post-Purchase: Growing, Changing

April 10, 2015

By Deborah Lockridge

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IdleAir's overhead truss system. Photo courtesy IdleAir
IdleAir's overhead truss system. Photo courtesy IdleAir

It's been five years since the defunct Idle Aire was bought by Convoy Solutions and renamed IdleAir, and the revived company continues to expand locations as well as types of services and packages.

IdleAir offers heat and air conditioning, power, TV, Internet and other services at truckstops, terminals and other locations to reduce overnight truck idling.

In an update at the recent Mid-America Trucking Show, Convoy CEO Ethan Garber said in those five years, "We found ways it works, ways it doesn't work, and ways it works even better," such as in IdleAir's addition of installations at fleet terminals in addition to the old truckstop locations.

The new company preserved about 6,000 parking spaces' worth of hardware. A lot of it is still in storage, but about 600 of those have been refurbished and redeployed. The operational space count is closer to 1,200, including the ones already installed and just reactivated. The company has doubled its footprint from the original 20 "legacy locations" it reopened soon after taking over.

The recent lower price of diesel prompted IdleAir to launch some new bundled discount pricing programs in an effort to both streamline offerings and make them more affordable. A 40-hour reset special is designed for drivers taking a 34-hour restart. "We try to have it cost less than half the price of staying in a hotel," Garber said. There's also a 10-hour special price for TV and Internet access without the HVAC aspects of the system. There's also a  new 12-hour discount bundle for Owner-Operator Independent Driver members.

Some recent milestones:

  • Over the winter, IdleAir absorbed most of the assets and operations of the former American Idle Reduction (AIR), whose predecessor was Airedock. IdleAir is currently working to modify some of those locations to be IdleAir enabled, especially those located at turnpike locations. "Some of these lcoations are in interesting places that enhance our footprint," Garber said. "Others we might shrink." Those use a pedestal-type solution that often is a better fit for locations than the IdleAir overhead truss system, he said. AIR also brought to the company MediDock, a proprietary idle-mitigation sytem for the ambulance industry. "Ambulances already have 120-volt capability, but they also have very expensive drugs in the back of their module that are sensitive to temperature," Garber noted.
  • IdleAir is building a new facility in Nuevo Laredo in Mexico, its first location outside of the U.S., for EGOBA Transportadora. "Diesel prices are higher there now than they are in the states," Garber noted. "Most of their fleets don't like to have drivers stop at truckstops and possibly get hijacked or worse, so they tend to go hub to hub and have very large terminal facilities." It's a situation that works very well for IdleAir dedicated terminal facilities.
  • It recently completed building the first of several dedicated IdleAir terminals for Covenant Transport at its headquarters in Chattanooga, Tenn. It mirrors similar facilities it has done for carriers such as Con-way and C.R. England.
The unit that fits into the truck window. Photo courtesy IdleAir
The unit that fits into the truck window. Photo courtesy IdleAir

IdleAir also continues to improve the technology itself.

It is finishing beta testing of a motorized lift for service modules and hoses, which will make it easier for drivers to insert and remove the standard window units, which weigh more than 50 pounds. It also will allow IdleAir to install electrified parking spaces in pull-through locations, which should broaden the range of parking locations.

It's also completing beta tests of a mobile tablet unit, which will allow truckstop staff to sign up customers, troubleshoot hardware issues and do customer account maintenance outside the IdleAir office. "This capability is going to become increasingly critical as we ramp up our experimental parking reservation service at select locations," Garber explained.

IdleAir is working to upgrade bandwidth options, with nearly half of its locations sporting at least 10 MB of broadband access and one already at 100 MB.

CORRECTED April 13, 11 a.m. EDT, to correct the spelling of MediDock, correct the trucking company for which the Mexican terminal facility is being built, and clarify the number of parking spaces currently equipped with IdleAir as well as the goal for pricing. We apologize for any confusion.

Comments

  1. 1. Hellbent [ April 14, 2015 @ 10:53AM ]

    I'm surprised they still even exist. 6 years ago it looked like they had priced themselves completely out of the market by charging you more than your fuel would cost you to idle your truck for the night. And in my case, in 2009 my truck only burned 1/2 gallon per hour and I rarely ever idled for more than 6 hours unless the weather was extreme. So, it was simply cheaper to idle. They tried to say it was cheaper than staying in a hotel but how is hotel cost even relevant when 90% of all drivers sleep in the truck? Which is already 90% cheaper than a hotel. Not really cost effective for the small 1 and 2 truck operations. And it was obvious they exploited the anti idle laws too that forced drivers to either pay their ridiculous price or break the law idling or find somewhere else to park. Many chose the latter. You could simply buy a high end APU for what you would pay Idle air over 2 or 3 years.

 

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