Each year, Heavy Duty Trucking honors a handful of the country's most forward-thinking fleet executives with the title of "HDT Truck Fleet Innovator." This year's honorees include leaders at three private fleets, and one for-hire trucking and logistics company that focuses on dedicated transportation, warehousing and intermodal.
This year's Innovators operate vehicles ranging from cargo vans through Class 8. They are all heavily focused on sustainability and fuel efficiency, including higher mpg and alternative powertrains such as electric and natural gas. They know the value of taking the long view in spec'ing and maintaining vehicles, rather than focusing simply on up-front acquisition costs.
The winners are chosen from nominations from the industry, including those from suppliers, fellow fleet executives, associations, drivers and others.
The 2014 HDT Truck Fleet Innovators will be profiled in the March issue of Heavy Duty Trucking. An award presentation will be held during the Mid-America Trucking Show Fleet Forum on March 26 in Louisville, Ky., folowed by a panel discussion moderated by HDT Equipment Editor Jim Park.
The 2014 HDT Truck Fleet Innovators are:
Senior Vice President, Fleet Services
Bliem has led the charge on several of NFI's initiatives on fuel efficiency, using rigorous testing to determine the best specs for the fleet. In the past three years, mpg has increased over 10% while idle time has been reduced to 4.5%. NFI is a for-hire dedicated logistics company with dedicated fleets across the country, with approximately 2,000 power units and 7,500 trailers. Bliem manages internal/external maintenance of fleet along with all corporate maintenance functions, fuel purchasing and management, asset purchasing and management, NFI Trailer Leasing, tolls, licensing, permits and corporate purchasing department. He has been with NFI for five years and previously was director of operations at Ryder Transportation.
Senior Fleet Director
PepsiCo North America Beverages
Green manages a fleet with approximately 14,500 power units and 11,600 trailers. PepsiCo's commitment to environmental sustainability is a major factor in equipment spec'ing decisions, resulting in specs such as low-rolling-resistance tires, idle time limits, alternative fuel and electric/hybrid vehicles, etc. One of the biggest changes is moving away from the traditional beverage delivery trailer to a tandem-axle dry van using automatic axle lift suspension systems that transform the trailer from a tandem axle to a single axle once enough of the load has been delivered so that a tandem is no longer necessary. Green has been in the Fleet Director role with Pepsi for eight years and in other functional roles within Pepsi for another 20 years.
Director, Outbound Logistics
Meijer is a Michigan-based retailer with more than 200 supercenters and grocery stores in five states. The Meijer fleet operates 200 power units and approximately 2,300 trailers. Hoover is constantly researching and testing new technologies to increase supply chain efficiencies - even if it wasn't originally intended for transportation. Meijer was one of the first in North America to implement the EPA's 2010 emissions standards and worked closely with Freightliner and Detroit to validate that technology. In addition, Meijer operated 2014 tractors for almost a year, testing and validating mpg improvements. Hoover focuses on a high level of collaboration, not only with manufacturers but also with Meijer's for-hire carrier partners. He's been with Meijer since 1989 and in his current position for 11 years.
Senior Director, Supply Chain Fleet
Frito-Lay, Plano, Texas
O'Connell and his team have driven a significant culture change when it comes to improving fuel efficiency and operational effectiveness. Corporate fleet fuel consumption has dropped by almost 20% over the past five years. Frito-Lay, a Division of PepsiCo, has the largest all-electric commercial fleet in North America, and is deploying 208 CNG tractors. The company has been shifting delivery-truck specs to lighter weight more area dynamic vehicles such as Sprinter Route Trucks. Frito-Lay has the seventh largest fleet in the U.S., with approximately 18,000 power units, and 4,000 trailers, ranging from Sprinters to Class 8 day cabs. O'Connell has been with the company for 21 years and in fleet operations for eight years.