Do you run transport refrigeration equipment in California? Do you operate a terminal with 20 or more doors where reefer trucks make pickups and deliveries? Maybe you've heard about new emissions requirements coming in just about a year, on Dec. 31, 2008. They'll affect those terminals and every reefer, whether the trailer or truck body it's on is based in, goes into or merely passes through the Golden State. If you haven't heard, you'll need to know about the California Air Resources Board's upcoming regulations so you can start planning now to comply.
CARB's rules thus far have gone along with the federal Environmental Protection Agency's, which regulate reefer units via Tier limits (that primarily affect off-road equipment). Tier 2 is now in effect, and it's not as stringent as EPA's '07 limits for on-highway diesels. Starting in '08, Tier 4 Interim limits will reduce allowable particulate matter (PM, commonly called "soot") by 50 percent. In 2013, Tier 4 Final limits will cut PM by another 90 percent — but Tier 3 does not affect reefers.
In most of the country, you may legally continue to run today's and tomorrow's reefers indefinitely, as long as they meet the limits in effect when those reefers were built.
But not California. CARB wants all reefer units to comply with its upcoming limits. That means many existing reefers must be upgraded, shut down, or sent out of state. Basically, this affects reefers seven years or older.
Late this year, the requirements will affect units built in 2001; in '09, it'll affect '02-model units, and so on, up to 2013, when the most stringent Tier limits are due. Nothing more stringent is scheduled beyond 2013, but reefers then will be so clean that CARB and EPA will have trouble measuring the few pollutants that will still blow out their stacks.
One way to meet the CARB limits, according to Carrier Transicold, is fleet planning: Send only the newest refrigerated units into California or base them there, and use older ones elsewhere. This might work for some fleets, until a cross-country rig makes a delivery in, say, Reno, Nev., and could then go into Truckee, Calif., to pick up an eastbound load, but can't because its reefer is non-compliant. A majority of reefer trailers regularly go into California because its 37 million people consume so many products — temperature-sensitive or otherwise — and so much produce is grown and shipped from there, constituting convenient backhauls. So it'll be difficult trying to avoid sending in the "dirty" ones.
The second way is to buy new, compliant reefers to coincide with CARB's seven-year schedule. That way everything you have will be legal and you can run like you do now. But that might be too costly for many carriers. So the third way is to upgrade existing reefers. This can be done by replacing their engines with new cleaner-burning diesels, or fitting existing engines with diesel particulate filters, which Carrier Transicold and Thermo King are developing. The DPF route is less costly, and would meet the 2013 limits — called "ultra-low emissions" by CARB — so is a longer-term solution.
Either way will cost thousands of dollars per unit. Obviously, it wouldn't be a good idea to upgrade an older reefer that has only a few years of economical life remaining, unless you consider fines of many thousands of dollars per day that CARB promises to levy against anyone caught running an illegal reefer. New or retrofitted units must prominently display a sticker with California ARB numbers. Larcenous souls are sure to produce and sell counterfeit stickers, but can you imagine how irked an enforcement officer would be to find a phony sticker on a non-compliant unit, and how much the resulting ticket would cost? However, choose the legal retrofit route and you might be eligible for Carl Moyer grants. This money can offset some of the upgrade costs.
A fourth way to comply is to employ "alternative" technologies, such as reefers cooled by frozen CO 2 , which are sometimes used on containers. Cold-plate reefers that run locally would also meet the rules, and advances are being made on these. "Standby" electric power, which is an option on current reefers, is a means to comply while trailers are parked. Their electric motors run on 460/480-volt plug-in power supplied from the local grid. Cold-storage warehouses, distribution centers and other facilities will have to provide plug-ins under the CARB proposals.
CARB's upcoming rules must be approved by EPA, which is still considering them. The American Trucking Associations and other groups are urging EPA to block them. But, notes Ignacio Aguerrevere, Carrier's director of North American marketing and product development, EPA over the years has eventually gone along with every CARB proposal, and is likely to approve this one.
More information on all this is available from Carrier Transicold and Thermo King on their web sites, or at their dealers, or from ATA. It would be wise to get educated and plan accordingly, whether it's to alter your operations, buy new reefers or retrofit the ones you have — or get out of California and stay out.
Five Years' Service Verifies Genesis Economy Promises
Sometimes a new product looks like it'll work as its builder claims, but you're never sure until it's in service for a while. An example is the Genesis smooth-sided dump trailer, which East Manufacturing brought out nearly six years ago, promising better aerodynamics with resulting savings in fuel. It stood to reason that with no side ribs to grab at the wind as the trailer moved down the road, it would be easier to pull and the tractor's engine would burn less fuel. An even bigger consideration for truckers is strength and durability. Would the Genesis' new design stand up to everyday beatings?
The answers turned out to be yes and yes for Skip Becker, a former fleet owner and now a one-rig owner-operator from Diamond, Ohio, near Youngstown. He says he bought one of the first Genesis trailers, a 34-foot end-dump, in August of 2002, and it began saving him fuel money right from the start — enough money that he paid off the trailer's $6,000 to $7,000 premium in about eight months. Continued savings made the monthly payments on the trailer. And it's so strong that in more than five years and 550,000 miles "it hasn't cost me a dime," except for a set of brakes.
Compared to his old rib-sided trailer, Becker saw an improvement of a little over 0.5 mpg with the Genesis, raising the average turned in by his Caterpillar 550-powered '97 Peterbilt 379 from about 5.1 mpg to 5.8. "At a half a mile per gallon, you're talking $900 a month" in saved fuel, he says. That boils down to $34 a day in savings at today's prices, and $22 a day when he first got the trailer.
A couple of other features might also help. Becker's trailer rolls on four wide-base single tires, Michelin 425/65R22.5s, which cut rolling resistance and weigh about 700 pounds less than eight regular-size tires and wheels. He tried big singles on tractors when he ran a fleet in Texas, but found that they were "a little slippery" and went back to duals, and they're what's on his Peterbilt.
He also fitted the Genesis with a Tarpco motorized tarp, which smooths air flow over the trailer's top, though that's not its main purpose. State law requires that dump loads be covered to keep stones and such from flying out and damaging other vehicles, but he deploys the tarp even when running empty. "That way nobody can tell me that I damaged their car," he says. "I have the tarp, a full flap across the rear and two flaps over the tires. And still, about every month a motorist will motion me to pull over, and will tell me that I broke their windshield."
Becker operates locally, but he runs a lot of miles almost year-round. "I'm 66, and I still work every day," he says. "I get up at 5 o'clock every morning. I take care of a couple of ready mix plants here. I run 500 miles a day, within a 100-mile radius of the Youngstown area — some hill country, some flat, stop-and-go driving plus freeway miles. I haul limestone, sand and haydite" (which looks like ash, and lightens concrete used for sound walls). "I've got my own authority, and I work for Mack Industries and take care of their Biana Plant near Youngstown."
Genesis' sides are made of patented hollow panels, explains Charlie Wells, East's director of dealer development and dump-trailer products. Panels are aluminum alloy extruded into 2- by 10-inch rectangles, which are stacked vertically and welded together. The walls then are essentially double-sided with internal ribs, and are very stiff. Becker says his trailer is strong and stable, "and it dumps in places where you can't dump any other trailer." This makes insurance companies happy because "they don't like rollovers."
A Genesis has survived at least one rollover unscathed, as another customer, Nelson Hostetler of Plain City, Ohio, recently reported. "We had a 28-foot Genesis tri-axle that ran off the road and into a ditch at 60 mph and laid right over. When we got there, no repairs were needed. We just had a wrecker set it back up, reloaded it, and dumped it. We didn't have to do anything else to the trailer. I was pretty impressed."
Word has gotten around and the Genesis' resale value is high, Becker says. "The trailer is worth $38,000 — that's what they said they'd give me for it, and I would get a brand-new trailer for $6,000, $7,000. How can you go wrong with that? It's a much better investment than a tractor. You run a $150,000 tractor for five years and it might be worth $100,000."
East makes the Genesis in various trailer and truck-body configurations. Becker's trailer sits on longitudinal aluminum I-beams which add strength, but are probably not necessary, Wells thinks, because years of experience with various types of frameless end-dump trailers shows they are strong enough and lighter in weight. It also has a traditional floor using sheet aluminum laid on aluminum crossmembers.
This design has been followed by the Genesis II, introduced earlier this year. The II adds a smooth floor formed of 3.5- by 12-inch hollow panels, making it more aerodynamic and possibly more fuel-efficient than the original Genesis, and definitely more stiff, according to East's tests. But like anything, time and experience will tell.