Photo courtesy of Today's Trucking

Photo courtesy of Today's Trucking

PIT Group have been busy on a project first launched in 2014 that aims to examine the effects of optimized programming on commercial vehicle engines. The Quebec-based PIT Group is a research and engineering outfit focused on improving fleet maintenance and operations.

Today’s engines, PIT says, feature nearly 200 programmable parameters, making it possible to optimize engine operation. So in theory, if optimally performed, programming adjustments should provide improvements in fuel efficiency and performance. We know that, but PIT's discussions with engine manufacturers brought to light their interest in a project that would demonstrate and quantify this potential.

It's no secret that most engines leave the factory and then the dealer's yard without ever being programmed to meet the user's specific operational conditions.

With that in mind, FPInnovations, through the PIT Group, launched a project in 2014, aimed at assessing the impact of optimized programming. It's been carried out with government funding received through Transition énergétique Québec, and was supported by major partners, including Cummins Eastern Canada and several carriers that agreed to take part.

The 26-month project had three main objectives: to develop standard programming based on specific applications, to compare the energy and environmental efficiency of vehicles using these programs, and to disseminate the results within the transportation industry.

The first series of track tests were conducted in September 2016 and included school buses, specialized-haul trucks, and regional-haul trucks. A second series of track tests was performed in February 2017 in order to gather more data. These tests included two categories of vehicles: school buses and local delivery trucks. Unlike the tests of September 2016, three different driving techniques were used: aggressive driving, normal driving, and eco-responsible driving.

Overall, the project led to promising results, which are briefly presented below:

Local transportation: 4-28% reduction in average fuel consumption in the city and 3-14% on highways, depending on the period and test vehicle

School buses: Significant reduction in average fuel consumption, up to 12.4% in the city and up to 9.5% on highways, depending on the period and test vehicle

Long-haul transportation: At a constant speed, track tests showed fuel savings up to 7% when power and speed were reduced.

A pilot project, underway now, sees Cummins offering truck operators the opportunity to improve their performance through detailed analysis and programming of ECU parameters. Interested clients are invited to meet with an advisor to validate the return on investment and evaluate the economic potential on their equipment. Some companies have already taken advantage of this service. For those who miss this promotion, they will have the opportunity to obtain this service by contacting Cummins directly.

The findings of the project will be released next spring in a final report.

Rolf Lockwood is the vice president, editorial, at Newcom Business Media which publishes Today's Trucking and the executive contributing editor at HDT. This article was used under a cooperative editorial sharing agreement between HDT and its Today's Trucking.