ACHRNEWS

A Greener, Cleaner Fleet

August 30, 2010
Isuzu’s 2011 NPR ECO-MAX low cab forward truck offers up to 20 percent improved fuel economy and payload capacity.

In the ever-evolving world of fleet monitoring and maintenance, it’s not just the vehicles that are being watched these days. As the ability to track data continues to improve, and as the tools for analyzing that data become increasingly sophisticated, smart companies are doing all they can to not only pay closer attention to their vehicles, but also focus on individual drivers’ patterns and habits.

The goal is to ensure that each and every vehicle in a company’s fleet is properly matched to a green-conscious driver, with the ultimate result of reducing emissions that harm the environment. An additional benefit, of course, is that reducing emissions and conserving gasoline can also aid a company’s bottom line.

One example of a company that is progressing in its goal to build and manage a greener fleet is Carrier Corp. According to the company, it has reduced their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than 30 percent since 2006 by deploying a variety of strategies focused on greening its fleet. And that 30 percent is a significant amount, especially because Carrier’s fleet includes more than 3,000 vehicles used in North America for sales, service, and repair of its commercial products.

In 2008, Carrier announced its relationship with GPS manufacturer Trimble. Carrier uses Trimble’s GeoManager solution to monitor its commercial service fleet. The GeoManager system integrates GPS and wireless technologies to enable management of a mobile workforce from any location with Internet access.

DISPATCH AND DRIVER DATA

When people hear the term “GPS” these days, they naturally tend to think it refers to a navigation system. But that’s not necessarily the case for fleet monitoring. According to Denise Cross, manager of building systems and services for Carrier, “Navigation capability is not integrated with GPS [in Carrier’s Commercial Service fleet].” She explained that, when appropriate, “Separate navigation systems have been utilized in vehicles.”

Instead of drivers using GPS as a navigation tool, fleet monitoring consists of installing vehicles with GPS receivers so Carrier is using the GeoManager system to “collect a number of data points” about each vehicle in its fleet, Cross said.

One of the major data points is, of course, location. Using the GPS to track each vehicle’s location enables Carrier to efficiently run its dispatch operations with an emphasis on customer service. Cross said, “It is a combination of global positioning technology combined with the Carrier dispatching system that allows us to effectively dispatch technicians.” Knowing the exact location of each service technician means that Carrier can deploy them quickly in emergencies.

Another of the data points tracked by Carrier is vehicle idle time. According to Cross, tracking idle time “allows us to calculate the percentage of productive driving time.”

This enables Carrier to analyze individual drivers’ patterns and habits, and then to take action as necessary to encourage greener driving. Cross explained, “When an improvement opportunity is identified, it is discussed with individual drivers to help them better manage driving practices.”

Not only does Carrier use GPS to dispatch vehicles and monitor driving patterns, it also tracks other data that enables proper fleet maintenance. “We have the capability to monitor a variety of data points including maintenance history, miles per gallon, and stop detail,” Cross said. According to the company, its fuel economy performance has dramatically improved since it implemented the GeoManager system, with an average mile per gallon increase of nearly 7 percent.

RIGHT-SIZED VEHICLES

To further green its fleet, Carrier has also focused on right-sizing vehicles. According to the company, “Before right-sizing efforts began, Carrier service technicians used standard, one-size-fits-all vehicles. The business reality is that some need large trucks, while others carry less equipment and are better served by more compact vehicles that cost less and are more fuel efficient.”

Cross said, “As an example, we shifted salespeople from trucks and SUVs and placed them in energy-efficient cars.” These energy-efficient cars include hybrids and smaller engine vehicles. Cross continued, “We also looked at service technician vehicles and matched the contents and weight of tools, and the size of the vehicles to the specific tasks for which the technician was responsible.”

Another savings opportunity was presented through this data - a chance to remove unnecessary vehicle weight and save on gasoline usage. “We matched the vehicle user job responsibilities to the equipment and tools that were needed, and removed material that was not required on a daily basis,” Cross said.

SUSTAINABLE SUCCESS

Using the data provided by its GPS solution, Carrier has been able to make consistent adjustments across its fleet. And the company has reaped the environmental and economical benefits of a greener fleet.

“Greening our fleet is another example of Carrier’s environmentally sound business practices,” said Erv Lauterbach, president of Carrier Building Systems and Services. “We have generated more than $1 million in fuel savings since 2008, and our reduction in GHG emissions since 2006 is equivalent to removing more than 3,000 cars from the road. We are committed to sustainability across our products, services, and operations.”

Sidebar: Eco-Friendly

If you’re looking at the latest models of trucks in an attempt to boost your miles per gallon and green your fleet, Isuzu has a new option for you. The company announced its 2011 NPR Eco-Max low cab forward truck, which it says offers up to 20 percent improved fuel economy and payload capacity compared to its predecessors.

“The NPR Eco-Max is the result of Isuzu’s commitment to help our environment by significantly reducing emissions and fuel usage,” said Shaun Skinner, executive vice president and general manager of Isuzu Commercial Truck of America Inc. “This truck is a product of our SEE design philosophy, which stands for Safety, Economy, and Environment. This model has been specifically created to reduce the cost of ownership while meeting the world’s most stringent emissions requirements. We accomplished this without sacrificing performance, durability, or operating costs. Due to its broad torque curve, power density, and 6-speed transmission, the NPR Eco-Max has shown better hill climbing ability than the model it replaces. It’s also up to 170 pounds lighter, so it offers increased payload capacity. We expect this unit to deliver enhanced productivity, minimum downtime, and the lowest operating cost in the Class 3 truck segment.”

The new 2011 truck is powered by Isuzu’s 4JJ1-TC diesel engine, which has operated globally in Isuzu’s N-Series models for the last five years but is being brought to the U.S. market for the first time in this model. The turbocharged, 4-cylinder, 3-liter engine delivers 150 horsepower and is 2010 EPA and CARB OBD compliant.

Skinner added, “Isuzu is proud to introduce a product that meets the world’s most stringent emissions standards while reducing our customer’s cost of ownership through significantly improved vehicle fuel economy.”

Isuzu started taking orders for the 2011 models in March and began production in July.

For more information, visit www.isuzucv.com.

Publication date: 08/30/2010