6 Ways to Reduce Idling Costs

Delaware Regional Trucking

Many trucking fleets are acutely aware of time spent idling and how much it can affect costs and waste fuel. With over 40 years in the DE regional trucking business, Veltri Inc. has often encountered the problems presented by the idling costs that can quickly add up. Here are 6 ways to cut idling costs:

1. Idle Shutdown

Manufacturers often offer the ability to program the engine to shut down after five minutes of idling. Automatic idling shutdowns can be customized for fleets that need engines to idle in extreme temperatures but still would like to take in the benefits of automatic idle shutdowns.

APUs are a common and effective technology, but they can add weight and take up space
APUs are a common and effective technology, but they can add weight and take up space

2. Auxiliary Power Units

Auxiliary Power Units (or APUs) often come in a traditional diesel-fueled category or a category that utilizes batteries and/or electricity. Diesel-fueled APUs hold a big advantage since they can handle the needs for heating, cooling, and any hotel load (passenger comforts such as TVs, computers, etc.) the driver is partial to. However, diesel-powered APUs use some amount of fuel.

Electric APUs, on the other hand, help with fuel use and maintenance costs and are also quieter than their diesel-fueled counterpart. However, they require more careful use of AC and hotel loads so that the truck batteries are not drawn from too much. For 34-hour restarts, some idling or short power is required.

Unfortunately, these APUs do add weight and require space on the frame rail or under the bunk, but every day manufacturers are finding ways to make these units lighter and more effective.

3. Auxiliary Air Conditioning

Auxiliary air conditioning is a good solution for fleets not interested in making the jump to a full-blown APU. A variety of AC systems can match your needs: Dometic offers a system that uses 12-volt power from an onboard bank of batteries (these batteries are automatically recharged by the alternator whenever the truck is running or from shore power).

4. Cab Heaters

Smaller, lighter, and cheaper than APUs, cab heaters are a great resource that can work either by utilizing engine coolant or through diesel-fired solutions. They can be used on their own or may be part of an electric APU setup, but cab heaters do not offer electricity for hotel loads. Cab heaters come in a variety of options that can be controlled by thermostat or digital controllers.

5. Shore Power

Shore power connections can be used in conjunction with the technologies and applications mentioned above, bringing standard AC voltage into the truck cab so that drivers can power hotel loads and other electrical devices. Volvo, for instance, was one of the first North American truck makers to offer built-in shore power connections. To reduce the need for idling to keep batteries charged, Volvo came up with an inverter/converter combo that is able to charge the batteries through shore power or run 110-volt appliances directly from shore power.

The biggest disadvantage is that there is not an extensive network of shore power facilities. However, the number of truck stops offering power has skyrocketed since the beginning of 2012, so powering options will be available more and more often.

6. Off-Truck Options

Some services install devices in parking spaces that provide not only electricity but air conditioning, heating, and other features. The most well-known provider is currently IdleAir, which was bought by Convoy Solutions in 2010. IdleAir’s network of truck stop locations is currently expanding to more and more truck stop locations and these would offer features such as AireDock, a unit that adjusts to fit the driver’s side window to deliver electric power, fresh air, heating, air conditioning, and even Internet access. While not yet as widely available as drivers would hope, these growing locations would be a boon for cutting idling costs.

Using the right technologies and combinations of technologies is dependent on what kind of fleet you’re managing. Taking the time to explore these options and making sure they complement both your business model and your operators will go a long way to save you costs on idling.

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