Posts Tagged “Freightliner”

Big Rig Owner Slashes Fuel Costs, Increases MPG

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BullyDog1More than three million heavy-duty Class 8 trucks move 9.2 billion tons of freight annually along America’s arterial highways, according to the American Trucking Associations. It takes over 37 billion gallons of diesel fuel to move this freight, costing over $121 billion. Fuel costs are the largest variable cost in trucking. How can you control this? Invest in simple technology to boost mpg.

One man is doing exactly that.  Meet Daniel and his wife, Phyllis Snow, of Snow Trucking who are adopting the latest technology to slash fuel costs and become more competitive in the dry freight business.

By employing a methodical, almost scientific, approach to evaluating new technologies, the husband and wife team have transformed their 1996 freightliner classic XL with over 1.8 million highway miles from a 4.8 mpg vehicle to 7.5.

Two years later, the couple has documented savings of $30,000 in diesel fuel costs for the truck they affectionately refer to as “the Goose.” If every operator was as progressive as the Snow’s, the industry would save billions in fuel, not to mention the positive impact on the environment.

Targeting Fuel Costs

In 2012, the husband-and-wife team made the move from hauling livestock on a regional basis to dry freight runs throughout the Central and Southern United States. Facing stiff competition, they quickly realized that they needed to re-think their fixed and variable costs.

“The very first thing to know in any business, including trucking, is your operating costs,” emphasizes Daniel Snow. “Once you determine that, you discover that fuel is eating you up when it’s over 32%.”

At the time, fuel costs for the Goose was a whopping 48% of their total expenses. So the couple decided to marry their old school professionalism and service with a commitment to apply new technologies that could drive down fuel costs.

Team Snow was determined to look beyond OEM claims of fuel savings and instead consider all available aftermarket products. Snow arrived at this conclusion by meticulously examining his own fuel consumption data, quickly discovering that “a lot of time, the data [from manufacturers] appeared skewed.”

“Our major goal over these last two years was to find real raw data, highway data, that is not manipulated in any way.”

To accomplish this, Snow engaged in a step-by-step approach to document fuel consumption and any associated savings. They identified and installed various fuel saving devices and then kept detailed notes and calculations. No two devices were applied at the same time.

“Just about everything we do, we do in phases. That way we know exactly what each individual product is doing for us,” says Snow.

Gauge Tuners to Improve Engine Performance

At the top of Snow’s list was investigating high-performance gauge tuners that help reduce fuel consumption and improve engine performance.

While not all gauge tuners are equal, these devices typically focus on tuning the engine control module (ECM) to improve performance and then some provide additional features such as a driving coach or diagnostic reader.

Besides the obvious discriminator of wanting the tuner that optimized fuel savings the most, Snow insisted on being able to upload the tune himself and not mail away his ECM, which would result in significant big rig down time and lost revenue. “We wanted to buy the tuner, not just a tune,” says Snow.

All of a sudden, the list of options became very thin. In fact it melted away to one – the Heavy Duty Gauge Tuner (HDGT), a Bully Dog product from Derive Systems.

Snow installed the device on the Goose’s 60-series Detroit Diesel in January of 2013.

Describing himself as “mechanically inclined, but not computer inclined” he was able to plug it in, follow the prompts on the screen, and complete a short download in less than 15 minutes.

“I was really impressed with how simple it was to plug-and-play,” says Snow.

The unit was installed, while he and his wife were on the road, at a shipper’s facility in Atlanta, Georgia. This was significant, because the couple had recently completed three identical runs from Atlanta to the final destination in Texas.

“We had completed that run several times, so we knew exactly what that load cost us,” explains Snow.

The initial test run of the engine programmer yielded an immediate saving of $174.

Snow then began calculating the fuel savings every 1,000 gallons of fuel; after calculating the results, the Goose had gained 1.4 mpg on average.

The next step was to take advantage of the HDGT’s unit’s “driving coach,” which offers tips that help develop positive driving habits to improve fuel economy.

“We started adjusting our driving habits using the monitor and gained another 0.7 miles per gallon, just by plain old driving better,” says Snow.

Over the past two years, Snow has traveled 236,000 additional miles with the engine tuning software and saved over $30,000.

“Other truckers will find that in a very short period of time the investment in the heavy duty gauge tuner will go from a ‘cost’ category and move across the page to the ‘income’ side,” says Snow. “For us it was after 4.5 months when the technology converted to a profit center.”

To squeeze out even more fuel savings, the couple also installed a SmartTruck Undertray system on their trailer to smooth the rig’s aerodynamic profile. This change netted an additional 0.4 mpg.

Finally, they installed another Bully Dog product from Derive Systems, a ceramic-coated exhaust manifold that added 0.2 mpg.

The grand total was an additional 2.7 mpg, boosting The Goose from 4.8 to 7.5 mpg.

More importantly, Snow says, “it took us from being non-competitive on what we were bidding on to being more efficient than most company-style trucks out on the road.”

Declining Diesel Prices Triggers Need for Efficiency

It may seem counterintuitive, but the recent decreases in diesel fuel prices actually makes increasing fuel efficiency even more critical.

Savings from the decrease in fuel prices are often offset by plummeting freight rates. Even if both were to drop proportionally, this doesn’t take into account the fixed costs of trucking – insurance, tags, and trailer payments – that don’t change.

So what does Snow intend to do with the money he saves? In addition to paying his personal bills and setting a little aside for retirement in the not-too-distant future, the couple would like to contribute more to charities, indulge in good food and add more chrome to the Goose.

“The more money we don’t have to put in the fuel tank, the better; and the more money we have for ourselves and others,” concludes Snow.

By Marissa Muller, Derive Systems.

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Meijer Diesel Fleet Improves Fuel Efficency, Cuts Carbon Foot Print

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MeijerTruckMidwest retailer Meijer operates one of the largest all-clean diesel fleets in North America. As part of its ongoing green initiatives, the Grand Rapids, MI-based retailer’s fleet utilized innovative technology to improve fuel efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint by nearly 60 percent since it first began implementing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 near-zero emissions standards three years ago.

The Meijer fleet is comprised of 170 Freightliner Cascadia trucks that are equipped with new fuel-efficient, reduced-emissions engines. They feature selective catalytic reduction technology that treats nitrogen oxides emissions downstream in the exhaust so the engine can be tuned to run more efficiently and economically. SCR technology consists of an after-treatment catalyst system that allows engine exhaust to be treated with a non-hazardous fluid known as diesel exhaust fluid that reduces harmful nitrogen oxides into simple nitrogen and water.

“This is an extremely rewarding achievement that truly speaks to our commitment to the environment,” Rick Keyes, executive vice president of supply chain operations and manufacturing, said in a press release. “Not only are we integrating cutting-edge technology into our business, we’re also working under the philosophy that to be a good company, we must be a good neighbor.”

The Meijer fleet was one of the first in North America to implement the federal clean emissions standards that feature near-zero emissions technology, and today the retailer’s fleet of 170  big rigs meets or exceeds those stringent requirements.

As a result of that commitment, the Meijer fleet realized the following: 

  • 47 percent reduction in particulate matter
  • 55 percent reduction in – or 525 U.S. tons of – nitrogen oxide
  • 3 percent reduction in – or 9,300 U.S. tons of – carbon dioxide
  • 5 percent increase in fuel economy, saving 105,570 gallons of fuel each year. In five years, that equals a savings of 527,850 gallons of fuel – or 52,785 barrels of oil.

According to David Hoover, director of outbound logistics, it takes 47 of the new 2010 compliant trucks to equal the same emissions as one of the older trucks they replaced.

“I’m very pleased to say that Meijer is able to cut that down and continue to be environmentally conscious,” Hoover said. “The impact is tremendous because the Meijer fleet makes deliveries to our stores 26 times each week.”

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Fernado Jemenez is both a Company Driver, Small Fleet Owner

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DSCN0503While the Peterbilt may be considered the Cadillac of trucks with many drivers, Fernado Jemenez will take a Freightliner anyday.  He’s driven both.

Fernado is both a company driver and a small fleet owner. caught up with the Los Angeles-based trucker a couple of months ago at a Pilot Truck Stop  in Vienna, GA, while he was waiting word from dispatch for his next load.

He is driving for I&F Transportation and operating a 2005 Peterbilt, powered by a 470 h.p. Cat diesel, and pulling a 53-Utility trailer with a Carrier reefer unit.

The 40-year-0ld trucker says, “I’m just not happy with this Pete.  It shakes too much; rides rough, and there just is not enough room in the sleeper.  I want to drive a Classic.  I own two Freightliners, and I like them a lot.”

He says the Peterbilt consumes too much fuel and only averages 4.5 mpg.

As the small fleet owner of FJ Transport, he prefers his Freightliners.  His own company uses a combination of working directly with some shippers on loads, while using brokers on others.

Fernado has been trucking six years and wishes the rates on dry freight would pick up, noting that produce loads are paying a lot more.

He had a load of produce from Californa, requring six pick ups that took three days to get loaded.  It was delivered to Pompano Beach, FL.   He deadheaded to Georgia and had been waiting seven hours at the truck stop for his dispatcher to assign a load.

No one said trucking was easy, but Fernado was trying to show patience, waiting on a load to take him back to the West Coast.

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Shaun Smith: His Lease-Purchase Plan is Working

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Few things in the trucking industry are frowned upon more than lease-purchase plans.  Go to work for a trucking company, lease a truck from that carrier with the idea of one day owning it.  Failure  for the deal to work out is blamed on everything from low driver pay to high interest rates and the carrier not providing the driver with enough miles   The truck eventually goes back to the carrier, when the driver can’t make the payments.  Then the process is just repeated.

Shaun Smith of Sanford, FL has been with KLLM Transport Services, Jackson, MS since last January.  The 12-year trucking veteran has entered into a lease-purchase plan with the large carrier and says it is working out fine.  He is making good money, logging a lot of miles and is making a living for his wife and four kids, who ages range from two to 14 years old.

The 34-year-old driver says he is averaging 3,000 miles a week, or about 150,000 miles a year.  He drives a 2008 Freightliner with a Detroit DD15, pulling a 53-foot trailer with a  Carrier Ultama XTO X Series reefer unit.

Shaun enjoys trucking because he gets to see a lot of the country, plus make a decent living while doing so.  His primary complaint is with heavy traffic, especially in large cities such as New York and in California.

He started trucking after finishing high school, got married, and then went into water well drilling in Mississippi.  He then moved to Florida, working in a warehouse for a fast food company.   But trucking remains his first love.

“KLLM is a good company.  I’ve got one more year before this truck is paid for,” Shaun says.  “I got it on a lease-purchase plan.  If you have the money to buy a truck right off the lot, then that’s a good way to do it.  Under a lease-purchase plant you had better have a good carrier.”

Shaun had just delivered a load of soda pop from California to Oklahoma.  He was waiting to pick up a load of muffins in Tulsa  for delivery to Concord, NC.

He also hauls a lot of produce loads.

“I have no problem with hauling fresh fruits and vegetables.  You have to keep a close eye on the temperature.  But I like hauling it as well as anything,” he says.

As far as being the road so much, Shaun observes, “You have to have a strong mind and be able to be away from your family.  It can be hard.  But it is a good career.”




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Randy Boushey: Rates Lagging from Years Ago

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“When I started trucking 30 years ago, I was making similar wages to what these guys are making today,” states Randy Boushey, who used to truck a lot and still owns three older Freightliners he uses when in a pinch.

Randy still has his CDL, still trucks on occasion, but focuses more on being president of A & L Potato Co., a 71-year-old company that packs and ships potatoes out of East Grand Forks, MN.

He recalls making “big money” by comparison to what drivers are receiving today. 

“I wish I’d put some of it away.  What’s the farmer’s prayer?” he asks himself.  “Please God let me make lots of money this year, and I promise I won’t piss it away this time.”

Randy still has fond memories of the days when he spent more driving a big rig.  In fact, he claims he would put another newer models on the road if getting and keeping good, qualified drivers wasn’t such a challenge.

He ships a lot of red potatoes out of the Red River of North Dakota and Minnesota.

Randy has seen scenario from both sides of the fence; as a produce trucker and as a produce shipper.  He realizes how important trucking is to the equation.

“Customers don’t want to hear excuses because they didn’t receive their potatoes because you couldn’t get a truck,” Randy says.  “Getting trucks to come into the valley has been a challenge early in the potato season, because there hasn’t been a lot of outbound loads here.”

Randy points out a number of changes in transportation are occurring in the Red River Valley.  For example, Britton Transport of Grand Forks, ND recently acquired Scott’s Inc., a truck brokerage.  Pardee Transportation of Brooks, MN has bought out Prairie Line, a small fleet based in Fargo, ND.  Plus, there was another trucking that recently filed bankruptcy.

“It is not going to get any easier.  As good as our freight rates are on our commodities leaving here, that is only half of the puzzle.  We’ve got to be able to load the trucks back into here.  With $4-plus per gallon diesel fuel, it is imperative there is a decent rate for the truck,” Randy concludes.

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Freightliner is Seeking the Best Owner Operators

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Freightliner Trucks is now accepting applications from professional truck drivers to participate as a “Team Run Smart” Pro Driver. Each “Team Run Smart” Pro will be provided with a Freightliner Cascadia Class 8 Tractor to use for two years! Team Run Smart Pros are considered the best owner-operators in the business and are industry experts who carry the utmost credibility with their peers. If you are selected, you will be asked to provide expert advice based on your experience on the road and in the business of trucking. Click here for the full list of criteria and responsibilities and watch the video below to see why you should apply to be a Team Run Smart Pro! ttps://

Team Run Smart – Become a Pro

Your truck IS your business. Learn how you can lower your operational costs and maximize your uptime – the keys to increasing your revenue.


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Meet Vince King Who Loves Hauling Reefer Freight

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 Vince King has been trucking since 1978 hauling dairy products, frozen chickens and fresh produce.  He loves hauling refrigerated freight, but dislikes trucking in  California and the attitudes of  many drivers.

A resident of Cuba, NY, located near Buffalo, HaulProduce caught up recently with Vince at the Pilot Truck Stop at  Warner Robins, GA.   “I haul dairy, chickens and produce — it really doesn’t matter to me which one.  The only difference is setting the temperature (on the reefer unit) right for the different loads.  I’ve grown to love that reefer unit over the years that’s behind my truck,” he relates.

Vince drives a 2009 blue Freightliner housing a 470 h.p. Detroit, equipped with a 13-speed transmission.  He pulls a 53-foot Utililty trailer with a Thermo King unit.

“I love this truck.  My boss asked me what I wanted and what color.  My previous truck was a 2004 black Freight, says, Vince, who drives for Sargent Transportation Lines Inc. of Cuba, a small fleet with 20 over-the-road trucks.  “The money is good and they keep me hopping or I  wouldn’t still be here.”

Vince, who has been with Sargent 16 years, had just delivered dairy product in Florida the previous day, which had three drops.  He was on his way to pick up frozen chicken in Doraville, GA for delivery to U.S. Foodservice near Albany, NY.  He also hauls potatoes and onions off of the West Coast.

“I don’t like California.  I used to run it every week, but now there is just too much ‘crap’ out there.”  Vince cites all of the excessive regulations on truckers in California, adding, “You can’t sneeze  there without getting a ticket.  I just took my son out there on a trip.  I’ve decided I just don’t need the hassles.”

Since becoming a trucker 34 years ago, Vince has considered buying a truck, but has always decided to remain a company driver.  “I thought about becoming an owner operator years ago, but right now I wouldn’t even consider it because of the economy.  It’s really hard to find a good company where you can make it with a lease.  Over the years I’ve seen what these companies can do, especially with these lease-purchase plans.”

One of the best aspects of trucking is simply being out on the road, Vince says.  He typically leaves the house on a Saturday evening or Sunday morning to pick up a load.  He is usually home by Friday at the latest.  If he’s doing an East Coast run, he’s usually gone only a couple of nights.

His least favorite part of trucking, which he dislikes even more than the excessive regulations, are the attitudes of a lot of drivers.

“I don’t even mean just the new breed, but some of the older drivers as well.  Sometimes it is just sickening,” he states.

What is his biggest challenge in trucking?  “Trying to figure out what the other drivers are going to do before they do it.  A majority of this is with the older drivers, the four wheelers and the campers,” he says.  “To a certain extent there is a lack of professionalism in trucking.  I”m not just talking about the baby boomers, because you have the ‘me’ generation.  It’s me, me, me.  That is not the way things should be done.”



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