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7/23/2012 1:45:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Finding Ways to Reduce Idling Can Be Challenging for Carriers

By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the July 23 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

For carriers, the effort to find the best nonidling cooling option for the truck cab has not been without starts and stops.

In Joplin, Mo., Con-way Truckload tested 250 diesel auxiliary power units to cool the cabs in its 2,800 sleeper trucks, said maintenance director Randy Cornell.

Three years later, the truckload carrier is abandoning the devices — which, like all diesel models, run on their own small diesel tank.

“We were not getting that improved fuel-mileage spread between an APU truck and a non-APU truck that we needed to show a return on investment,” he said.

“To justify an APU, you almost have to get . . . about a gallon difference between an APU truck and a non-APU truck . . . and we’re seeing in the range of three-tenths.”

Con-way Truckload is a subsidiary of Con-Way Inc., which ranks No. 3 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in the United States and Canada.

Con-Way is currently testing a battery-run cooling system with a shore-power option on two trucks. Cornell said there is no doubt the system cools the cab, but battery durability is at issue.

“We trade our trucks every four years, so we need something that’s going to last four years,” he said.

Royal Jones, president of Mesilla Valley Transportation in Las Cruces, N.M., started putting diesel-fired APUs on his 920-unit fleet in 2007, trying two different brands.

“As great as they are, it still creates another oil change, another repair, another little parasite sucking fuel out of your tanks, just not as big a parasite,” Jones said.

“Then I found drivers — OK, they can’t leave the big motor running anymore, so now they leave the little one running,” Jones said by way of explaining his switch to battery run, nonidling cooling systems.

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