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8/21/2012 9:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Fleets Turn to New Technology, Natural Gas to Reduce Expenses During Slow Growth

By Rip Watson, Senior Reporter

This story appears in the Aug. 20 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Executives with both for-hire and private fleets said they increasingly are turning to cost-saving technologies and natural gas to reduce expenses in a slow-growth economy.

Speaking Aug. 7 at the PeopleNet User Conference here, officials with five trucking companies that utilize PeopleNet products outlined a broad range of financial and operational benefits from new technology and fuel options.

“There is a proven return on investment for technology,” said Charlie Campagnaro, mobile communications manager for the van division of Laidlaw Carriers, Stratford, Ontario. The carrier, he said, has cut costs by about 90% by using in-cab scanners to transmit shipping documents instead of faxing them from truck stops.

He estimated costs per page for scanning at 20 cents, compared with $2 per image at a truck stop. The company transmits about 15,000 pages annually.

Costs also are being cut by using fuel tax recording technology, instead of error-prone and tedious manual processing, Campagnaro said.

“Accuracy means immediate savings and eliminates some paperwork,” he said.

“There is a new reality in operations,” Campagnaro said, as electronic communication replaces a deluge of telephone calls from drivers about loads, routing and other duties that used to bedevil dispatchers.

“The difference now is like night and day,” he said. “Before, everyone called at once and a dispatcher’s attention span was about 30 seconds. Now, there is more time for one-to-one conversations when there are phone calls.”

Jim Coffren, vice president of asset management for Hirschbach Motor Lines, Dubuque, Iowa, credited improvements such as aerodynamics, engine technology and software for improving the fleet’s average miles per gallon to 7.2 from 6.2 after 400 new tractors were purchased.

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