"Larger bearings that are maintained properly will reduce friction, allowing the system to work less. "Tighter tolerance auger flightings to auger tubes will also allow the unit to unload more quickly and clean out more easily, which in turn uses less fuel." Medemblik says.
Education is an important tool for any operation to use, and something managers should highly value. Feed mill managers should keep their eyes peeled for driver workshops that help drivers understand the causes and effects of different habits as well as provide tips on how proper maintenance can improve fuel efficiency.
EPA Can Help
When it comes to looking for ways to capture fuel efficiency the EPA may not leap out as a potential business partner. That said, it may behoove carriers to check out the EPA's SmartWay Transport Partnership program. SmartWay Transport is a voluntary partnership between various freight industry sectors and EPA that establishes incentives for fuel efficiency improvements and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
By 2012, this initiative aims to reduce between 33 - 66 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and up to 200,000 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions per year. At the same time, the initiative will result in fuel savings of up to 150 million barrels of oil annually. There are three primary components of the program: creating partnerships, reducing all unnecessary engine idling, and increasing the efficiency and use of rail and intermodal operations.
The SmartWay program (www.epa.gov/smartway)holds appeal on several levels: It's voluntary so there's no government mandate; the program works with financial institutions and organizations to develop financing packages to aid a company's purchase of devices that save fuel and reduce emissions; and lastly, it educates participants on such fuel-saving strategies as improved logistics systems, intermodal shipping, hybrid powertrain technology, low-viscosity lubricants and tire sytems, to name a few.
Many large-scale feed mills and grain elevators employ their own fleets of trucks to administer products to their customers. Frank A. Nicholson is the director of maintenance for TransAm Trucking, whose fleet comprises 1,200 auxiliary power unit (APU) eqipped trucks.
Since the advent of higher fuel prices, Nicholson has seen the trucking industry undergo some changes including rate increases, skyrocketing fuel surcharges and some carriers have even gone out of business.
Properly maintaining all aspects of the vehicle will improve fuel efficiency. Nicholson says to start by ensuring that tires maintain the correct air pressure and lowering your vehicle speed limits.
It's also advantageous to reduce your engine's idle time and use synthetic lubes in the transmission, differentials and engines. Regularly checking the vehicle suspension and alignment will keep the truck in top working order as well.
For larger operations that ship region-wide, Nicholson recommends arranging a fuel network which allows trucks to fuel in states where it is cheaper.
Wasting fuel is easier than you'd think. It's sometimes a matter of habit or a function of the vehicle.
"Engine idle time is the biggest waste of fuel. It is useless and nonproductive," Nicholson says. "Driving fast is less fuel economic, but at least you are moving from point ‘A' to point ‘B.' Idling gets you nowhere, while burning fuel."
To avoid wasting fuel, Nicholson suggests that fleet managers of 10 trucks or more implement policies to reduce engine idle time, slow down the road speed of the vehicles to 55 to 62 mph, and monitor tire pressures daily.
Although Nicholson admits that the weight of the load affects fuel consumption, he warns there is a fine line between reducing loads to improve efficiency and losing profit.
"We are in business to haul commodities. You can't haul less freight, as that would equate to less pay," Nicholson explains.
To compensate for not being able to haul less, driving at a lower speed can increase fuel efficiency about roughly as much as lightening the load would.