7 Types of Fleet Technology for Controlling Costs

Intro

Fuel costs, inflation, and supply chain disruptions are just some of the reasons fleet managers and owners are looking to trim expenses. And while it may seem counterintuitive, now might be the best time to invest in fleet technology. 

Fleet management technologies can help control costs in several ways — from improving fuel economy to preventing crashes. In this post, we’ll talk about existing and emerging fleet tech that can lower fleet costs in 2023 and beyond.


7 Money-Saving Fleet Technologies

 

1. Active Aerodynamics

Aerodynamic drag decreases fuel economy and increases fuel costs. There are a number of devices — such as wheel covers and chassis fairings — fleets can use to reduce drag, but static devices may not capture the data fleet managers need to evaluate their overall fuel economy. 

Active aerodynamic devices like TruckWings do collect data that fleet managers need, and they can generate significant savings across large fleets. 

How they work: 

TruckWings is a software-powered device that communicates with fleet managers in real-time, using telematics (informatics + telecommunications). It installs easily in just a few hours and requires no driver input to operate. 

At driving speeds above 52 mph, the wings automatically deploy to close the gap between the tractor and trailer. Closing this gap improves fuel economy by reducing downstream turbulence, buffeting, and trailer sway. And when driving speed falls below 50 mph, the wings retract automatically, so they never interfere with low-speed maneuverability. 

Each TruckWings device trims carbon emissions by 20,000 lbs/yr per vehicle and reduces fuel consumption by 3-6% on average. TruckWings is also transferable, so fleet managers that are retiring trucks can simply remove TruckWings and attach it to newer trucks.


2. Predictive Maintenance

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck — an annual three-day inspection of commercial trucks in North America — aims to decrease truck crashes by removing faulty trucks and problematic drivers from the roads. In 2022, the CVSA placed 12,456 commercial trucks out of service for mechanical and operational problems.

These were the top violations among U.S. vehicles: 

Source

Predictive maintenance technology can prevent costly service disruptions and prevent accidents. 

How it works: 

Using telematics to monitor vehicle functions, predictive maintenance systems base service not just on mileage but on actual driving conditions and other factors. For example, trucks that routinely drive through densely populated or mountainous areas may require brake service more frequently than trucks that follow mostly flat, suburban routes. Telematics helps fleet managers customize service schedules without having to manage that process manually. 

3. Intelligent Tire Monitoring

Underinflated tires can increase fuel consumption, and overinflated tires — particularly on hot roadways — increase the risk of tire failure. Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) identify those problems and alert drivers. But drivers may be too busy to respond to alerts or relay them to fleet managers. 

Telematics-integrated TPMS can help prevent tire failure and ensure tires are optimally inflated for fuel economy

How it works: 

TPMS with telematics monitors tires for several types of faults and communicates alerts to fleet managers in real-time. That means managers can determine when and how to remedy tire problems, as well as analyze stored data to identify recurring problems. 

4. Tolling Software

For large fleets that travel nationwide, the cost of tolls can be significant. Even when using transponders or RFID tags to pay tolls automatically, fleets might be overpaying if toll companies don’t apply the correct discounts or misclassify the truck. One PrePass customer lost $15,000 in toll charges over two years because the tolling agency classified a five-axle truck as having seven axles.

Third-party tolling software can help fleets reduce toll costs, as well as prevent toll violations and misuse of transponders. 

How it works: 

This software integrates all tolling information in a single platform, which means fleet managers don’t have to monitor or reconcile toll payments across multiple agencies. The software reviews tolls for accuracy, ensures fleets receive the right discounts, and identifies misclassification of trucks. 

Occasionally, automatic toll readers don’t capture a vehicle’s information, which means that the vehicle could trigger a toll violation. Tolling software catches this error. It also provides the tolling data that fleet managers need to identify whether drivers are misusing transponders for personal use, and it reveals how the time of day and specific travel routes affect overall toll costs.  

5. Blockchain Logistics

“Blockchain” may sound complex, but it’s just a cloud-based, shared digital ledger that can’t be altered unless all users agree to the change. The permanence of blockchain entries can help trucking companies get paid faster, prevent shipment disputes, and easily monitor every step in the delivery process. 

How it works: 

Blockchain ledger entries are called “blocks,” and each block contains an embedded record of the previous block, so no party can retroactively edit information. Collaborators can also encode “smart contracts” in blockchain ledgers — such as triggering a carrier payment when the customer receives a delivery.  

While this technology could simplify logistics for fleets, we probably won’t see widespread adoption in 2023, as the Blockchain in Transportation Alliance (BITA) Standards Council is still developing standards for its use.

6. Collision Warning Systems

According to the American Transportation Research Institute, the median payout in trucking-related personal injury lawsuits was $1.75 million between 2006 and 2020. And even when a crash doesn’t cause injury, it can still be costly, in terms of vehicle damage, property damage, and higher insurance premiums. 

Investing in collision warning systems is one way to reduce the risk of crashes across a fleet. Some newer model tractors — like the Volvo VNR Series — have integrated crash avoidance technology. Collision warning systems are also available as standalone technology that connects to onboard diagnostics systems.

How they work: 

Collision warning systems use external cameras and/or LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors to detect crash hazards. When the system senses a threat, it alerts the driver with a visual cue; it may also initiate braking or guide the steering wheel.

7. Driver Monitoring

Driver monitoring can lower costs in three ways:

  1. It identifies behaviors that could lead to costly crashes.
  2. It helps fleet owners identify, reward, and retain top performers, reducing costs associated with turnover. 
  3. It captures essential driving data that could help trucking company defendants in crash-related litigation. 

How it works: 

A driver-facing camera is the most direct way to monitor driver behavior. It allows a real-time, remote view of the driver, and it can trigger actions — for example, sounding an alarm if the driver appears to be nodding off or drifting across the road. 

Monitoring systems may also use sensors in the same way a “black box” records airplane events. Should a crash occur, this technology can reveal facts like whether a driver braked before a crash. 


Reduce Fuel Costs and Emissions With TruckWings

These are just some of the fleet management technologies that can reduce costs, and we’ll likely see more companies rolling out fleet tech products in the coming years.

Investing in new tech can be a tough decision for fleet managers already concerned about costs. Proven ROI, however, might sway cautious fleet managers to adopt new technologies. 

TruckLabs is designed to perform for ten years or 1 million miles and requires minimal maintenance. We’ve also validated our product claims with extensive testing, and our customers include five of the ten largest fleets in North America. 
Trust the data. Choose TruckWings, and start lowering your fuel costs now.

Will CNG Trucks Help Fleet Owners Reduce Emissions?

Sustainability has become an important issue in the trucking industry, with many fleet owners and their customers pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years. Even as diesel fuel has become “cleaner” than ever before, diesel-powered trucks are still a top cause of harmful emissions. 

In an effort to reduce their carbon footprint — and reduce fuel costs — some fleet owners are looking at alternatives to diesel, one of which is CNG.

What Is CNG?

CNG — compressed natural gas — is a processed byproduct of fossil fuels in the ground. It’s an environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline, propane, and diesel and can power trucks with CNG-compatible engines. 

According to ACT Research’s Alternative Fuels Quarterly, in the first five months of 2021, sales of Class 8 natural gas trucks rose 19% in the U.S. and Canada compared to the same time period in 2020. 

Advantages of CNG trucks

These are some of the advantages of CNG-powered trucks:

Reduced emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions are 20% lower for CNG trucks than diesel trucks. 

Lower fuel costs

In July 2022, of eight conventional and alternative fuels, CNG had the lowest price, at $3.12 per DGE (diesel gallon equivalent). It also had the smallest April-to-July price increase.

Source

Accurate cost forecasts

CNG is abundantly available in the U.S., so it’s not subject to the price fluctuations associated with foreign oil, or major supply chain disruptions. That means fleet managers can accurately forecast fuel costs

Enhanced safety

CNG is non-toxic, and because it’s gas, it can’t contaminate groundwater or soil in the way liquid diesel can. In the event of a tank rupture, CNG quickly dissipates into the atmosphere.

Unlike diesel trucks, CNG trucks produce no noxious fumes — that’s a big benefit for sanitation workers and other people who work on or near Class 8 trucks. 

Quieter operation

CNG engines are 10 decibels quieter than diesel engines. A U.S. Department of Energy case study reported that after the New York City Department of Sanitation began using CNG trucks, workers could listen to the radio on routes, which wasn’t possible in diesel trucks. 

Incentives

The federal government offers funding and grants for municipalities and public institutions seeking to switch to CNG-powered trucks. In Indiana, the City of Portage Street and Sanitation Department replaced its garbage truck fleet with CNG trucks, thanks to the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. 

Barriers to CNG truck adoption

Despite the obvious benefits of natural gas trucks, there are some barriers to widespread usage.

Fewer fueling stations

CNG fueling stations are located mostly in densely populated areas. Depending on transit routes, some fleets may be unable to use CNG trucks. 

Source

Lack of trained technicians

CNG engines run cleaner than diesel engines, which means fleets may need fewer scheduled service appointments. But finding CNG-trained technicians and shops could be a challenge. 

Shops that service CNG engines must be CNG-approved and have fire marshal certification for proper ventilation. Only certified high-pressure technicians can work on the fuel tanks, and fuel system inspectors must have CNG-specific training.  

Cost

Businesses that don’t qualify for grants may find the cost of CNG trucks prohibitive. Conversion kits for heavy-duty vehicles start at $1,875 and don’t include the fuel tank. New Class 8 tractors cost about $170,000, compared to $120,000 for a diesel tractor. 

Technology for Better Trucking

Whether you’re switching to CNG or sticking with diesel, there are steps you can take to lower your fuel costs, fuel usage, and emissions.

TruckWings by TruckLabs is a drag-reduction device with aerodynamic panels that close the gap between tractor and trailer when speed exceeds 52 mph. The panels deploy automatically, and retract when speed drops below 50 mph. This durable, low-maintenance solution takes less than two hours to install and works for most tractors — both diesel and CNG.

Learn more about how TruckWings can help you cut costs and lower emissions, with or without CNG trucks.    

11 Effective Fuel Saving Devices for Semi Trucks

Over the last two years, fuel prices have seen a dramatic increase.

In May of 2020, gas prices reached a $1.961 per gallon low, then steadily climbed to an all-time high of $5.032 per gallon in June of 2022. Diesel prices mirrored this trend, with a low of $2.392 per gallon and a high of $5.754 during the same period.

With inflation on the rise, it wouldn’t be surprising if even higher prices are right around the corner.

What does this mean for trucking fleets? Fuel typically accounts for 60% or more of operating costs, so steep fuel prices can quickly decimate a fleet budget. The simplest way to offset high prices is to use less fuel but the question is, how?

Some fleets may consider adding EVs to their lineup, but the acquisition and operational costs typically don’t offset fuel cost savings. A more affordable approach is to purchase fuel saving devices for semi trucks, which can easily be added to existing fleet assets.

Which are the best fuel saving devices for semi trucks? These 11 semi trucks fuel saving devices can help fleets become more fuel efficient and make up for rising fuel costs.

  1. TruckWings

How it works: Did you know the gap between a truck’s cab and trailer is a fuel waster? TruckWings closes this gap to reduce drag, improve stability, and increase fuel efficiency.

The tractor-mounted device deploys automatically at speeds above 52 mph to improve aerodynamics and reduce buffeting and trailer sway in crosswinds. The device then retracts when the speed dips below 50 mph. No action is needed by the driver to deploy TruckWings — eyes stay on the road and hands stay on the wheel.

Results: Users of TruckWings see 3-6% in fuel savings. That can add up to thousands of dollars in savings per truck and millions across an entire fleet. And since TruckWings is equipped with real-time telematics, fleets can easily track their return on investment.

TruckWings outperforms even the longest side-extenders on the market, making it one of the best fuel saving devices for semi trucks. So perhaps it’s not surprising that half of the 10 largest North American fleets have used TruckWings, which have stood up across 500 million miles.

Each TruckWings device also reduces 20,000 lbs/yr in carbon emissions, or the equivalent of taking two passenger cars off roadways every year, so the sustainability gains can be huge across an entire fleet.

Ryder System, Inc. tested TruckWings across 2.7 million miles and saw a 4.1% mpg improvement.

You can too.

  1. Trailer Skirts

How they work: Trailer skirts extend along the side of the trailer, from the landing gear to the front face of the front trailer axle. The most effective trailer skirts extend as low to the ground as possible. Also called “fairing,” these devices reduce aerodynamic drag on the trailer.

Results: These fuel saving devices for semi trucks typically offer up to a 5% improvement in fuel economy.

  1. Roof Fairings

How they work: Roof fairings are similar to trailer skirts but are installed on the roof of tractor-trailers instead of along the side. These fuel saving devices for semi trucks improve aerodynamics by closing the gap when a significant height difference exists between a cab and a container.

Results: Depending on the type, roof fairings can reduce fuel use by 3-15%. However, these are not the best fuel saving devices for semi trucks pulling flatbeds because they can’t close the gap. Roof fairings would not be needed for semi trucks that can reduce drag simply by raising the tire height.

  1. Low Rolling Resistance Tires

How they work: Rolling resistance — the friction that occurs when the surface of tires meets the road — accounts for 30-33% of the total fuel cost of a modern, aerodynamic Class 8 truck. Low rolling resistance (LRR) tires lower the resistance to improve fuel economy.

Results: A 10% drop in rolling resistance equates to about a 1% improvement in fuel economy. Fleet owners should be aware that LRR tires can wear out quickly, and because most manufacturers don’t publish their rolling resistance coefficients, there can be big differences between tire options, even if they are SmartWay certified.

  1. GPS Route Planners

How they work: GPS route planners are fuel saving devices because they optimize routes to reduce the miles driven, thereby reducing fuel use.

Results: Every mile shaved off a trip saves fuel. Results of this semi truck fuel saving device will vary based on miles traveled and how efficient routes were before implementing the GPS solution.

  1. Tire Inflation Systems

How they work: Tire monitoring or tire inflation systems keep tires inflated to their proper pressure. Some systems may require a driver to inflate tires when notified pressure is low, while others may automatically inflate the tires.

Results: Proper tire inflation can improve fuel economy by 0.6% on average and up to 3%.

  1. Wheel Covers

How they work: Wheel covers improve aerodynamics by reducing drag around the wheels.

Results: Wheel cover kits can reduce fuel consumption by approximately 1% for both tractors and trailers. Combined, this equates to 2.61 gallons of fuel saved for every 1,000 miles driven.

  1. Electronic Engine Monitoring

How they work: Electronic engine monitors measure driving performance to identify fuel-wasting behavior, such as hard braking and rapid acceleration. 

Results: Results will vary for these fuel saving devices for semi trucks based on how much driving habits have improved but could have a 20-30% improvement on overall fuel efficiency.

  1. Automated Manual Transmissions

How they work: Automated manual transmissions (AMTs) have a manual gearbox, but instead of requiring the driver to shift, the clutch and gearshifts are controlled electronically to maximize engine use. AMTs monitor changing roadway conditions like road grade, acceleration, and vehicle speed, then instantly shift to the most efficient gear, saving fuel in the process.  

Results: AMTs improve fuel economy by 1% to 3%.

  1. Anti-Idle Devices

How they work: Truck drivers idle engines for good reasons: keeping the engine block warm, heating and cooling the cabin when they rest, and powering cabin appliances. But doing so consumes almost a gallon of diesel fuel per hour and constitutes nearly 8% of total fuel use. Anti-idling devices provide alternative power sources to idling for these functions.

Results: A direct-fired heater that warms the engine block and provides heat for the cabin reduces fuel use during idling by 75%. Another anti-idle device is an auxiliary power unit (APU) — a generator powered by diesel fuel or batteries to heat and cool the cabin and power appliances. Diesel APUs reduce fuel consumption by 75% or more over idling.

  1. Adaptive and Predictive Cruise Control

How they work: Adaptive cruise control enhances regular cruise control using a radar or laser sensor to sense the traffic ahead and adjust vehicle speed to maintain a safe distance. Predictive cruise control uses GPS to analyze the topography of upcoming sections of road for improved uphill and downhill driving.

Results: Cruise control, predictive cruise control, and adaptive cruise control can reduce fuel consumption by 1-10%. 


Reduce Your Fuel Costs 

When it comes to fuel saving devices for semi trucks, fleet owners have options.

If you’re ready to improve your fleet efficiency, learn more about how TruckWings can help you save up to 6% in fuel costs.

Semi Truck Emissions Regulations: What Fleet Owners Need to Know

Class 8 trucks are responsible for about a quarter of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the U.S. transportation sector. That amounts to over 400 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) emitted each year.

Diesel engines contribute to pollution by creating particulate matter, a mix of fine particles and liquid droplets that can become lodged in the lungs and irritate eyes and skin.

U.S. fleet owners and trucking companies face increasing pressure from both national and state agencies to reduce their trucking emissions footprint and keep up with changing environmental standards. Earlier this year, the Biden administration proposed stronger emissions regulations for heavy-duty vehicles, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposing that the industry cut up to 90% of NOx emissions per truck by 2031. 

Transitioning to electronic vehicles (EVs) could help combat pollution and comply with government regulations, but that’s simply not financially possible for many fleets. 

In this post, we’ll review some of the main semi-truck emissions regulations and how they’ve evolved. We’ll also look at a solution fleet owners can implement to meet these standards without transitioning the entire fleet to EV.

The Evolution of Semi Truck Emissions Standards

U.S. emission standards for heavy-duty compression ignition (CI) engines have evolved over the past 50 years. The EPA develops these regulations, with California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) setting additional standards for that state.

Here’s a brief timeline of how emissions standards have played out for heavy-duty vehicles since 1970:

1970: Congress passes The Clean Air Act, which mandates a 90% reduction in automobile emissions by 1975. That same year, President Nixon established the EPA, the agency responsible for regulating motor vehicle pollution. Per the EPA’s website:  

“New cars must meet EPA emission standards for hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (NOx). The law also directs EPA to set health-based ‘National Ambient Air Quality Standards’ for six pollutants.”

1971: The EPA officially starts testing the fuel economy of all vehicles as a precursor to informing consumers about vehicle gas mileage.

1974: The EPA begins limiting heavy-duty engine emissions of particulate matter (PM), CO2, hydrocarbons (HC), and NOx. 

1985: The EPA sets strict standards for NOx emissions from heavy-duty engines and for PM from heavy-duty diesel-powered trucks and buses. 

1990: To help trucks and buses meet 1985 emissions standards which would soon become active, the EPA sets limits on diesel fuel sulfur content. Congress amends The Clean Air Act, requiring additional reductions in emissions of HC, CO, NOx, and PM.

1997: The EPA finalizes emission standards for HC, CO, NOx, and PM.

2000: The EPA launches a national program to regulate heavy-duty vehicles and their fuel as a “single system.” 

2005: The EPA finalizes durability procedures that help manufacturers predict emission levels for certain types of new trucks and vehicles at the end of their useful lifespan.

2011: The EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) introduce regulations for improving the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

2015: The EPA and NHTSA propose greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for model years 2018-2027 medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

Dieselnet breaks down EPA and California emission standards for heavy-duty CI engines from 1974 through 2027, as follows:

Table

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EPA Proposes Tougher Emissions Rules 

As anyone in the trucking industry knows, heavy-duty trucking will likely rely on internal combustion for at least the next decade. To further curb emissions and make existing trucks cleaner, the EPA has proposed tougher emission rules for existing heavy-duty vehicles and engines. 

These rules, which would come into effect starting in 2027, aim to cut NOx emissions up to 60% by 2045. Another proposed EPA rule impacts greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles starting in 2027. 

The rules are part of the EPA’s Clean Trucks Act (CTA). Introduced in 2021, the rules set new standards for criteria pollutants in the trucking sector and update GHG emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles starting with model year 2030.

California’s regulations are even stricter, requiring new trucks, including big rigs, to achieve zero emissions by 2040. This regulation, proposed by CARB in August 2022, requires large trucking companies to convert existing fleets to zero-emission vehicles and achieve zero emissions by 2042. CARB’s Advanced Clean Truck (ACT) also requires truck manufacturers to sell 30% of their stock as EVs starting in 2024.  

These proposals mean that owners of big-rig trucks must become more aware of how their fleet contributes to pollution and what steps they can take to reduce emissions.

Cost a Major Concern for Fleet Owners

Fleet owners, truck industry groups, and owner-operators are understandably concerned about the potential costs of new and upcoming regulations. The implementation of stricter emission standards could cost manufacturers between $19 and $31 billion by 2045, though the EPA estimates net benefits of over $200 billion.

In March 2022, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear voiced the industry’s support for reducing air pollution by curbing GHG and NOx emissions as long as the regulations wouldn’t hurt “the reliability  of the trucks and trailers purchased or impose unreasonable or unworkable costs on the industry.” 

In response to concerns about high costs to fleet owners and owner-operators, the Biden Administration had already begun rolling out government subsidies via The Supporting Trucking Efficiency and Emission Reductions (STEER) Act

What is The STEER Act?

The STEER Act, formally introduced by U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis in July 2021, is a voucher program that helps cover the cost of retrofitting heavy-duty trucks with technology that reduces emissions. 

The STEER Act Coalition was formed in 2022 to further the bill’s passage. Currently, the coalition, of which TruckLabs is a member, is reaching out to legislators. Our aim is to get the STEER Act passed as a standalone bill or as part of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act — a bill that, among other measures, allocates funds to help reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.

If passed, The STEER Act’s total budget would be $500 million, spread over five years. 

Under The STEER Act, the per-unit voucher size decreases incrementally based on the size of the fleet, as follows:

  • 10 trucks or fewer: $4,000 or 75% of total cost per unit
  • 50 trucks or fewer: $3,500 or 72.5% of total cost per unit
  • 100 trucks or fewer: $3,000 or 70% of total cost per unit
  • >100 trucks: $2,500 or 67.5% of total cost per unit

In its overview of the STEER Act, the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality writes:

“This legislation aims to accelerate market penetration of active emission-reducing technologies like TruckWings for Class 8 trucks by creating a program to significantly reduce the up-front cost of purchasing and installing these technologies.”

Rather than the government picking winners on the fuel source, let’s make trucks more efficient and help reduce emissions on diesel trucks today, while at the same time enabling an electric future.”

Daniel Burrows

How Truck Wings Can Help Semi Trucks Meet Emission Standards

Class 8 truck emissions regulations are quickly becoming the new normal, and fleet owners must comply with them. 

To help fleets meet those standards, TruckLabs offers TruckWings, a retrofit aerodynamic device for Class 8 trucks. At speeds above 52 mph, the device closes the gap between the cab and trailer automatically, reducing drag, increasing fuel efficiency, and improving stability.

Here are three ways TruckLabs is helping fleets reduce emissions: 

  • TruckWings produces between 3 and 6% fuel savings or electric truck range expansion, translating into thousands of dollars saved per truck per year. 
  • Each TruckWings device reduces carbon emissions by 20,000 lbs per year. 
  • Five of the 10 largest North American fleets have collectively logged 500 million miles with TruckWings.

Learn more about how fleets are saving money and reducing emissions with TruckWings.

Sustainable Trucking Trends and Tech to Watch in 2023

Sustainability

Mitigating waste, conserving resources, and reducing pollution are not new challenges for the trucking industry. Commercial trucks comprised nearly 30% of transport emissions in 2018, making the sector one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gases in the United States. Given the increase in public awareness about the impact of climate change, sustainable trucking is now a trending topic.

The trucking industry is under increasing pressure to reduce its emissions. This pressure comes from the government and the public, but it also comes from truckers.

In a study by digital freight network Convoy, 61% of surveyed drivers said that climate change is of some or a great deal of importance. 

In this post, we’ll look at four sustainable trucking trends and technologies that could help minimize emissions.

4 Trends Driving Sustainable Trucking

With more than 300 companies signing the Climate Pledge to achieve carbon net-zero status by 2040, sustainable trucking is top of mind for many businesses.

As part of its study, Convoy surveyed dispatchers, drivers, and owner-operators from 700 SMB trucking companies. Convoy’s goal was to understand the current state of sustainability in trucking.

The findings revealed four key trends affecting sustainable trucking:

1. New (And Not So New) Government Regulations

Government regulations are the most significant driver of sustainable trucking practices.

Just over 25% of respondents in the March 2022 Convoy survey listed regulations as their top reason for reducing carbon emissions, up from 19.2% in August 2021. New environmental regulations focused on curbing emissions are currently under consideration at the national level. And state-level regulations, like the California Air Resources Board (CARB)’s zero emissions goal, are a factor driving sustainable trucking practices. 

Here are a few to keep in mind:

  • In April 2022, the federal government announced new vehicle fuel economy standards for model years 2024-2026. The measures will require an industry average of 49 mpg for new passenger cars and light trucks by 2026. The rule aims to increase fuel efficiency by 8% annually in 2024 and 2025 and 10% in 2026.
  • The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is working towards zero emissions for medium and heavy-duty fleets by 2035. The new regulation will significantly impact the transportation industry as early as 2024, with California planning to restrict fleets from deploying non-zero emission vehicles in drayage operations starting Jan.1 of that year.
  • SmartWay, an EPA program introduced in 2004, focuses on reducing emissions across the supply chain by enabling transport companies to track, document, and share fuel use and freight emissions. SmartWay partners enjoy many benefits, including help demonstrating their commitment to improving freight sustainability, and reducing CO2, NOx, and PM emissions.

2. Rising Diesel Costs

Diesel costs are high and not likely to decrease any time soon.

Three-quarters of all commercial trucks use diesel, moving nearly 70% of America’s freight tonnage. Since this likely won’t change in the next 10-20 years, trucking companies need to find ways to cut fuel consumption to reduce costs and emissions.

Nearly all of the nation’s largest tractor-trailers — class 8 trucks — are powered by diesel, and about 75% of small-to-medium-duty commercial trucks use diesel. Depending on your state, a gallon of diesel averages $5 to $6, meaning the average cost to fill the tank can range from $700 to $1,400, depending on the truck’s size.

This makes achieving maximum fuel efficiency a top priority for truckers and trucking companies.

3. More Pressure to Take Action

Awareness of climate change and public pressure are still big factors driving sustainable initiatives for many in the trucking industry.

In Convoy’s survey, 38% of respondents reported feeling pressure to reduce carbon emissions, up from 35% in 2021. Respondents cited government regulation as the top reason for feeling pressure to reduce carbon emissions, second to awareness about the environmental impact of emissions.

 

4. Efforts to Reduce Empty Miles

Convoy’s research found that 35% of truck miles are empty miles, with drivers driving, on average, between 100 and 400 miles empty.

Reducing empty miles by just 1% saves over 100 gallons of fuel. It’s why nearly 93% of respondents in the Convoy survey said reducing empty miles is moderately important, important, or very important to their business.

Empty miles have a huge environmental impact, contributing to 87 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually. But they also represent an opportunity when it comes to reducing emissions and improving sustainability in trucking.

 

Sustainable Trucking Technologies

Promising new technologies like active aerodynamics, alternative fuel vehicles, and telematics can help trucking companies reduce emissions, comply with government regulations, and save money.

We unpack all three below.

 

1. Active Aerodynamics

Active aerodynamics is a term commonly associated with improving the fuel economy of cars by reducing drag, and it can also apply to trucks.

Due to the considerable size and weight of trucks, semi-truck aerodynamics are more challenging to achieve. Recent research by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) revealed that a truck engine uses 85% of the energy it produces to overcome aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance.

To fix this, TruckWings, a tractor-mounted aerodynamic device created by TruckLabs, decreases downstream turbulence and drag. The device eliminates higher crosswind angles in the tractor-trailer gap by controlling airflow around the cab.

TruckWings works without driver interaction by extending winglets from the side of the truck based on vehicle speed and smart sensors, automatically unfolding once highway speeds reach 52 mph and retracting when speed goes below 50 mph. This can result in fuel savings of up to 4.1% — the equivalent of 20,000 pounds of CO2 per year.

2. Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs)

With diesel costs and regulations around emissions, many trucking companies are turning to alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs). AFVs include electric, hydrogen-electric, and renewable natural gas vehicles.

They emit just under 4,100 pounds of CO2 equivalent annually versus the 11,435 pounds of CO2 emitted by gas vehicles. AFVs are cost-prohibitive for many SMB trucking companies, with an up-front cost per vehicle of $200,000 to $800,000, versus $40,000 to $120,000 for the base model of a new diesel-powered semi-truck.

For this reason, equipping your existing fleet with tools to help reduce drag and improve fuel economy is a more cost-effective way to reduce emissions in the short term.  

 

3. Telematics in Trucking

Telematics is essential for many trucking companies looking to reduce emissions and improve sustainability. 

The software uses sensors, GPS technology, and other data-tracking technologies to help companies: 

  • Track their vehicles in real time
  • Optimize routes to reduce empty miles
  • Identify patterns and areas for improvement

Data collected includes:

  • Fuel consumption
  • Real-time truck location
  • Idling time

 

Sustainability Challenges in Trucking

Sustainability challenges are becoming synonymous with business challenges for truckers.

Pressure is mounting for trucking companies to prove their commitment to reducing carbon emissions and identify problematic practices within the supply chain.

Understanding how scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions impact the environment can help you make better choices for your business and the environment.

Here’s a brief breakdown of each type:

  • Scope 1: Direct emissions from company-owned or controlled sources
  • Scope 2: Indirect emissions from using electricity, heat, or steam
  • Scope 3: Other indirect emissions from the entire value chain

The best way to address Scope 3 emissions is to partner with sustainable trucking companies committed to reducing their emissions.

 

The STEER Act Can Help

US Rep. Rodney Davis introduced the Supporting Trucking Efficiency and Emission Reductions (STEER) Act in 2021.

It’s a $500 million voucher program focused on helping truckers and trucking companies retrofit their existing class 8 trucks with fuel-efficient technologies.

The STEER Act aims to help fleet owners reduce emissions and move towards more sustainable practices by incentivizing emission-reducing technologies. So even if you aren’t ready to move to AFVs, you may qualify for a voucher to cover the technology needed to retrofit your existing fleet.

 

Examples of Sustainable Trucking Companies

Here are three examples of trucking companies prioritizing sustainability, starting with Ryder System, Inc., a company that conducted a recent test of our TruckWings technology. 

 

Ryder System, Inc.

Ryder partnered with TruckLabs to conduct a 60-truck on-road test of TruckWings.

The controlled pilot fuel test assessed whether TruckWings could improve Ryder’s fuel economy and reduce the environmental impact of its fleet of over 200,000 trucks. Ryder compared the relative performance of a truck before and after installing the technology.

After evaluating the results, Ryder realized an improvement of over 4% in net mpg.

 

Werner Enterprises

Werner Enterprises is a US-based transportation and logistics company that uses technology to reduce CO2 emissions across its fleet of 8,000 trucks and 24,000 trailers.

Werner uses automated manual transmissions to boost fuel economy by 1-3%, predictive maintenance to monitor performance and keep trucks at maximum efficiency, and GPS trailer tracking to increase hauling efficiency. They’ve also begun piloting solar panels on their trucks to help extend battery life and reduce jump-starts.

 

DHL Express

DHL Express, headquartered in Germany, wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to below 29 million tons by 2030.

They aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. In addition to addressing Scope 3 emissions by auditing service providers along the supply chain, the company has begun retrofitting its fleet of medium- and heavy-duty trucks with solar panel mats that regulate the transfer of energy from the alternator to the battery.

The mats, expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for each vehicle by 2,000 pounds annually, also have sensors that collect data on fuel and emissions.

 

A Pathway to Sustainability

Sustainable trucking leaders show that there are many ways to reduce your emissions.

From active aerodynamics to solar panels to ATVs, the options to reduce your carbon footprint are numerous. As government, consumer, and industry awareness about the industry’s impact on climate change grows, so will the pressure on trucking companies to mitigate their emissions.

Products like TruckWings can help your company take the first steps towards reducing emissions and fuel costs. The companies that don’t begin to invest in more environmentally-friendly technologies will fall behind as the industry moves towards a more sustainable future.

5 Practical Ways to Reduce Fleet Emissions

In the face of new regulations, pressure is mounting to reduce fleet emissions.

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting requirements have placed a renewed focus on emission management strategies for fleet owners looking for ways to lessen their vehicles’ impact on the environment. While transitioning to electric vehicles (EV) may be a desirable long-term goal, it’s not always practical or realistic for fleets operating in the current market.

However, fleet owners can take steps to reduce emissions on Class 8 vehicles, improve Scope 3 carbon emissions for its customers, and build a competitive advantage.

Fleet Emissions and the STEER Act

New legislation has emerged to help equip fleets with technology that will help reduce emissions.

The Supporting Trucking Efficiency and Emission Reductions (STEER) Act, introduced in the U.S. House in July 2021, is designed to reduce emissions by incentivizing truck companies to buy and install fuel-efficient technologies on Class 8 trucks.

Under the STEER Act, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) would provide $500 million over five years for vouchers to cover the expense. A draft of the legislation states that the voucher amounts for each technology included in the bill will cover the lesser of:

  • $4,000 or 75% of costs per unit for fleets operating 10 trucks or fewer.
  • $3,500 or 72.5% of costs per unit for fleets operating 50 trucks or fewer.
  • $3,000 or 70% of costs per unit for fleets operating 100 trucks or fewer.
  • $2,500 or 67.5% of costs per unit for fleets operating more than 100 trucks.

5 Ways to Reduce Fleet Emissions

Going electric is one way to reduce emissions.

But the truth is that transitioning to EVs is not realistic for most fleets in the near term.

Adding EVs to a fleet requires a substantial investment. Electric Class 8s cost $400,000 to $600,000, compared to about $150,000 for conventional diesel trucks.

About $220,000 of that expense is for the electric powertrain alone. Another added expense is the need for electric vehicle infrastructure, such as charging stations, which cost about $20,000 each.

There are also concerns that if drivers have to stop every 150 to 250 miles to charge their trucks, driver shortages will increase. This is why it’s important to consider using technologies that improve fuel efficiency and lower emissions in existing vehicles.

Fortunately, there are five other ways to reduce emissions that are more practical and realistic for most fleets in the short term.

  1. Improve Truck Aerodynamics

Improving aerodynamics is one of the most effective ways to reduce fuel consumption and emissions both today and into the future with EVs.

Aerodynamic drag accounts for over half of a truck’s fuel consumption at highway speeds. The good news is that using multiple aerodynamic devices to reduce drag can save the trucking industry about $10 billion in diesel fuel expenses.

These devices include:

  • Roof fairings to minimize the turbulence created by the cab.
  • Wheel covers that allow air to flow past the tires.
  • Active aerodynamics devices that automatically adjust to the changing aerodynamic needs.

One example of an active aerodynamic device for Class 8 tractors is TruckWings, a device that automatically closes the gap between the cab and trailer. TruckWings automatically deploy when speed exceeds 52 mph and retracts when speed is below 50 mph.

This means drivers don’t need to take their eyes off the road or their hands off the wheel.

Here are some of TruckWings’ proven benefits:

  • Improves driver experience: Fully-automated TruckWings improve stability, especially in crosswinds, and don’t require driver interaction.
  • Helps fleet owners meet ESG goals: Each TruckWing reduces 20,000 lbs/yr in carbon emissions.
  • Offers durability with minimal maintenance: Aerospace-grade aluminum has proven durability of almost half a billion miles driven and outperforms side extenders.
  • Provides real-time data: A cloud-connected telematics device features customer dashboards for 100% transparency.
  • Reduces fuel costs: TruckWings has shown proven savings of 3-6% mpg, resulting in millions of dollars saved per fleet.

Ryder System, Inc. and TruckLabs worked together to test the fuel efficiency of TruckWings. Get the results here.

  1. Invest in Telematics

The technology of communicating, collecting, and storing information via telecommunication devices is known as telematics.

In trucking, telematics monitors engine diagnostics and the hours a vehicle runs. This helps fleet managers keep track of all vehicle updates and required maintenance.

  1. Optimize Trucking Routes

An efficient routing plan can help reduce fuel consumption, emissions, and costs.

GPS technology has advanced, allowing for quicker travel and fewer stops, resulting in a 30% reduction in carbon emissions during each trip.

  1. Monitor and Improve Driver Habits

The most common cause of fuel waste is driver behavior.

Teaching and encouraging proper driving habits can result in a significant reduction in fuel consumption. Aggressive drivers who accelerate and brake rapidly use up to 30% more fuel.

Additionally, a tractor-trailer uses 20% less energy to move at 55 mph than 62 mph. And an idling diesel vehicle uses half a gallon of fuel an hour.

Cutting idling can save up to 5% of fuel costs, amounting to thousands of dollars in savings per year.

  1. Upgrade to Newer Vehicles

Older vehicles are less fuel-efficient than newer models, so upgrading your fleet can reduce emissions and fuel consumption.

A recent report from Fleet Advantage shows upgrading to a 2021 model from a 2016 model would reduce CO2 by 21 metric tons, resulting in $16,856 in savings per truck.

Reduce Your Fleet Emissions

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to reducing fleet emissions, but these five steps are a good place to start.

You can make a significant impact on your fleet’s carbon footprint by making even small modifications. And as electric vehicles become more prevalent, now is the time to start planning for the future.

A Quick Guide to Improving Tractor Trailer Aerodynamics

semi truck aerodynamics

Did you know that improving trailer aerodynamics can significantly impact drag and fuel efficiency?

Aerodynamic drag is responsible for 65% of the energy used while pulling a trailer. That’s why more fleets are turning to products like trailer aerodynamic products to help reduce drag and save money on fuel costs.

But what are trailer aerodynamics, exactly?

And which product is right for your fleet?

Answering these questions requires understanding the effects of aerodynamic drag on tractor-trailers and the different types of products available to reduce it.

What Are Trailer Aerodynamics?

Trailer aerodynamics refers to the study of how air flows around and over a trailer.

When a truck moves, air resistance (or drag) slows it down and uses up fuel. Reducing drag can lower fuel consumption by up to 12%. This would save more than $10 billion in diesel fuel per year.

The Main Points of Drag on Tractor Trailers

To understand how to reduce drag, it’s essential to know where it comes from.

There are three main points of drag on tractor-trailers:

  • Back of the trailer near the doors: When air circulates around a trailer, it forms a vortex behind the rear door, causing a significant decrease in air pressure.

Addressing these areas can significantly improve trailer aerodynamics.

Airflow Simulation

Products and Devices to Reduce Tractor-Trailer Drag

Aerodynamic devices are effective at reducing drag and improving fuel efficiency.

And the faster the speed, the more efficient they become. Many products and devices on the market can help reduce drag.

  • Trailer fairings: The trailer fairings (or skirts) keep the wind from blowing under the trailer and into the bogie. They work best when they start from the landing gear and end at the front face of the front trailer axle, close to the ground.
  • Wheel covers and mud flaps: Wheel covers are devices inserted into the wheel that help direct airflow around the tires. Mudflaps are installed behind the wheels and help deflect air away from the undercarriage.

When choosing an aerodynamic device, it’s important to remember that many will complement each other. For example, using trailer tails with wheel covers further reduces drag.

Of course, fleet owners must consider the unique needs of their operation when choosing products.

Trailers Are Only Part of the Equation

While trailer aerodynamics are important, they account for only some of the drag that impacts fuel efficiency.

The front tractor section also accounts for a significant amount of drag (about 25%). To address this, some truck manufacturers are exploring a more aerodynamic design for the front of the truck.

Some solutions include adding pedestal door mirrors and sloped-front windshields.

The gap between the cab and trailer also accounts for about 25% of the overall drag. High-speed air rushing in causes a low-pressure area which then drags on the tractor and decreases fuel economy.

Closing the gap would result in a decrease in airspeed and less turbulence downstream. Increased pressure at the back of the cab would decrease overall drag, especially where crosswinds are strong.

For fleet owners, this could mean a significant decrease in fuel consumption and savings amounting to millions of dollars each year.

Learn how Ryder Systems saved 4.1% on fuel with TruckWings.

Improve Trailer Aerodynamics and Fuel Efficiency

Cutting emissions and fuel costs is a high priority for trucking fleets.

That’s why many fleet owners are investing in trailer aerodynamic devices.

There are two types of trailer aerodynamic devices:

  • Hardware-only devices that require driver interaction.
  • Smart products that are automated and require no driver interaction.

TruckWings and TrailerTails are two devices that are sometimes confused, but there are key differences between them. TrailerTail (discontinued) was a hardware-only device installed on the back of the trailer that required the driver to close it manually. TruckWings is the only fully automated, tractor-mounted device that works without interaction, allowing for the best driver experience.

By automatically closing the gap between the cab and trailer, the device:

  • Improves stability
  • Increases fuel efficiency
  • Reduces drag

TruckWings also:

  • Operates in two positions — closed when the truck travels fast on an open highway and open when going slow or making turns
  • Uses smart sensors to track carbon and fuel savings
  • Provides uptime reporting

If you want to improve fuel efficiency, contact us to learn more about TruckWings.

FAQ

How do I reduce drag on my truck trailer?

There are several ways to reduce drag on your trailer, including:

  • Adding trailer fairings (or trailer skirts) to keep the wind from blowing under the trailer and into the bogie.
  • Installing mudflaps and wheel covers to help direct airflow around the tires.
  • Adding a trailer tail to alter the airflow as it leaves the trailing edge of a truck’s side and top surfaces.

Why do truck trailers have wings?

Wings help keep the trailer more stable and improve fuel economy.

Do truck wings work?

Yes, they are an effective way to reduce drag and fuel costs. In fact, TruckWings provides potential fuel savings of 3-6% mpg with 12-18 months ROI resulting in millions of dollars saved per fleet.

Learn how Ryder Systems saved 4.1% on fuel with TruckWings.

Scope 3 Emissions: What You Need to Know in 2022

emissions

Companies are under increased pressure to monitor, control, and reduce their carbon emissions — and that pressure is set to continue. There are a number of ways to make key changes, from simple fuel emissions reductions to identifying problematic hot spots across operations. Tackling Scope 3 emissions opens an additional opportunity to uncover ways to lower overall environmental impact and adopt climate-friendly operations and policies.


What are Scope 3 Emissions?

Most global and public companies report and account for their carbon emissions, especially those generated from direct operations. But more and more operations leaders are honing in on Scope 3 emissions as a new area of demand and opportunity as regulatory pressures mount. In fact, many companies who gain a foothold in monitoring, managing, and reporting Scope 3 emissions are finding themselves at a competitive advantage.

Scope 3 emissions cover a broad range of activities and areas, including supplier activity and employee transportation, that a company can impact indirectly. Scope 3 emissions can be produced by purchased goods and services, capital goods, waste generated in operations, and even leased assets.

From favoring sustainable suppliers to curbing business travel, managing Scope 3 emissions provides an additional way to gain ground on a company’s overall sustainability goals.

U.S. companies are mandated to step up their efforts to reduce carbon footprints according to the Paris Agreement, which 189 countries signed onto. The agreement stipulates that countries and leaders worldwide must work to reduce emissions by approximately 45% by 2030 from 2010 levels.

Tracking Scope 3 emissions can offer a way to reduce overall emissions more proactively and thoroughly as more companies build emissions reductions into their net-zero and business strategies.

Scope 1, 2, and 3 Emissions: What’s the Difference?

Source: https://pba.umich.edu/scopes-of-carbon-emissions-explained/

Global Green House Gas (GHG) protocols break emissions into three “scopes” or classifications.

Scope 1 emissions
Scope 1 emissions are direct emissions generated from owned or controlled sources, including fleet fuel use and so-called fugitive emissions, or leaks and irregular releases from storage tanks, appliances, wells, or other pieces of equipment, for example.

Scope 2 emissions
Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy, including from cooling systems, electricity, heating, and steam.

Scope 3 emissions
Scope 3 emissions are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly impacts. These include both upstream and downstream emissions that are linked to the company’s operations. Scope 3 emissions fall into 15 categories, though not all may be relevant. These emissions could include those produced by business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal, or the emissions generated by purchased goods and services or transportation and distribution.

The Challenge with Scope 3 Emissions

While chasing down Scope 3 emissions and cutting them back presents an entire frontier of emissions-reducing tactics, companies are finding major challenges with locating the sources and determining how to reduce them.

That’s because Scope 3 emissions often are outside of a company’s direct management or ownership and are hard to assess. Adding to the mix of challenges, these emissions types might also be occurring across several different companies, sometimes making it hard to determine who is responsible for making cuts.

Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions are easier to track, measure and control. Meanwhile, down the supply chain, tracking and coordinating the reduction of emissions from privately-owned businesses, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), may present challenges.

But businesses are undoubtedly running out of time to reduce carbon footprints as consumer purchasing behavior shifts in favor of sustainable practices, more suppliers embrace lowering emissions amid global policy trends, and stakeholders grow impatient for better, more complete reporting from all levels of operations.

Primary Scope 3 Emission Factors

Complications aside, Scope 3 emissions come from areas that are traceable and definable, including downstream and upstream sources.

Upstream
Upstream emissions sources include areas within the direct control of the company, and closer to systems and departments that can track, analyze data, and act. Upstream sources include:

  • Waste Generation: Waste sent to landfills and wastewater treatment facilities, for example.
  • Purchased Goods & Services: Extraction, production, and transportation of goods and services purchased or acquired by the company. Includes so-called “Cradle to Gate” emissions associated with the production of goods and services.
  • Transportation & Distribution: Emissions from transportation by land, sea, and air and related to third-party warehousing. The life cycle emissions are associated with manufacturing vehicles, facilities, or infrastructure, and can account for nearly a quarter of all Scope 3 emissions.
  • Fuel and Energy-Related Activities: Emissions of purchased fuels and emissions of purchased electricity are not included in Scope 1 or Scope 2. Generation of purchased electricity that is sold to end users
  • Capital Goods: Final products with an extended life, such as vehicles, buildings, and machinery, that are used by the company to manufacture a product

Downstream
Downstream emissions are sourced from areas where companies can insert their interests. Downstream categories include:

  • Use of Sold Products: End use of goods and services sold by the reporting company
  • Downstream Transportation and Distribution: Transportation and distribution of products sold between the reporting company’s operations and the end consumer
  • Investments: These can include equity investments, debt investments, project finance, managed investments, and client services
  • Franchises: Owners of franchises report the emissions created by their franchise operations and franchisees report emissions upstream
  • End-of-Life Treatment of Sold Products: Products sold to consumers that are “in use” are tracked for emissions related to product usage and disposal.

Why Measure Scope 3 Emissions?

Taking on Scope 3 emissions opens the door for businesses not only to improve their carbon impact but to attract investment and foster better innovation and collaboration with suppliers.

A business that goes after its indirect emissions achieves multiple benefits, including notching down risk within its own value chain, reassuring shareholders who are ratcheting up the pressure on companies in lockstep with mounting policy and consumer demand, and creating new opportunities with businesses, customers, and stakeholders.

As the importance of Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) gains momentum, there is growing awareness in the investment community that companies reporting and reducing all levels of carbon emissions can make for better investments. How a company tracks and mitigates its carbon emissions can have a significant impact on its profitability, risk and resilience and that has led to increased pressure to require companies to disclose more emissions information.

Aside from the appealing global impact of increased carbon reporting, consumers are increasingly demanding products and services with sound sustainability practices and standards. That means companies stand to improve bottom lines by pursuing scope emissions reductions andScope 3 emissions are the next bucket of opportunity.

Setting a focus around Scope 3 emissions also specifically ties companies more closely to their suppliers. Companies tracking Scope 3 also pay more attention to their customer’s behaviors and tracking emissions has the added benefit of uncovering additional operational cost-savings measures.

Benefits of Measuring and Reporting on Scope 3

Companies that measure and report on Scope 3 emissions tend to evaluate their overall business performance more effectively, focus on generating value from their emissions strategies, and create demonstrable impact from their emissions reductions.

Pursuing Scope 3 emissions can help companies not only further reduce their emissions but improve overall operations and performance. Added values from tracking Scope 3 can include:

  • Exposing emissions “hotspots” within a supply chain
  • Improved transparency, customer trust, brand, and reputational enhancement
  • Locating supplies that are leading in sustainability performance
  • Finding cost reduction opportunities
  • Helping suppliers bring sustainability initiatives up to new standards
  • Improving the overall sustainability rating of their products and services
  • Positive engagement with employees and consumers

Each of those benefits not only lowers a company’s overall carbon output but presents additional ways for a company to power up overall performance and improve its financial position.

6 Steps to Reduce Scope 3 Emissions

Taking steps to cut back on Scope 3 emissions can range from simple to complex. Here are some steps to get started.

  1. Determine which Scope 3 categories are relevant by taking a look at GHG protocols
  2. Collect source data from suppliers and partners for emissions related to products and services you’ve purchased
  3. Audit the supply chain to find where the greatest levels of indirect emissions may be occurring and determine if these areas can be improved
  4. Establish a single source of truth, finding a technology solution that streamlines data
  5. Take a closer look at suppliers and uncover which are focused on their own scope 3 emissions already. Find out if they are open to collaborating.
  6. Create an easy, employee-friendly approach to reducing emissions stemming from business travel and commuting.

Finding Pathways and Partners

Finding ways to reduce carbon emissions has fast become a key component of business strategy and sustainability practice among global and public companies. Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions categories provide a roadmap for specific tactics, developments, and activities companies can engage in to significantly lower their carbon impact.

Companies can create measurable impacts from relatively simple adjustments, such as lowering fuel emissions from their fleet or asking logistics partners to track and reduce their emissions. Products like TruckWings can be used to retrofit an entire trucking fleet or applied to new builds, delivering instant results. TruckWings is a tractor-mounted aerodynamic device that automatically closes the gap between cab and trailer, reducing drag, improving stability and increasing fuel efficiency, lowering emissions, and delivering 4-6% fuel savings.

What Fleet Owners Need to Know about ESG Reporting

The SEC’s new climate disclosure rule, proposed in March 2022, has paved the way for the broadest federally mandated corporate ESG data disclosure requirement ever. The rule would require public companies to provide certain climate-related financial data, and greenhouse gas emissions insights, in public disclosure filings. That has put pressure on a host of industries, including transportation, to seek faster ways to reduce emissions as investors, shippers and consumers demand more ESG reporting and greater sustainability measures.

Pressure Mounts to Lower Emissions, Report Results

Companies have stepped up their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting, or sustainability reporting, as global climate change measures have increased the demand for industries to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 

Companies deemed more socially responsible are now far more appealing to investors and consumers. In response to the global cry for serious climate change response, more than 300 businesses have taken the Climate Pledge, including those in the transportation industry, to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 across its operations. That’s a decade ahead of the Paris Agreement, which requires countries to reduce emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

In the United States, the transportation industry stands as one of the leading contributors of air pollution. Carbon dioxide (CO2) creates the vast majority of GHG emissions and major sources of CO2 include fossil fuel combustion. In fact, although freight trucks make up only 10 percent of the vehicles on the road, they produce 25 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Now trucking fleet operators are feeling the pressure to produce ESG reports, especially data around emissions, and work more quickly to lower emissions and reduce their carbon footprint.

So, What is ESG Reporting Again?

ESG impacts represent a fairly broad umbrella of activities, and fleet operators are already doing many things that qualify, including using alternative fuels, running newer, lower-emission trucks, using products and technology solutions that create better freight efficiency, and even using energy-saving and recycling efforts at trucking facilities.

Trucking companies also are monitoring their social impact, which takes into account people and culture. Employee engagement initiatives and better standards for drivers fall into this category, along with monitoring labor standards among suppliers, data protection and privacy, and gender and diversity.

Good governance practices ensure transparency in operations and cover the procedures that help fleet owners stay ahead of violations, adopt sound internal systems of control, and maintain strong leadership.

ESG reporting makes public or available a list of Environmental, Social and Governance activities a transportation company is engaged in, and the impact those activites have had on reducing emissions. Socially responsible investors, shippers, and even consumers may use that data to make business, capital and purchasing decisions.

There is currently no law that mandates ESG disclosure for non-listed companies, but expectations have been raised for fleet operators and there are many ways to track ESG impacts. The three so-called pillars of ESG focus on people, process, and product.

Walmart Canada is offering carbon-neutral last mile delivery for e-commerce purchases. Ikea, which handles two million shipments a year, has set a goal to be climate positive by 2030 and has deployed transportation management systems to reduce trucking emissions. The retail giant has produced high-level reports describing activities related to its climate journey.

Trucking fleet operators also have Scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions they can report and, by far, emissions controls and reductions remain the trucking industry’s largest focus when it comes to ESG reporting.

As Easy as Scope 1, 2 and 3

Source: https://pba.umich.edu/scopes-of-carbon-emissions-explained/

Tracking scope emissions opens ways to lower overall environmental impact and improve the bottom line.

Scope 1 emissions cover direct emissions generated from owned or controlled sources, including fleet fuel use.

Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy, including from cooling systems, electricity, heating, and steam. Scope 3 emissions are the result of activities from assets not owned or controlled by the reporting organization, but that the organization indirectly impacts.

Scope 3 emissions could include those produced by business travel, employee commuting, waste disposal or the emissions generated by purchased goods and services or transportation and distribution.

Reporting results of emissions-reducing activities can be a part of good ESG reporting.

It’s Electric – The Promise of EV Looms, But What About Now?

Trucking industry leaders agree that trucks of all sizes are ready for electrification, but large-scale fleet conversions to EVs across the transportation industry are still years away. With trucking accounting for a quarter of all U.S. carbon emissions, the move to zero-emission vehicles will deliver tremendous benefits.

But other new technologies, products, and practices can assist the trucking industry directly with reducing carbon emissions in the meantime and produce a measurable impact right away. Here are some of those go-to resources:

  • Aerodynamics: Products like TruckWings can significantly increase fuel efficiency. The tractor-mounted aerodynamic device automatically closes the gap between cab and the trailer, reducing drag. Use of the device can mean 3-6% fuel savings which can lead to millions of dollars in savings per fleet. TruckWings is the only fully automated aerodynamic device that works without driver interaction.
  • Tracking Vendors: Make sure vendors and suppliers are jumping on board with their emission-reducing practices. Do business with companies and partners that are actively shrinking their carbon footprint.
  • Alternative Fuels: Alternative fuels which have the potential to be used in trucking include biodiesel, gasoline, electric trucks, natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cells.

How to Get Started on ESG Reporting

Even if you don’t need an official ESG report for investors yet, it is a good idea to develop some sort of documentation, maybe even a website page, to show your ESG activities. Here are four quick tips to consider:

  1. Have an ESG Strategy – Develop a sustainability strategy and set short-term and long-term goals. Work with different departments to gather input and buy-in on the strategy.
  2. Decide on a Reporting Framework – There are still no right or wrong ways to produce ESG reports, but determine how you will consistently track, collect and report ESG activities and use a consistent framework. Consider who will be viewing the reports and what information they will most need.
  3. Reliability and Transparency – Decide on which activities you will report and ensure that consistent, reliable data can be collected. All ESG activities should be transparent both internally and to vendors and partners. Include activities that can be reliably measured.
  4. Watch Competitors – Pay attention to how your competitors are tracking and reporting ESG and tear a page from their playbook, or make sure your reporting is at industry standard.

ESG Reporting Delivers On-Time Benefits

Despite the pressure fleet owners and operators are feeling about carbon emission reduction and reporting, there are simple ways to demonstrate sustainability and get started now with improved practices and policies.

Driving forward with an ESG strategy can not only place your company in a better light with investors, partners, and customers, but also deliver significant cost savings. Fuel efficiency solutions lower costs and can even improve driver comfort.

As climate change measures increase globally and the carbon footprint of the transportation industry draws greater scrutiny, the promise of change can be a benefit for all.

Top Ten Ways to Improve Semi-Truck Fuel Efficiency

New semi-truck emissions regulations, along with higher fuel costs, have trucking fleet operators looking harder for additional ways to gain fuel efficiency. 

Record costs for fleets have come in the form of driver pay increases and a jump in repair and maintenance costs, but nothing has been more costly than the rising price of diesel. The American Transportation Research Institute reports that fleet operators saw a more than 35 percent increase in fuel prices last year, bringing per-mile trucking costs to their highest levels on record.

Now the Biden administration has proposed new emissions regulations that put the transportation industry at the center of attention, with goals to speed up the path to zero-emission semi-trucks and stringent new standards to reduce pollution.

But, there are many ways to increase fuel efficiency and reduce fuel costs, including quick and easy options that bring immediate results.

Semi-Truck MPGs at a Glance

Most semi-trucks have one or two fuel tanks that hold up to around 300 gallons of gas combined.

On average, semi-trucks get anywhere from 5.6 miles per gallon (mpg) to about 6.5 mpg. That fuel efficiency can range more widely when trucks are climbing steep uphill grades, which can push fuel efficiency down to 3 mpg, or coasting downhill when fuel efficiency can top 23 mpg. On a long route, fuel is consumed quickly and refueling is always top of mind for drivers.

In the last year, diesel fuel prices have spiked dramatically. Filling up used to cost around $300 to $400, but it can now cost over $1,000 to fill up the same Class 8 truck. Earlier this year the price of diesel fuel jumped by more than $1.50 per gallon in roughly two months, surpassing $6 per gallon in some markets. Since last year, truck fleets’ fuel spending has increased by around 25 percent to 30 percent. According to the American Trucking Associations, semi-trucks burn about 36.5 billion gallons of diesel annually.

New Standards for GHG Emissions Loom

In March of 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule to set stricter pollution and emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles, including semi-trucks. The proposed new standards come as President Biden’s new Inflation Reduction Act becomes law. Hailed as the country’s most ambitious climate change legislation ever, the Act takes aim at greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), proposing to reduce them by about 40 percent by 2030.

The new emissions standards go after smog and soot-forming emissions from heavy-duty gasoline and diesel engines and would place new rules on commercial vehicles. Biden’s Act works more quickly towards zero-emission trucks and buses. Last year the EPA said it wanted about 1.5 percent of new truck sales to be zero emission by 2027, but vehicle and truck manufacturers are jumping on loftier goals. Daimler, for example, says up to 60 percent of its sales will be zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2030. Volvo Group says its going for 100 percent zero-emissions truck sales by 2040.

These new rules and goals are putting pressure on truck fleet operators already dealing with fuel costs and driver shortages. Gaining better fuel efficiency can significantly drive down costs in the face of those pressures.

Best Ways to Gain Fuel Efficiency

From simple and immediate, to long-term and lucrative, there are many ways to get better gas mileage in a truck. Here are ten top ways to gain fuel efficiency.

  1. Use Cruise Control – Inconsistent speed can be a common cause of poor mileage. Using cruise control regulates speed and creates more efficiency.
  2. Avoid Idling – Idling is a waste of gas. Find easy ways to stop idling, including using truck stop showers while waiting in line.
  3. Keep Up on Maintenance – Make sure trucks receive regular maintenance checks as recommended by the manufacturer. Consider using a lower-viscosity oil.
  4. Improve Truck Aerodynamics – There are a number of products on the market that can improve truck aerodynamics and significantly reduce fuel costs, including TruckWings, which close the gap between the cab and trailer to reduce drag. Other aerodynamic devices include wheel covers, roof farings and side extenders.
  5. Plan Ahead – Pre-plan your trip to avoid unnecessary stops and use the latest GPS equipment to keep routes accurate.
  6. Lighten the Load – Reduce excess weight by removing unnecessary cargo or equipment. Every extra pound counts.
  7. Don’t Speed – Drive at the posted speed limit or slightly below. This cuts down on wind resistance which, in turn, cuts down on fuel consumption.
  8. Easy on the Brakes – Use momentum to your advantage and avoid sudden accelerations and excessive braking, which increase fuel consumption.
  9. Use Low-Rolling Tires – Low-rolling resistance tires made for trucks require less energy to move and can cut down on fuel use.
  10. Minimize AC Use – When and where possible, cut back on how much the AC is used. Air conditioning can be another drag on fuel use.

Get Started Today

Pressure from rising fuel prices and driver shortages, along with new legislation aimed at reducing emissions produced by trucks, is giving fleet owners and operators a lot to think about. But easy solutions and smart steps can make a big difference almost immediately. Using fuel efficiency measures can add up quickly and provide relief.

TruckWings can help fleets reduce drag and cut fuel costs by 3% to 6% annually, which can be thousands of dollars in savings per truck, leading to millions of dollars per fleet.

TruckWings is the only fully automated aerodynamic device that works without driver interaction. Drivers can count on it to deploy when speed goes above 52mph, and retract when speed goes below 50mph. So there’s no need to take their eyes off their driving or their hands off the wheel. Closing the gap reduces buffeting and trailer sway in cross-winds outperforming even the longest side-extenders on the market today.

Give us a call today to find out more about quick installation.