Tag Archive for Telematics for the Planet

Reaching out to Resource Industries to Reduce and Save

BCRoadbuilders

Andrew Paul, VP of Commercial Sales at Webtech Wireless, attended the BC Road Builders’ Annual Fall Conference in Kelowna, British Columbia this week and, apart from a few rounds of golf, came away with a renewed respect for the concerns of the transportation sector in the Interior of BC. Nestled between the Pacific Coast Mountains and the Rockies and stretching from Washington State to the Alaska/Yukon border, the Interior may be few in people, but it’s plenty in natural resources and keeping its primary industries (logging, mining, oil and gas exploration) clean includes the trucks and heavy equipment that service the region. The statistics support this need: while overall Canadian transportation accounts for 27 percent of all carbon emissions, in BC the amount is much higher at 37 percent.

Andrew mentioned his meeting with Scott Everall of the Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative (COAC). The COAC is a non-profit organization that promotes its Fuel Efficiency and Carbon Reduction Initiative to owners of heavy diesel burning equipment, and long and short haul trucks. Its aim is to help trucking companies reduce their carbon footprint by providing monitoring and reporting their fuel consumption.

I caught up with Scott to find out how greening a trucking fleet can save fleet managers money. Talking green to business owners in northern British Columbia can be a hard sell. “Imagine yourself visiting a trucking company that’s in the business of cutting down trees, and you go in there to chat them up about making their business more environmentally friendly”, said Scott. Then with humor, “the look they give me is like, ‘are you going to give me a hug now?’ But my position is to describe how monitoring carbon emissions can reduce fuel costs by 10 percent”, he says adding, “Even a one percent reduction annually can add up to $300,000 in savings over our suggested three-year monitoring period. That, they listen to.”

Scott mentioned that many trucking companies have the willingness to change, but they may not have the manpower to manage the administration of carbon monitoring, “so that’s where we come in”, said Scott. “We help them reduce their operating costs by help them monitoring, reporting, and finally trading or selling carbon offsets”, he said.

“If using a system like what Webtech Wireless has, they’d be able to save money while reducing carbon emissions”, Scott said.  Scott’s attitude is, “As we become more aware of the impact of greenhouse gas emissions, the Carbon Offset Aggregation Cooperative program will play an increasing role in helping the transportation and resource sectors reduce emissions, increase fuel efficiency and create a safer working environment”.

What Impact Does the Climate Action Plan have on the Transportation Sector?

What Impact Does the Climate Action Plan have on the Transportation Sector
Image courtesy White House blog

There isn’t a person in the transportation sector who doesn’t want to see a brighter future for his or her families and loved ones, but how much will the new US Climate Change Action Plan unveiled this month affect the livelihoods or workers in this sector?

In a speech delivered this month at Georgetown University, President Obama described his Climate Action Plan:

  • Reduce carbon emissions;
  • Prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change;
  • Lead international efforts to fight climate change and prepare for its impacts.

According to the Plan, “Heavy-duty vehicles are currently the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions within the transportation sector.”

21CentureTransportationSector
Image courtesy The President’s Climate Action Plan, 2013

Telematics for the Planet®

We can help you today achieve the twin goals of reduced emissions and increased savings, like we have for these customers:

Reduce Waste

Webtech Wireless Telematics for the Planet provides a way for you to structure vehicle certification around measurable parameters based on organizational targets or environmental standards. Working with agencies such as Cascade Sierra, the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach replaced many of their older drayage vehicles (renowned for their pollution) and, using our Quadrant solution to measure idling, dramatically reduced the amount of idle time. As of 2010, there was 50% less elemental carbon—an indicator of diesel particulate matter. Cascade Sierra Solutions uses US government loans and grants to help fleet managers improve their fleet performance.

Idling Controls – Lower idling times by up to 90%. Long-haul trucks can save $8,000 per truck per year (averaging 1,800 hours idling per year)

Improve Use

CalVans relies on some of its capital and operating funding from federal investment through grants. With Webtech Wireless reporting, CalVans is able to provide a cleaner alternative to commuter driving through vanpooling over single-car commuting.  Through Webtech Wireless MDTs, CalVans is able to provide detailed reports that show the distance traveled, time durations of rides, and the number of riders (one of the key metrics to show how much vanpools reduce single-occupant vehicles on municipal roadways).

Speed Limits – Reduce fuel use, saving you money, and CO2—and improve safety—by monitoring excessive speeds.

For the transportation sector, the future is clear: the key to growth is fuel efficiency. People want it; the government wants it; and (if the mounting evidence of climate change is taken as an indicator), the planet wants it too.

Leaner, Greener Operations Saves Costs for Fleets

It may be a while before our roads witness emission-free trucking fleets running on solar and battery power. In the meantime, fleet managers are discovering that if they take steps to green their fleet by implementing telematics and automated vehicle location (AVL) solutions, they’ll not only reduce carbon emissions, but they’ll also save a lot of money.

Here are some snapshots of how different companies are saving both the environment around them and fuel wastage:

The City of Columbia, Missouri is reducing operating costs by letting fleet managers monitor idling, speeding, harsh braking, sharp acceleration and engine over-revving. This helps their drivers develop long-term best practices to decrease fuel consumption significantly and thereby reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

“Our director instructed us not to let the drivers sit in trucks with air conditioners running. Now we know our trucks are not running up and down the road as much. Drivers are where they are supposed to be and working where they are supposed to be—at all times—so it makes it a lot easier for us to track.”

— Sam Thomas, City of Columbia Street Superintendent

Cascade Sierra Solutions is committed to helping trucking companies green their fleets and one way their doing it is by helping them navigate their way through applying for grants and loans to purchase energy-efficient newer trucks. Newer vehicles are more efficient and those savings mean they can expect a quick return on their investment

Loans are available, and a number of public agencies, such as the Port of Tacoma and agencies in California, provide grants to help truckers upgrade. Cascade Sierra Solutions. “We help them with all the paperwork,” Banks said, “and it can be a lot of paperwork the average guy doesn’t have the skill set to fill out.”

“Truckers doing their part for the environment with the help of Cascade Sierra Solutions!”

—Cascade Sierra Solutions website

Cascade Sierra installs Webtech Wireless GPS units in each vehicle, connected directly to the truck’s engine management system. The Webtech Wireless units report truck location, speed, fuel consumption, and much more over the AT&T Mobile Network. These reports give Cascade Sierra the data needed to ensure funders, truck owners, and pollution control agencies trucks are being used as required, and goals are being met.

Webtech Wireless’ NextBus division, is also providing clear incentives for people to take more sustainable and environmentally friendly transportation options. Cities throughout North America are luring people out of their cars and onto public transportation by implementing the Nextbus solution to let riders know in real-time when the next transit vehicle will arrive.

For example, NextBus technology was deployed on 60 buses in the Canadian Maritime city of Saint John, New Brunswick. Because riders know when the bus is arriving, they spend less time waiting and therefore there’s more incentive to leave their CO2 emitting vehicles at home. The environmental value of a NextBus implementation, when coupled with a transit authority’s switch to bio and electric vehicles is profound for each city that implements it.

“The Government of Canada is proud to invest in modern technologies that are both efficient and environmentally responsible.”

—Member of Parliament for Saint John, Rodney Weston.

Truck Idling versus Fuel Economy: Every Minute Counts

–By Chuck Lane, Solution Engineer, Webtech Wireless
Idling for longer periods of time—whether at a job site, railroad crossing, or pulled off to the side of the road to make a cell phone call—consumes gasoline that could be saved by simply turning off the engine.


Idling truck Eliminating an hour of idling per day produces significant cost savings and emissions reductions over the course of a year. For fleets operating Class 3 and larger trucks, the savings are even more significant. For example, a typical truck burns a half-gallon of Diesel fuel for every hour it idles and, in the process, adds the equivalent of 40 miles of wear-and-tear to the engine. If you want to green your fleet by reducing emissions, you need to decrease fuel consumption, and the easiest way to do so is to decrease unnecessary idling.

For example, every gallon of gasoline burned idling creates 19.5 lbs. of CO2. Similarly, every gallon of Diesel burned idling creates 22.4 lbs. of CO2

The key is to be able to measure idling accurately. There are idling reports (using non BUS connectors) that simply calculate the time between ignition on and ignition off, and then subtract the time while moving to equal the actual idling time. This type of idle reporting, however, proves to be inaccurate for drivers that use the ignition to access the vehicle for things like radio and air conditioning, while leaving the engine off (Key On, Engine Off).

This type of scenario can be mitigated. If we install the Webtech Wireless Locator (GPS Unit) ignition wire to ignition on—avoiding accessory key position—the driver can then go to accessory position without affecting the Locator operation.  This is true for most light-duty vehicles. Most heavy-duty trucks/tractors have a key on and engine off alarm, so drivers don’t spend a lot of time in the key on, engine off scenario (the alarm is a soul piercing, shrieking high-pitch buzzer).

Webtech Wireless conducted a study with a major customer where we compared ignition on/off durations, to engine on durations.  The plan was to target this key on, engine off scenario.  We found a 2.7 percent deviation between ignition cycles and engine cycles. So for 100 minutes of key on, 97 minutes were engine on.  As this was so low, the customer accepted the Webtech Wireless Idle report using ignition cycles and not engine cycles.

Of course, the Non-Bus Idle report is completely different from the BUS-related (such as JBUS, CanBus, or OBDII) reports that actually report engine hours to be used in idle calculations. Webtech Wireless conducted the above study with the assumption that future non DLOGS (Driver Logs)/ HOS (Hours of Service) installations would avoid the BUS entirely.  We really have no control over the BUS and the failed elements that sometimes occur with customer vehicles.  We’ve already enabled odometer GPS to eliminate the BUS impact on the Locator odometer.  We found that over 2,500 tractors measured during fuel tax testing, had more errors with BUS than with non-BUS GPS (see Why Increased Accuracy Matters).

While it’s possible to gather idling information from both GPS and BUS related statistics, any vehicle that has a DLOGS/HOS system must be intrinsically synchronized with the vehicle BUS connection. In laymen’s terms, DOT (Department of Transportation) compliance requires a BUS connection.  We can’t avoid BUS anymore, if the solution is supporting DOT.  Fuel tax compliancy does not require BUS connectivity.  IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) regulations state ‘use an odometer’, and don’t require that the vehicle BUS odometer be the only one used.

In conclusion, non DOT system installations can use ignition and GPS data to measure vehicle idling accurately. Reducing unnecessary idling is the simplest way for a fleet to reduce fuel costs and unnecessary emissions. In addition, excess idling causes needless engine wear-and-tear and unnecessary noise pollution. A typical goal for many fleets is to reduce engine idling time to less than 5%, a goal that motivates many fleets to implement anti-idling initiatives.

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