Celebrating its 25th birthday in early May, Celadon Trucking Services noted its significant growth into one of the nation’s premier long haul truckload trucking companies. Founded May 4, 1985, the Indianapolis-based company has grown from 50 leased tractors and 100 trailers to a fleet of 3,100 power units and 10,000 trailers that serves over 2,000 customers throughout the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
“We have been successful for several reasons,” says Jeff A. Bryant, vice president of fleet maintenance. “One of those is our approach to our tractor fleet. We not only believe in operating several makes and models, we have also taken a very strategic approach to buying and replacing power units.”
In the Celadon fleet today is a mix of new International ProStar tractors, as well as groups of Volvo VNs and Freightliner Cascadias. Engines include Cummins ISX models, in addition to Detroit Diesel DD15s.
“Coming into 2010,” Bryant relates, “we were concerned about new engine technologies, and about the infrastructure that would be supporting them and the impact it would have on our drivers. We didn’t feel that we had enough concrete information about the new engines, issues that might arise and maintenance considerations.”
Those concerns and the age of its existing fleet, Bryant notes, led to the decision to replace almost the entire Celadon fleet over the past two years. “Now we have a newer fleet—our average tractor is 1.3 years old—with proven technology,” he says. “We are positioned to operate tractors for three years and sell them after 280,000 to 350,000 miles of service and with warranty coverage. Depending on the resale market, we could also opt to run trucks four years with a four-year/500,000-mile warranty already in place.”
Celadon is also firmly focused on fuel efficiency. “We started putting Espar D2 AirTronic cab heaters on our tractors about two and a half years ago,” Bryant reports. “We also installed ambient temperature sensors, which override the engine’s ability to run between 70 and 20˚ F. With these two technologies, drivers have A/C when they are parked and the temperature is above 70˚, and they can use the Espar units for heat at any time, as long as the parking brake is set. The 20˚ setting ensures that the truck will start and that fuel remains above its gelling point.”
Bryant, who closely tracks the fuel efficiency of all Celadon’s tractors, says that the improvement realized from the use of Espar units and ambient temperature sensors is clear. “We’ve lowered idle time by 15%,” he states. “That means we’re saving about $7 million annually at today’s fuel prices. For us the Espar auxiliary heaters have been an excellent choice. They use as little as three-hundredths of a gallon of fuel per hour, and they are easy to operate and service.
Celadon’s fuel efficiency improvement efforts have led to the carrier’s inclusion in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership. By the end of 2009, all of the fleet’s tractors were SmartWay certified, meaning they were equipped with a variety of technologies that improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to adding auxiliary heaters and ambient temperature sensors, Celadon also reduced the weight of its tractors 300 lbs. each by converting them to aluminum wheels. Additionally, the weight of many of its power units was cut another 260 lbs. by removing hood insulation, shortening the wheelbase to 224 in., converting battery boxes and hubs from steel to aluminum, removing the swivel passenger seat and reducing fuel tank capacity from 150 to 125 gallons.
Other actions that have helped lower fuel consumption at Celadon include recalibrating new engines to produce less than 30 grams of NOx at an idle, shortening the 5th wheel sliding assembly from 24 in. to 12 in. to close the trailer to tractor gap and minimize aerodynamic drag, and reducing maximum road speed for the entire fleet. Last but not least, all tractors and trailers are now equipped with Goodyear Fuel Max tires.
Celadon has also implemented a comprehensive tire inflation program that is further improving fuel efficiency. The program is in place at all seven of the company’s shops, including the main facility in Indianapolis and locations in Kitchener, Ont.; Laredo, Waxahachie, and El Paso, Texas; Greensboro, N.C.; and Richmond, Va. The shops are staffed by a total of 185 people and are managed by Bryant along with Clint Honeycutt, director of equipment utilization, and Dan Bowersox, director of outside service centers.
One other fuel saving measure implemented at Celadon is the use of Castrol Syngear synthetic lubricants in all transmissions and rear axles to minimize friction. Castrol SHL-00 hub grease is used in all trailer wheel positions and Pyroplex Protec-NLGI-2 full lithium tractor grease is in use, as well.
“That supports extended drains if we choose to go in that direction,” Bryant says. “We feel it is important to build the environment first to ensure success. We only use Greyco Fireball grease pumps for maximum crack pressure. The pumps force all grease to move in the component so we have the least path of resistance for fresh grease. We even purge out all factory grease when the truck is brand new.
“We also began using Castrol Hypuron semi-synthetic engine oil,” Bryant relates,” and we are testing Elixion full synthetic engine oil. We are hoping that its lower viscosity will mean easier start-up in cold weather. So far it appears to be giving a slight fuel economy gain and oil analysis is not reflecting any issues with wear metals.”
Separating battery power
Always looking for new ways to improve fuel efficiency, Bryant is actively working with Celadon’s OEMs to develop a new battery system. “We want to be able to separate battery power into cranking and hotel loads,” he explains. “We don’t want to spec an auxiliary power unit if we can use a separate battery system for hotel loads, including longer lasting lithium ion batteries because there are not any cranking requirements.”
Bryant’s idea also includes a high output alternator, new routing for wiring through the bunk to lower resistance and optimize charging cycles, and running air ducts from the cab into the battery compartments. By maintaining batteries and cabs at the same temperature, he notes, batteries will charge faster and less often.
“Along with upgrading cab insulation packages,” Bryant adds, “these changes will enable the evolution of a centralized HVAC system that does not rob the engine of horsepower and means fewer cooling fan cycles. Overall, it will improve driver comfort and save fuel.”
As a result of all of its initiatives, Celadon has made significant strides when it comes to reducing emissions and increasing fuel efficiency. Since 2005, the fleet’s fuel economy has improved by more than 25%.
At the same time, Celadon continues to grow. Now 25 years old, the company employs nearly 4,000 people and is generating annual revenues in excess of $500 million.
Celadon Trailer Specifications
Model: Wabash DuraPlate
Length: 53 ft.
Landing Gear: Jost Magnum
Axles/Suspension/Slider: Reyco Dockmaster II
Brakes/ABS: Meritor WABCO
Slack Adjusters: Haldex, automatic
Tires: Goodyear G314
Wheels: AccuLite, steel disc
Lighting & Electrical: Grote LED
Celadon Tractor Specifications
Model: International ProStar, Sky Rise sleeper
Wheelbase: 224 in.
Engine: Cummins ISX, 435 HP @ 1800 RPM
Clutch: Eaton Fuller Solo Easy-Pedal
Transmission: Eaton Fuller,
Driveshafts: Dana Spicer
Front Axle: Dana Spicer
Power Steering: TRW Ross
Rear Axle: Dana Spicer, tandem; 3.55 ratio
Rear Suspension: International Ride Optimized
Wheels: Alcoa aluminum disc
Tires: Goodyear Fuel Max; G395 LHS steer, G305 LHD drive
5th Wheel: Fontaine, air slide
Air Compressor: Cummins 18.7 CFM
Air Dryer: Bendix AD-IS, heated
Fuel/Water Separator: Davco Fuel Pro, heated
Fan Clutch: Borg Warner, on/off
Batteries: (4) Exide, 2600 CCA
Alternator: Delco Remy 36 SI, 165 amp
Block Heater: Phillips 1500 watt
Mirrors: Lang Mekra
Lighting: Truck-Lite LED
Seats: National; air, high back
Fuel Tanks: dual aluminum, 125-gal.