Partnership pay-offs

Partnership pay-offs

Con-way Inc. recently completed its acquisition of Missouri-based Contract Freighters Inc., and the company got far more than CFI’s 2600 tractors and 7,000 trailers for which it negotiated.

Con-way Inc. recently completed its acquisition of Missouri-based Contract Freighters Inc., and the company got far more than CFI’s 2600 tractors and 7,000 trailers for which it negotiated. It also got the fleet’s commitment to EPA’s SmartWay Partnership. Now operating as Con-way Truckload, the fleet has been a member of the program since early 2005 when Bruce Stockton, vice president of maintenance and asset management, was attracted to some of the management tools available to SmartWay partners, specifically, its Fleet Model. This is an electronic tool that allows a fleet to enter its own data to establish a baseline and develop an action plan to improve its fuel mileage and reduce its carbon footprint.

Stockton says, “We saw that this tool was available to us at no charge by joining the Partnership. Through SmartWay membership we also had the opportunity to gain assistance in reducing exhaust emissions and improving our carbon footprint. Every year we’re required, as a Partner, to update our fleet model, and there’s always something new that they’re looking into and capturing additional data to make sure all Partners have a similar list of items that they can implement not only to save them money but also make them a better steward of the environment.”

Con-way has made progress in its few years of membership. It recently won SmartWay’s Excellence Award for its achievement in contributing to the Partnership’s goals to conserve energy and protect the environment. Partners were selected for the award based on their use of technologies and operating procedures that save fuel and reduce air pollution, and the execution of companywide policies and strategies that also help save energy and lower emissions.

Shortly after CFI had joined SmartWay, its sister division, Con-way Freight, joined the Partnership –– a move much in line with its published policy, “With ‘green’ buildings, stringent truck idling restrictions, and speed, we lead the industry in our environmental stewardship thinking.” Mike Grima, the Con-way Freight’s director of fleet and maintenance says, “Since joining the Partnership, we’ve incorporated new air fairing technology, turned our top vehicle speed down to 62 MPH from 65 MPH and gone to low-profile tires and a more efficient alternator on all new equipment.” The last item alone will save the fleet $80.00 every 100,000 miles.

“Our fleet drives over 500 million miles a year and consumes over 90 million gallons of diesel fuel. With numbers that significant we are in a great position to help the environment by way of operating improvements,” said David S. McClimon, president of Con-way Freight. “We will be buying ‘greener’ engines that emit less carbon and nitrogen oxides and we are currently testing more efficient tires and reduced air drag mirrors. We also have a strict idling policy in place with an automatic shut off after five minutes.” Also, McClimon cited the company’s current use of synthetic lubricants, clutch-type fans and external aerodynamics to increase engine efficiency and lower emissions.

Among SmartWay partners are many shippers that, among other things, commit to increase the percentage of freight shipped by SmartWay Transport Partnership carriers to at least 50 percent, a policy that benefits fleet partners.

Stockton says, “More and more, shippers are asking during the bid process, ‘Are you a SmartWay Partner and what are your sustainability efforts going forward?’ This is especially true of larger companies like Wal-Mart and Anheuser-Busch.”

The SmartWay Partnership offers benefits to fleets of any size. Stockton says, “For any size fleet, I think the time commitment is minimal for the large return possible. In today’s market, with fuel well over $3.00 per gallon, I don’t know how you can ignore focusing on sustainability efforts, and EPA’s SmartWay Program is one way to give structure to that without having to hire an expert.”

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