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Smart Choices

For O&S Trucking, fuel-saving technologies, effective specification choices and efforts to improve the efficiency of its operations are enabling ongoing growth and success

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“While being involved in the design and development process is not always best for us, because it takes quite a bit of time that we do not always have, we are always looking at new things that may fit in our operation and result in improved efficiency or productivity,” says Jim Frieze, director of equipment at O&S Trucking. “In a number of cases we have found those types of solutions and implemented them as quickly as possible.”

 

Based in Springfield , Mo. , O&S is a full-service truckload carrier handling dry and temperature-controlled loads for customers throughout the continental U.S. and Canada . The operation includes company-owned vehicles and owner-operators, who are supported by a lease/purchase division that enables interested drivers to buy company tractors over time and become dedicated contractors to O&S.

The O&S fleet of approximately 400 tractors consists mainly of Freightliner Columbia models. In addition, there are 550 Wabash dry vans in the operation and 230 refrigerated trailers supplied by Wabash and Utility that are equipped with Thermo King and Carrier refrigeration units.

Tractor trade cycles at O&S are not 100 percent defined, Frieze says, because company power units are completely refurbished and moved into the lease/purchase fleet. Trailers are typically fielded for five to seven years. “Cost per mile and replacement costs are the most influential factors in our equipment purchasing and specification decisions,” he notes. “Once we identify systems and components that get the best results and lowest costs, we standardize on them across the board in the fleet. Standardization is also best for parts purchasing and inventory control.”

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Improving MPG

“All of our equipment is designed to move freight efficiently and economically,” Frieze says, “and one of our ongoing efforts is to make equipment choices that improve fuel economy. One of the better choices we’ve made has been for Thermo King’s TriPac auxiliary idle reduction and temperature management systems. We’ve installed 147 of the units on our company trucks and plan to do more, as well as 47 of the systems on lease/purchase vehicles.

“We chose the Thermo King TriPac APUs because of their low weight, smooth installation process and ease of integration with the truck’s charging system,” Frieze says. “TriPac APUs have benefited O&S through driver satisfaction and improved fuel mileage. Our drivers have been very pleased with their quiet operation, the comfort they add and the convenience of the system.”

As for fuel savings, O&S estimates that its tractors with the TriPac units save a minimum of .3 MPG, which adds up to approximately 96 gallons of fuel per truck per month, says Elisha Sawyer, fuel services manager.

“In some cases, the savings has been as much as .4 MPG or more, depending on what the amount of idle time was before installation,” she says. “Fuel consumption is greatly decreased by less idling because the APU uses .04 gallons per hour in summer months and .016 gallons per hour in winter compared to .75 gallons per hour to run the engine.”

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In addition to the Thermo King TriPac units, Sawyer relates that fuel savings at O&S are generated by aerodynamic vehicle profiles and weight reducing specifications, including aluminum wheels. O&S also recommends that drivers use sliding 5th wheels to reduce the distance between cabs and trailers to 35 inches or less to limit wind resistance. In addition, each vehicle’s electronically controlled engine parameters are set up for fuel economy by limiting road speed and enabling an idle shutdown after two minutes with no override allowed.

Tires also contribute to fuel efficiency at O&S, notes Jim Frieze, who points to the fleet’s choices of new Michelin, Bridgestone and Yokohama tires and Michelin retreads as having a positive impact on MPG performance due to their low rolling resistance. Furthermore, all O&S trailers are equipped with PSI automatic tire inflation systems from Meritor, which he says foster better fuel economy by maintaining proper inflation pressures as well as help lower cost per mile and cost per 32nd through longer tread life.

Optimization

Fuel saving practices are fully integrated throughout O&S.

“We pull fuel prices daily from OPIS and load them into our fuel optimization software,” Sawyer says. “At the same time, drivers input fuel levels on their Qualcomm on-board communications systems and all of that data is run through our Show Me dispatch management system and ALK PCMiler routing software. The fuel optimization software then generates fuel stops based on all of that criteria as well as parameters such as average miles per gallon, minimum balance of fuel and miles between fuel stops, and the driver receives a solution that includes where to buy the most and least expensive fuel over a given route.

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“We also work with drivers to maximize fuel efficiency,” Sawyer says. At least once each month we download engine data and put it into a fuel economy report that goes to each driver’s fleet manager, who then counsels the driver on particular habits if needed. Drivers are also educated on how to read their own downloads. In addition, we generate reports on trucks that are exhibiting poor fuel economy and evaluate them to see if the cause is driver related or a maintenance issue and either counsel the driver or have our maintenance staff perform a fuel economy check up on the vehicle.”

The O&S maintenance operation is managed by John Gervais, maintenance director. Also on the maintenance management team is Jeff Ward, owner-operator maintenance manager, and Steve “Hippy” Morton, road breakdown and parts manager. The nine-bay O&S shop – which operates six days a week, 11 hours per day – has 12 technicians who staff two drive-through inspection bays and handle all routine maintenance and most repairs. Larger jobs, such as clutch replacement and major engine work, are outsourced because of manpower, space and efficiency considerations.

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“We also use Fleet Assistant Maintenance software from Cetaris to handle our schedules and track costs by VMRS code,” Frieze says. “It allows us to look at a lot of data in different ways and use it to make effective purchasing decisions. From equipment choices to parts supplies, our supplier and dealer relationships are vital to our success. We have several national accounts for parts and we also look to our supplier and dealer partners to help us provide training – along with information from the Technology & Maintenance Council.”

Paying dividends

Another partnership that Sawyer says already is paying dividends for O&S is its participation since early this year in the SmartWay Transport Partnership, the voluntary program between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the freight industry that is designed to increase energy efficiency while significantly reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution.

“SmartWay leads the way toward more efficient operations by helping us adopt fuel-saving strategies and technologies,” she says.

The use of technology to enhance efficiency and productivity and streamline operations is apparent throughout O&S. Along with on-board communications systems, the company has a fully staffed 24-hour dispatch center and has enabled customers with the ability to obtain instant, online proof of delivery and real-time Internet-based load and equipment location tracking. In addition, drivers and owner-operators can access settlement reviews within one hour of processing.

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Founded as a freight brokerage firm in 1981, O&S Trucking began fielding owner-operator vehicles in 1983 and added company-owned equipment in 1992. In 2000 it became an employee-owned business that has also grown through mergers and acquisitions.

Over the years, O&S has expanded its offerings, including the formation of its refrigerated division in 2003, all while continuing to serve more than 350 customers, including many well known names such as Reckitt Benckiser, Kraft, Tyson, Loren Cook Co., Bass Pro Shops, ConAgra, Lowes, Campbell Soup and Cliffstar Corp.

O&S TRUCKING TRACTOR SPECIFICATIONS

Model: Freightliner Columbia

Wheelbase: 230 inches

Engine: Detroit Diesel Series 60, 14-liter

Clutch: Eaton

Transmission: Eaton Fuller

Driveshafts: ArvinMeritor

Front Axle: ArvinMeritor

Front Suspension: ArvinMeritor

Power Steering: TRW

Rear Axle: ArvinMeritor

Wheel Seals: CR

Brakes: Meritor WABCO

ABS: Meritor WABCO

Automatic Slack Adjusters: Haldex

Rear Suspension: Freightliner Airliner

Wheels: Accuride

Tires: Michelin

5th Wheel: Fontaine 6000

Air Compressor: Bendix, 15.9 CFM

Air Dryer: Bendix

Air Cleaners: Donaldson

Fan Clutch: Kysor

Batteries: Alliance

Starter: Delco

Alternator: Delco

Seats: EZ Rider

Paint: Dupont Imron 6000

O&S Trucking Trailer Specifications

Models: Wabash Duraplate dry vans; Utility and Wabash refrigerated; 53 ft

Refrigeration Units: Thermo King, Carrier

Landing Gear: The Holland Group

Axles: ArvinMeritor

Suspension: Reyco,Hendrickson, Oil Seals: CR

Brakes: Meritor WABCO

ABS: Meritor WABCO

Tires: Bridgestone

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