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Don’t sit idly by: Putting idle reduction solutions to work saving money, retaining drivers

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Jason Morgan is the editor of Fleet Equipment. He has more than 14 years of B2B journalism experience covering the likes of trucking and construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer industries.

Additional idle reduction options

Webasto Coolant Heater

Webasto

There are additionally idle reduction options that do not rely on an APU. Take Idle Smart, for example. It’s an automatic start/stop solution that helps reduce overnight idle time, provide year-round cabin comfort and maintain fleet uptime by keeping batteries charged and engines blocks warm by continuously monitoring interior and ambient temperatures to safely and efficiently start and stop vehicles to reduce fuel consumption and maintain temperature.

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“Because fleets seem to be moving to shorter refresh cycles, many are starting to choose alternative equipment to APUs,” said Jeff Lynch, president of Idle Smart. “There are many, many solutions on the market and each has its pros and cons. From Idle Smart’s standpoint, it’s less about what’s ‘best’ and more about ‘how much you are paying to save money.’

“We find that a lot of time and energy is spent on the up-front costs—i.e., purchase price—and not enough time is spent on the run costs mentioned above. In our experience, the return on investment lives or dies with the run costs, which are often overlooked or minimized.”

IdleAir also provides a idle alternative through a truck stop HVAC with 120-volt power services at major travel centers, including Pilot Flying J, Love’s, Sapp Brothers and select TravelCenters of America and Petro franchisee locations. IdleAir currently operates more than 35 travel center locations in 17 states, plus dedicated fleet terminal installations. IdleAir enables truck drivers to eliminate engine idling while utilizing air conditioning, heating and 120-volt electricity, as well as other driver-focused amenities like high-speed Internet, and DirecTV.

Most interestingly, IdleAir’s Dedicated Fleet Terminal Solution is IdleAir’s fastest growing segment with plans to install multiple locations with several major fleets accelerating in 2015. This setup inside of fleets’ own yards bypasses traditional TSE at truckstops and passes savings from reduced rent and reduced staffing on to the fleet.

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“Depending on the size of potential fleet locations, IdleAir will potentially absorb all installation and equipment costs and pass along it’s rent and staffing savings by offering HVAC and 120-volt service typically at $1.49/hour,” explained Ethan Garber, chief executive officer of IdleAir. “When our price is this low and equipment is easy to access, we find usage surging to up to 12 hours/day per space during Summer months at many of our fleet terminal locations.”

Control climate, control idle

Airtronic D2“We are seeing a huge spike in fleets using coolant heaters [engine pre-heaters] to reduce idling,” explained Josh Lupu, Director of Marketing, Webasto Thermo & Comfort North America. “The traditional use for a coolant heater is to pre-heat the engine in cold temperatures to eliminate cold starts, reduce idling and save fuel. What we have found through independent testing is that Webasto coolant heaters also significantly increase the performance of diesel particulate filters [DPFs].”

Lupu went on to say that the coolant heater will reduce emissions drastically on start-up, up to 66% reduction in particulate matter, which in turn reduces filter overloading, face plugging and wet stacking. While the cost to maintain a DPF is hefty, a heater, like the ones offered by Webasto, can help reduce this cost by extending maintenance cycles and reducing the amount of soot that builds up in the DPF.

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Fuel-operated heaters, such as Eberspaecher, which heats the bunk and an engine pre-heater, are both light weight systems (6 to 8 lbs.) and use small amounts of fuel and electrical. Units are also both CARB and EPA SmartWay approved. The ROI on these units which range in cost average between $1,095 to $1,695, falls in between six to 12 months and comes with a two-year warranty, related John Dennehy, Eberspaecher vice president, marketing and communications.

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