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Home > Feature Articles > Logistics and Vehicle Fleet Management > Trucking & Logistics for Efficiency, Fuel Savings, and Air Quality

Diesel Truck Idling Solutions & Strategies

Trucking and logistics provide many systemic solutions to reduce emissions from idling trucks at docks and warehouses.

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long haul reefer truck Engine idling costs businesses money in wasted fuel and engine wear, and needlessly pollutes loading docks and other work sites with tailpipe exhaust. According to industry estimates, idling costs the truck owner the price of almost one gallon of fuel each hour. The benefits of idling reduction include:
  • Fuel savings
  • Longer engine life
  • Longer time between oil and filter changes
  • Improved air quality
  • Less noise
  • Healthier work environment (loading docks, work bays, etc.)
Idling reduction can be accomplished through
  • driver and dock-worker behavior and systems, such as implementing fleet policies and conducting employee education campaigns,
  • technology, which could include truck stop electrification, auxiliary power units that ensure driver security and comfort during long waits and layover periods
  • when feasible, installation of onboard idle governors.
Periods of waiting at docks and warehouses due to poor logistics planning and sporadic gluts brought about by the natural seasonality of trucking lead to long periods of down time for truck drivers. These waits can be as long as 4 to 8 hours waiting to load or unload, and 8 to 12 hours when truck drivers are mandated to take breaks.

Idling impacts

Long-duration truck idling
  • Causes more oil and oil filter deterioration
  • Increases the need for more oil and filter changes
  • Lessens engine lifespan and hastens the need for engine rebuild

    Annually emits

  • 11 million tons of carbon dioxide
  • 180,000 tons of nitrogen oxides
  • 5,000 tons of particulate matter

    And annually

  • Consumes over one billion gallons of fuel
  • Costs over $2 billion
Security for drivers and valuable cargo are an issue. Drivers can't just leave the truck window down to enjoy the spring breeze!

And reefer trucks must keep their cargo cool. These are just a couple of the reasons that idling happens. And these reasons point out the necessity for a variety of strategies to address the problem. Idling is rooted in operations that begin far earlier than the driver's role.

Logistics planning to space out loads in involved.

Dispatching so that loads arrive during working hours at the dock is helpful in reducing the long waits.

Dockworker efficiency can be a matter of proper staffing during busy times and overcoming tendencies to play favorites with some truckers over others that are waiting.

And then we get into all the empty loads that travel our highways. One estimate by an experienced driver puts an educated guess at 40% of all miles are empty because of dispatch inefficiencies. Strategies are being developed with route optimization software and services to help reduce this wasted road time.

Sometimes the cause is the desire NOT to idle, not to sit in one place and wait for the next load, but to move on to a nearby load that brings an immediate payoff.

The field of logistics is not simple. With the challenges of intermodal flexibility: air, shipping, long distance carriers and local carriers -- the challenge continues.

And most green solutions require a look at the complete system in order to identify systemic solutions. Trucking is one of those green challenges. Only when we look at consumer demands of instant gratification, free shipping and global pricing can we truly green the trucking industry...or idling of diesel engines.



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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