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Trucking companies seek to improve fuel economy as diesel hovers around $3.16 per gallon

As the price of diesel continues to hover around $3.16 per gallon nationwide, trucking companies are investing in solutions to improve fuel mileage.

Nationally, trucking companies are averaging around 6.52 miles per gallon, according to data provided by Vnomics, a Rochester, New York-based company that provides analytics solutions to help fleets improve vehicle and driver performance.

According to the 2018 “An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking,” prepared by the American Transportation Research Institute, fuel costs account for 22 percent of the total cost of running a truck.

Companies like Ruan Transport, a privately held company headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, have implemented fuel economy initiatives to boost their miles per gallon (MPG).

Some of its initiatives include modernizing its fleet of approximately 4,000 Class 8 trucks, said Steve Larsen, Ruan’s director of procurement and fuel.

“We’ve increased average fuel economy by well over a mile per gallon in the past five years and over one-half mile per gallon in the last three years,” Larsen told FreightWaves.

The average age of its Ruan’s fleet is 2.8 years, he said. The company, which hauls dedicated freight, also has invested in aerodynamic packages and low-rolling resistance tires as ways to improve its trucks’ fuel economy. Ruan also has speed governors on its trucks, which are mainly Freightliners, to help save on fuel expenses.

The company uses automatic on-board recording devices, or AOBRDs, that measure the fuel economy by truck and driver, Larsen said.

“The reporting we receive from the AOBRDS helps us manage training issues with a driver if needed or it can tell us if there is a maintenance problem with the truck that’s causing us to lose fuel mileage,” Larsen said.

Owner-operator Henry Albert of Albert Transport told FreightWaves that fuel is his highest cost besides his salary, but that he has implemented fuel-saving technologies to achieve his current 9.4 mpg.

Albert is a member of Freightliner’s Team Run Smart, a group that helps truckers improve their businesses by investing in technologies to reduce fuel usage. He drives a 2018 Freightliner, equipped with trailer skirts and other advanced technologies to improve his fuel mileage.

SAIA, a less-than-truckload carrier headquartered in Johns Creek, Georgia, has boosted its miles per gallon from 5.8 mpg to 6.8 mpg and has cut its fuel consumption by 3.5 million gallons annually using Vnomics’ fuel optimization technology, the company said.

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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 13 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Prior to joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and Trucks.com. Clarissa lives in Grain Valley, Missouri, with her family.
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