YRC finds ways to sip less fuel
YRC Worldwide is reducing fuel burn by evaluating every mile its trucks spend on the road.
The Overland Park, Kan.-based trucking firm estimates that it will take out about 20 million truck miles from its North American network to gain a fuel savings of about $40 million.
“Ten miles here, 20 miles there, eight miles here — it’s added up fairly quickly,” said Mike Smid, president and chief executive officer of YRC North America, to reporters in Washington on Thursday.
With the national diesel fuel cost at $4.73 the first week of July, it costs YRC more than $1,200 to fill one of its trucks, compared to about $750 a year ago. As a less-than-truckload carrier, fuel burn is much higher due to more stops and shorter hauls than traditional long-haul moves.
According to Bill Zollars, YRC chairman and CEO, the company’s fuel surcharge, which equates to about 40 percent, must be adjusted with its customers each week.
Smid said YRC continues to “look at tighter compression of services.” He explained that many three-day regional services will be reduced to two- and one-day services, and many cross-country services will be reduced from five days on average to four days.
Zollars said the fuel-saving changes to YRC’s network were made easier by the flexibility built into its new labor contract with its unionized drivers. The contract allows YRC to end make-work trips for local terminals and structure more direct routes and substitute truckload service for increasingly expensive rail service used for line-haul moves.
The previous labor deal allowed YRC to use intermodal rail for 26 percent of its long-haul carriage. The new pact increases purchased transportation levels to 28 percent, up to 4 percent of which can used for truckload service in the first year of the five-year contract. But rail has been a challenge for YRC. “Most of the railroads are out of capacity,” Zollars said.
Another way for YRC to reduce fuel burn — and at the same time curb carbon emissions — is to avoid truck idling in its fleet. “We don’t idle trucks. We provide a million hotel rooms for our drivers a year,” Zollars said.
On the facility side, YRC is considering ways to introduce renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. Zollar said the company is talking to Kansas officials about introducing wind power to its service centers. “It just makes sense,” he said.
In other news, YRC plans to complete the first phase of its acquisition of Chinese trucking firm Shanghai Jiayu Logistics Co. Ltd, in the next four to six weeks, Zollars said. Jiayu, with more than 200 service centers, opens up a whole new customer base to YRC in China. ' Chris Gillis