Limiting Speed Doesn’t Mean Limiting Efficiency
By Joseph Evangelist
Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange
It’s likely that there will be a final ruling on limiting the speed of heavy-duty trucks as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making.
There are arguments both for and against speed limiters, but the reality is that many fleets have been limiting their vehicle speeds for years for both safety and fuel economy reasons.
Speed can be adjusted in a number of ways including by limiting horsepower, RPM or overall top speed through the vehicle’s engine control module. According to Tom Poduch, Transervice’s Director of Logistics Design, “Fleets such as Transervice, adjust vehicle speed and overall engine performance to meet the specific requirements of the product being hauled, operating environment and anticipated road grades with the goal of maximizing vehicle fuel economy.”
The primary concern with limited speed is that more resources such as drivers and trucks will have to be added to the fleet to maintain the high level of service expected by the customer. Static delivery windows may become a challenge.
The reality is with some modifications to the routing there should be little-to-no loss of efficiency even when operating at lower speeds. Computer-based route modeling allows the user to insert limitless variables into the system and adjust the algorithm behavior to develop an achievable baseline model. “The baseline can take into account product ready times, delivery windows, vehicle availability/capacity, priority delivery points and expected road speeds,” Poduch explains.
We use an optimization tool that looks at driver and vehicle performance focusing on road speed(s), hard braking, idle time, fuel economy, etc.
Once the baseline is completed, local knowledge, utilization historical data and driver feedback can be used to determine the viability of the model.
If additional resources are still needed, investigate if they can be offset by opening the windows of delivery, changing the delivery day of a set delivery point, or try a new trailer configuration. “Testing these dynamic modifications using computer modeling will identify opportunities to further meet current and future fleet demands efficiently, while minimizing the impact of fuel economy, resources or customer service,” Poduch says.
Whether or not the federal government decides to limit speeds, or if you decide to do it yourself, route optimization can keep asset utilization high, get deliveries made on time and continue to keep customers satisfied, all while improving your fuel economy, tire wear and overall cost. It can become a WIN-WIN, depending on how you approach it.