WheelTime Network President and CEO Mike Delaney announced plans to launch a network challenge to expand the boundaries of MPG (miles per gallon) thinking and increase fuel savings for its customers using current and readily available, off-the-shelf technology as well as training.
"The use of natural gas is key to improving fuel savings, but there are problems that are slowing the transition and general adoption,” said Delaney. "Transition to dedicated natural gas vehicles is easier if your fuel consumption is very high, your routing is predictable and the availability of natural gas is convenient, but you also have to be able to afford the initial capital investment, and cover the upfront and increased maintenance costs."
"Right now, finding high-payback applications for 100 percent dedicated natural gas vehicles is a challenge. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t natural gas solutions for the average fleet right now," Delaney added.
"Today, customers are reporting $0.15-0.20 per mile savings with dual-fuel. This is significant and we think that it can be much higher," said Delaney. "Dual-fuel offers a great alternative to dedicated natural gas. By changing the way we think about fuel, and by combining new, but readily available technology with route planning, other technologies, driver training and incentives, we think we can take fuel savings much higher."
WheelTime has already begun development of a prototype program, working with one of its fleet customers to redefine the boundaries of readily achievable average fuel economy. The “No Limits” initiative will look into the following:
• Increase use of dual-fuel technology (technology also allows vehicles to run on diesel if no natural gas is available)
• Advanced glider utilization
• Optimal routing and/or tankage for fuel availability
• Continuous measurement and improvement of key benchmarks
• Real world, for-hire applications
• Driver training – including education and incentives
• Technology additions and continuous improvement based upon application
"The program emphasis will be on "off-the-shelf" technology and real-world applications," said Delaney. "We want people to see what an average fleet can do right now without waiting."
In 2013, WheelTime made a commitment to become a center of excellence for natural gas technology installation and service. Since that time, WheelTime Network has completed more than 150 fuel system/tank installations with customer orders predicted to be triple that number in 2014.
"In 2013 we trained technicians representing about 43 of our locations. More classes are scheduled and we will continue to expand training in 2014 to keep pace with expanding demand," Delaney added.
"Efficiency and speed, guided by advanced systems and administered by a high quality truck and coach service network, offer breakthrough capabilities for customers to reduce costs, increase control and drive 'wheel time'," Delaney added. "Our overall goal remains, as the name implies, to reduce time in the shop and create more time at the wheel for every customer."