Schwoaze / Pixabay

The trucking industry has changed a lot since the days when I’d ride in the third seat of the family station wagon, facing backwards, and wave at truckers in the hopes they’d toot their big horn back at me.   (TOOT TOOT!) Back then, they drove what they thought was the best route, in vehicles that were sometimes well-maintained, sometimes not.

Fast forward to the present – now logistics has moved into the 21st century, and the improvements are helping shippers, and freight companies, save time, money, and fuel.  With my degree in Environmental Engineering and extensive experience in Quality and Process Improvement, I was excited to dig into this topic and find out more about some of the innovations that have taken place recently.  In order to understand this better, I contacted Steven Haas ( 612-296-1806, ), Director of major accounts for RR Donnelly’s DLS Worldwide, and one of ARA’s preferred freight carriers.  Steve was able to talk knowledgeably about several of the innovations and improvements in the logistics field.

Saving Time and Fuel – We’ve got an App for that

Free-Photos / Pixabay

No longer are truckers using paper maps to figure out the best route for the day; now truckers use software, which calculates the most efficient route, taking loads, distance, and other factors (construction zones, road work, major accidents) into account.   

The US EPA has the Smartway program, which encourages shippers and logistics companies to use their program to monitor and plan out their routes, in order to reduce their carbon footprint by being more efficient. It also provides an overall score for the drive, and more and more customers are requiring improvement in Smartway scores as part of doing business with logistics companies.

Routing dispatchers are also benefiting from better software in helping to determine how to route the fleet that saves time, money, and fuel.  The use of smart software that tracks all trucks en route and provides feedback on their efficiency as well as location ensures that decisions are fact-based instead of intuitive.

It’s Not All About the Apps

IADE-Michoko / Pixabay

Truckers are also using mechanical means to improve their score – using more fuel-efficient and newer engines; and understanding the effects of drag on the truck.  The components of drag are the front/cab (25%); the tractor trailer itself (50% – 30% underneath and 20% between cab and trailer) and 25% at the rear of the trailer.  This provides opportunities to minimize drag, by the use of fairing – for the cab roof, the fuel-tank; low rolling resistance tire; fairing at the front of the trailer in the cab gap;); and the use of “wings” on the back of the trailer to help with aerodynamics.  This is in addition to side and front panels resulting in decreased drag.

Additionally, due to some low-idle and no-idle initiatives, some truckers are now more aware of the costs of idling (fuel usage, emissions) and are bringing heavier bedding in the cabs with them, so they can fully shut off the cab at night and eliminating the need for all-night idling.

Truck of the Future?

Many truck designers are working on highly-streamlined models for future models – they look more like they could be transporting storm troopers than an engine, but give a glimpse as to what we may be seeing on the roads in the future.

What Can a Shipper Do?

In order for a yard to be more efficient and effective, they can have their information on hand and have verified it’s correct:

  • What freight class they are shipping
  • Accurate pick up and drop off location (Google Satellite verified locations)
  • Whether it is a residential or commercial drop off location

Shippers can also request safer scores and Smartway scores from your carriers.

Since shipping is a fact of life for recycling yards, it makes sense to be as efficient and effective as possible in order to save time, fuel, and money!

This article was published in Automotive Recycling magazine, the official industry publication of the Automotive Recyclers Association,