Freight Efficiency Demonstration Focuses on Regional Haul Segment
The Run on Less Regional demonstration showed how Class 8 tractors — both diesel and CNG — and trailers can use a variety of technologies to achieve the best fuel economy possible in a variety of regional haul applications.
Ten fleets using only commercially available technology participated in the Run: C&S Wholesale Grocers, Hirschbach, Hogan Transportation, J.B. Hunt, Meijer, PepsiCo, Ploger Transportation, Schneider, Southeastern Freight Lines, and UPS. For the purpose of the Run, regional haul was defined as truck staying within a 300-mile radius of a home base. This may include tractors that return to a home base every day or ones on a route for multiple days but that stay within that 300-mile radius.
The goals of the report are(a) to help the industry understand the growing segment of regional haul, (b) to demonstrate that 8.3 MPG is possible for Class 8 trucks performing regional haul (compared to the national average of 6.0 MPG), (c) to highlight the technologies and practices that make ultra-low fuel consumption in regional haul possible, and (d) to explore the opportunities of emerging technologies such as electric, hydrogen and connectivity.
How It Worked
This report’s conclusions were generated through data collection and calculations from Run on Less Regional. Data was collected using multiple data collection and devices and methods, and where practical, two separate methods for collecting and calculating each metric were used.
All trucks were instrumented with a Geotab telematics device and an engineering datalogger supplied by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Fuel use and distance traveled were the two most critical parameters tracked. Additionally, to supplement the MPG data, the tram recorded other factors that can affect fuel efficiency, including payload weight, vehicle speed, wind and elevation change.
In total, the 10 trucks traveled more than 58,000 miles during the 18-day event, recording 237 deliveries while achieving a cumulative 8.3 MPG (103 ton-miles/gallon), a 38% improvement over the average Class 8 regional haul operation, estimated by NACFE to be 6.0 MPG. If all regional haul fleets were to operate at this fuel-efficiency, the industry would save more than $9 billion in fuel over the course of a year and 30.6 million tons of CO2.
After the Run on Less Regional event, a group of people from various organizations analyzed the data for interesting conclusions which are presented in the full report. Two complementary reports contain findings from separate studies conducted over the past few months. The first is “Battery Electric Powertrains for Class 8 Regional Haul Freight Based on NACFE Run-On-Less”, which analyzes how electric trucks might be employed for these duty cycles. The second is a white paper written in conjunction with Ballard titled, “Fuel Cell Electric Trucks: An analysis of hybrid vehicle specifications for regional freight transport,” which does the same for hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks.
Additionally, here is a dataset with the key metrics from Run on Less Regional is downloadable for analysis.
Effects of Conditions on MPG
The team collected and showed data on the conditions and speed during Run on Less Regional in part to demonstrate that the trucks were not operated in carefully controlled settings but in the real world where wind, elevation changes, congestion and other factors can and do impact fuel efficiency.
As with the Run on Less 2017 dataset, NACFE developed a regression model for Run on Less Regional to identify the impact various conditions and duty cycle characteristics have on MPG. Regression analysis is a tool often used to understand the relationship between a dependent variable to one or more independent variables (also referred to as predictors). In this case, the regression shows which and by how much the predictors — gross vehicle weight, speed, duty cycle, traffic, road type, elevation, temperature, wind — affect MPG in regional haul applications.
Regional Haul Defined
Regional haul is a growing, complex and oftentimes misunderstood segment of the trucking industry. NACFE has helped define the segments of regional, outlined the efficiency opportunity, explored how a freight movement shift is underway and how transformational technologies will create a cleaner future.
Upon completion of Run on Less Regional, NACFE concluded:
- High efficiency requires a commitment from both fleet leadership and drivers. The 10 fleets in Run on Less Regional averaged 8.3 MPG with the nine diesels at 8.7 MPG.
- Big data and connectivity can be used to further optimize tractor operations for each route. Many technologies exist to improve the efficiency for these regional routes. Understanding each in-depth will help in making choices to save fuel, money, and emissions.
- Fleet managers must understand and act on the variety in duty cycles so they can specify vehicles properly and coach drivers in efficient driving techniques. NACFE suggests seven duty cycles for regional haul: shuttle, dedicated, dedicated fast turn, hub and spoke, city, diminishing load and milk runs.
- The expansion of regional haul will help attract and retain drivers as drivers get home on a more regular basis. More regional haul opens many more potential people to truck driving jobs.
- Because of its return-to-base operation, regional haul is ideal for alternative-fuel vehicles, especially battery electric trucks. Infrastructure to charge electric or alternative fuel trucks is a critical barrier to deployment. Having confidence in the location of the infrastructure to support these vehicles is important to deciding to move forward with electric trucks.