HD Diesels don’t just haul stuff, apparently they can eat up some of the most difficult terrain on the planet. Check out this article from one of our favorite blogs, Diesel Power Products on the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah…
By far, one of our favorite events of the year surprisingly isn’t even a diesel specific event, its actually originally intended as a “Jeep only” event: Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. Fortunately for us, not only do we have a passion for Jeeps, but there are also several expeditions during EJS specifically tailored for full size pickups. Because of this, and our love of offroading, EJS is a perfect time for us to get out, have some fun, and test many of the products we sell.
EJS 2016 is now well under way, and the hills of Moab are packed with offroaders of all kinds, including a few of the Diesel Power Products crew and several of our vehicles. One of the vehicles we have equipped to handle the rigors of the trails is a 2016 Ram 2500 sporting the 6.7L Cummins engine that we loaded with a host of products from our new found partner, American Expedition Vehicles, or AEV. Specifically, this Ram is running AEV’s 3″ DualSport SC Suspension System, 17″ Katla Wheels, Premium Front Bumper, and their soon-to-be-released fender flare kit to allow clearance for the massive 40″ Nitto tires we are running under this beast. Not only did this Ram easily and safely haul an enclosed trailer loaded with a Jeep and tons of gear all the way from Spokane, Washington to Moab, Utah, but has been tearing up the rocks and sand with only adjustments to the tire pressure.
As EJS16 comes to a close at the end of this week, we will be sure to update with more action shots so you can really get a feel for what Easter Jeep Safari is about, and how a well equipped Ram can truly keep up with the best Jeeps out there on the trails, yet still be able to work like a truck is intended to.
To see the full range of AEV products for your Ram, click HERE.
Made specifically with medium or large logistics outfits, but also applicable to companies in the Service and Towing field, Fleet Management Software (FMS) is almost a requirement in today’s trucking world in order to stay competitive. FMS helps logistics and shipping companies to maximize their fleet utilization through proactive tracking, routing and data reporting.
We looked back at some of the software available just 5 years ago and, suffice to say, newer FMS solutions in 2016 are truly exceptional thanks in part to better available technology and a healthy, competitive market. In this post, we’ll review 5 of the latest popular solutions employed today by top trucking and logistics companies.
Networkfleet is one of the more widespread fleet management software programs in use today. Thanks to Verizon’s vast network of satellites and wireless towers as a foundation to their patented telematics solution, it enables companies as close to real-time control over their fleets as anything else on the market today. While the dashboard interface is somewhat confusing it does cover all the functional needs with mileage monitoring, fuel use, emergency or down-time indicators and any diagnostics codes. Their maintenance scheduling application is interactive and does alert driver of the date and time of any maintenance check-up which is not found in most other applications.
Not known exactly for their customer care, we do take issue with Verizon’s lack of 24/7 technical support
A great solution for those on a budget, Prophesy Dispatch has been around since 2006 and costs about between $80 and $90 / month depending on a “Broker” or “Broker and Carrier” status (c. 2016). In that time they’ve developed a loyal base of customer thanks to an “everything’s there” application, including regulations management. While again, support is lacking to business hours, we’ve found that they do respond consistently with 24 hours and do have solid online training program in place for new users.
In addition to quick real-time monitoring of truck status, we found the dashboard to be highly intuitive. Any duplicate date seemed to carry over to other transactions(which is sorely needed in overseas transactions where duplicate documents are a miserable requirement), making BOL documentation a breeze. Overall a great value solution for both domestic and international truckload carriers, freight brokers, and also LTL carriers. Click here for the Prophesy Dispatch software costs and payment schedule.
Used in the trucked industry since the 2001, Quartix Fleet Tracking is a US specific web-based logistics tracking product that utilizes patented GPS tracking devices and telematics. Weighing only 2 ounces, the device is installed by Quartix and is used for routing optimization and fleet tracking and is sufficiently robust for long term use – they claim to have “redundancy” built into their servers and databases to limit downtime . Unfortunately, the software does not have, nor plans to have integrated dispatch capabilities, but for around $20 per month plus installation, what more can you ask for a real-time tracking software.Any fuel indicators tracking are based on logs or averages input by the management team or by the drivers and are not live.
Overall a great product for peanuts per month. Unfortunately for a the modular, fully integrated solution that most larger logistics companies would want, the lack of long term functionality will be a concern.
Telogis is a company that provides a software solution for managing your entire fleet of vehicles that goes far beyond simple GPS tracking. It is a web-based solution, one that can be scaled very easily to accommodate the growth of your business. It is also designed to integrate with any type of business, and can help with dispatching and also payroll. Regular maintenance of vehicles is also incorporated into the software, making sure that your fleet is always updated and repairs are made when necessary.
A common complaint of the service is the downtime experienced with the GPS tracking units. While Telogis will replace units free of charge, any downtime can costs much more than simply installation costs.
RTA is a small software company that offers a complete Fleet Management solution at a great price. As a scalable application RTA functions well with large organizations, and offers a suite of applications that can help you maintain high production and safety levels. It includes asset management, work order management, and can also help you manage your inventory. It is designed to help companies reduce overall liability, improve efficiency, and help reduce the cost of fuel usage.
Built on an older platform there are minor issues with redundancy in entry and it does not offer a dispatch module. However, the training is top-notch and the customer support is solid. As of 2016 they are on release 7.0 and are consistently updating their product to match customer requests.
All of these software solutions, whether they are on your computers at your place of business, or if they are utilized online, can help you run your business much more efficiently. They all come with a multitude of different options, all of which are designed to help you manage your fleet of vehicles while they are on the road, and also schedule regular maintenance so that you are never surprised by intermittent breakdowns which could cost your company money. Visit each of these websites to find out which one will actually work best for your business. The key to making sure that your fleet of vehicles is operating at optimal levels, and that your business is generating the most revenue, is to always use state-of-the-art fleet management software programs.
One of the big development pursuits in the tech field recently has been that of the “Driver-less” car. Many big tech companies and startups alike are envisioning a day where driver interactions with their vehicles are limited or non-existent. Most of the press around this technology has been about personal use, but it should come as no surprise that similar applications are being developed in the transportation and logistics industry as well. It’s no stretch to say that the ability to use automated trucks could completely revolutionize the shipping and logistics industries.
This could come at a heavy price for those working in the trucking industries that have based their life around driving and being on the road. In this post we’ll look into the possibilities of automating the transportation industry by using driverless trucks and just what does such a future look like.
Driver-less Trucks – The Race to Innovate
In any given year over 3 million commercial trucks carry nearly 10 Billion Tons of cargo in the United States alone. What if computers – which never get tired, distracted or drowsy – could operate these vehicles to shoulder some or all of the work so that their human counterparts could be better rested and utilized when they actually do need to drive the rig.In addition to better labor utilization, these driver-less vehicles are expected to have better fuel efficiency, maintenance and safety.
To this end, companies like Daimler, Nissan, Freightliner and Caterpillar are busy working on truck prototypes that don’t need a human to operate them. While they refer to the newer technology as “Driver Assist” these cars all rely upon computers, a number of different sensors, and sophisticated GPS systems that are not readily available to the public. Each of these companies is racing to be the first with a fully compliant working truck. As of 2016, there are a bevy of companies that have preliminary approvals to drive on US Highway, like Freightliner (see below), which has the tentative approval to operate these driverless trucks on the roads in Nevada, so long as a real-life human being is in the driver’s seat.
Assessing a Driverless Truck World
At first, driver-assist trucks will be priced, making it unlikely that smallerlogistics companies will be investing in them without some serious research. The current estimated prices could pay an entire fleet for several years, and don’t include the possible price of replacements if something were to go wrong. Replacements are a real possibility, when no-one knows if these new vehicles will even last, tests currently don’t go back more than a decade, and the wear and tear that transportation style travel would cause has not been evaluated. This means that most companies wouldn’t be likely to invest at first.
However, big name companies who run standard routes, are looking to get their times down, and who can get everything they need done with just a few vehicles will likely invest in these from the start. These will be the companies that take on the risks, that can mix automation in with normal routes, and that will do internal studies on the actual efficiency of these trucks. These companies will essentially open the door for others to make their own decisions in an informed manner.
Once these vehicles have been available for a few years, we feel the industry will likely shift, with more and more companies going towards partial automation, and human labor focusing on other parts of the shipping process. This change over will likely be gradual, and will open up a number of new mechanical and technology related positions within transportation companies.
Going Driverless – Rules and Regs
While the development of driverless trucks is well underway, current State and Federal laws and regulations have a long way to go before wide spread use on the road is possible. The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) currently maintains five distinct classifications of autonomous vehicles:
Level 0 – No-Automation: Driver maintains complete control of the car or truck at all times
Level 1 – Function-specific Automation: Controls like brake-assist, kick in to aid the driver when sensing an emergency.
Level 2 – Combined Function Automation: This classification involves the full-automation of primary controls like steering and throttling, while giving control back to the driver at any time. Newer cars with “Lane Centering” technology enabled will automatically adjust steering to maintain the car in the center of the lane. The driver can easily take control of the functionality by simply using the steering wheel
Level 3 – Limited Driving Automation: At this level, a driver may grant full operational control to the vehicle under specific driving conditions (think normal highway driving), however under complicated driving scenarios like merging and city driving, the driver is expected to take over
Level 4 – Self-Driving Automation: A Level 4 classified vehicle will be one that will perform all driving automation with the expected input of destination from a driver or outside human entity. A driver can take control of the vehicle, but is not expected to during the course of the trip
Level 5 – Full Driving Automation, No Driver: This classification refers to a completely autonomous vehicle that is designed with no option for human interaction
Overall, driver-less trucks are the future, but, at least for now, they aren’t the doom and gloom bringer of the end of driver-based trucking that most people are worried about. More than likely, the technology will be used to assist drivers putting less stress on human workers, opening up new jobs, and ensuring better metrics, efficiency and lower costs.
With the push for cleaner burning Alternative Fuels, Bio-diesel has become an ever more popular source of fuel for motor vehicles, especially in the commercial transportation industry. In essence, biodiesel is a fuel with very similar characteristics as regular diesel fuel. The main difference is that rather than being refined from crude oil, bio-diesel is produced by refining renewable sources, mainly animal and vegetable fat/oil. An entire industry has been created for the direct supply of raw materials to bio energy production plants, with vast amounts of crops like corn and rape seed being produced for this very purpose.
There are many biodiesel fuel advantages including environmental impacts through lower CO2 emissions. But for a commercial truck driver environmental factors are not necessarily the primary reason to switch to a renewable fuel source. There are economic advantages as well that can have a very positive effect on operating costs. However, these have to be offset by some disadvantages that many people in the bio energy industry do not highlight as much as they should be.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what makes a fuel “Biodiesel” and cover the various advantages and disadvantages of using this fuel in the commercial trucking field.
What is Biodiesel Exactly?
Biodiesel is a renewable energy solution that is derived from substances like restaurant or diner grease, plant oils, animal fats and food-oil byproducts. Since the ignition / compression ratio for these bio-fuels are similar to that of petroleum-based diesel, biodiesel’s chemistry allow it be used in most diesel engines with little or no modifications.
Although the ignition properties are similar to standard diesel, biodiesel burns much cleaner. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, biodiesels can significantly reduce the emissions of ozone-depleting compounds such as carbon monoxide, sulfates, polycyclic aromatic, and nitrated polycyclic aromatic. Additionally biodiesel emissions are safer to breathe as particulate matter from exhaust has shown to be significantly reduced.
Biodiesel is available in the United States as a blend with standard diesel in a number of concentrations up to 100% biodiesel. These include:
B20 is considered the most common blend for use in North America and can now be found at most truck fueling locations in the United States. For an updated map of bio-fuel ready stations, check out this Bio-Diesel Retail Location Finder.
The Advantages of Biodiesel
1 – No Engine Reconfiguration
A standard Diesel engine will be suitable to run on bio diesel without any reconfiguration or modification. This means that you do not have to go through significant expenses and time off the road just to get ready for a switch to Biodiesel. However, you should check your vehicle’s warranty to see whether using alternative Diesel fuels will affect or void it.
2 – Engine Operation
Diesel engines by their design are fully reliant on the fuel for lubrication of internal engine parts and components. Without this lubrication the engine will very quickly deteriorate leading to reduced performance and eventually breakdowns.
Biodiesel has the fundamental characteristic of providing more lubricity than even standard Diesel fuel can provide. This is due to fuel regulations that gradually led to lower levels of lubricity in crude oil based diesel.
3 – Fuel Economy
Another one of the biodiesel fuel advantages is that you will see an increase in fuel economy. This means that you can save up to 30% on fuel intake, which means less stops for refilling and you can reduce one of the major operating costs of running a commercial truck.
1 – Low Temperature Environments
If you drive your truck in very cold temperatures then Biodiesel may not be the best solution. Dependent on the renewable raw material used in the refining process the fuel will gel at low temperatures which can cause significant engine problems. You can opt for a blend of biodiesel and winterized standard diesel fuel, but for the coldest months of the year it is probably best to avoid it.
2 – Clogging Of Filters
While biodiesel is a great lubricant and cleans harmful particles from the inner parts of the engine, this does result in diesel particle filters becoming clogged more often than they otherwise would. These filters will require more regular replacement and this can add to down time and maintenance costs.
3 – Quality Variation
Because the input material is sourced from different biofuel crops and locations there can be a significant variance in the quality. This can result in different levels of engine performance and therefore different levels of fuel economy. Buying from a reputable and large refining company can ensure a more stable level of quality over time.
The Jury’s Out on Biodiesel
What commercial drivers have to do is weigh the biodiesel fuel advantages against the disadvantages to see whether it makes economic and commercial sense to switch fuel types. The more fuel you use the more savings are available on your fuel bill. However, the increase in maintenance costs and potential added downtime has to be offset against those fuel economy gains.
Running a commercial rig ain’t cheap. Whether you’re an employee at a logistics firm or an independent owner / operator you’ll need to be hyper-aware of the cost of driving and maintaining your truck. Running a logistics operation can be profitable, but if you’re not on top of your costs,runaway expenses can kill a logistics business profitability nearly overnight. In this articles we’ll cover the typical costs involved with running a commercial truck, including fixed and variable costs. We’ll also share some good advice on how to save costs and ways to keep up on book keeping.
Fixed Cost Considerations
Fixed costs represent recurring expenses sustained by simply keeping your rig in service whether it’s driving or not. Typical logistics companies fixed costs include:
Ongoing rental costs
Licenses / Permits
By totaling these costs on an annualized basis, owners can parse the totals into monthly or weekly increments to determine the break-even point for maintaining the business. For example, it the total annual fixed costs of operation are $32,500 for a commercial rig, it takes $2708 per month or $625 per week of fixed costs to maintain the operation. Owners can then determine the net benefit of any individual run as well as the potential loss due to maintenance shutdowns or holdouts based on a more lucrative job.
Variable cost will directly fluctuate in accordance with the number of miles driven per truck. That being said, not all variable costs are created equal Many variable costs, like maintenance, will decrease per mile as the total number of driven miles increase. Fuel, on the other hand, will directly coincide with the number of miles driven and the price of fuel on the market. Typical variable costs for the logistics / trucking include:
Let’s take a minute and discuss the “king” of all variable costs – fuel. With all the talk of falling oil prices, fuel costs still reign supreme as the largest expense in commercial trucking, representing a whopping 35% – 40% of the TOTAL costs to operate a commercial truck. This critical cost factor can be a competitive advantage for costing a potential job if you can use more efficient diesel engine or fuels like a bio-fuel mix.
Next on the list of big costs is Maintenance. Typically representing around 7% – 10 % of total costs of operation, maintenance needs to be carefully considered and scheduled every year.
Profits / Salary for Drivers
If you own your rig, you’ll need to pay yourself with any leftover money after expenses. For business owner of logistic companies, driver have to be paid promptly for the work being done. Generally, salaries take up around 20 – 25%% of the expenses one is putting in. For businesses with a large payroll, you’ll need to understand there are multiple levels of experienced driver out there, and each one will have his or her salaries. Seasoned drivers will take more than new ones, but there are benefits in going with the experienced hand. The chances of short-term troubles (i.e. accidents) popping up with an experienced driver can make it worthwhile to foot the bill and pay more.
Heavy-duty trucks are large like the heavy dump trucks and concrete pump trucks and capable of transporting huge weights of cargo. These trucks are a very important leg in the transportation industry as they are movers of large quantities or products or materials no small vehicle can do on land. There are many uses of these trucks including towing and moving houses, delivery and transport and recovery of disabled and stranded vehicles.
Towing: Business owners, companies and government agencies that use a large number of vehicles to operate more often have their own towing services to move vehicles when they get disabled on the road. They are the school bus companies, package couriers, police and fire departments, garbage collectors, taxi companies, bus companies, the automotive industry and the farm industry.
Moving: A heavy duty truck come in-demand when you change your home location and you need to bring everything with you. Large appliances, all pieces of furniture, and all! It can stand all the weight because one is able to transport more than the combined weight of all your home belongings. Moving a tiny house is also easy using a truck.
Hauling: Do you need to pull or transport something heavy over a long distance? You need a heavy duty hauling truck. It is equipped with a heavy-duty hook & chain made for hauling heavy objects. Starting building contractors without owned hauling trucks could find these trucks from Chemomemtum for many of their necessities in construction. You can rely on the truck’s reputation of its ability to lift, pull and load heavy materials.
Delivery/Transport: Soft drinks & beverages, and liquors & beers are transported by heavy duty trucks contained in long delivery trailers with roll-up doors. They travel long distances and arriving in destinations with products in good condition. Groceries and other products from the manufacturers’ plants are delivered using these trucks also. Animals in cages are loaded in trucks to transport them. In what size of a truck can an elephant fit in or what kind of truck can tow a trailer with this huge animal? It must be a heavy duty truck!
Garbage Collection & Recycling: Garbage trucks or trash trucks are specially built to collect garbage and haul it to a landfill or to a solid waste incineration facility. There are a few types of this truck. The front loader, rear loader and the side loader; well it tells where each would load the waste collected. The catch is – they are heavy duty to be able to do such heavy work continuously.
Heavy Duty Trucks Are Tough
If you use a standard hand truck to move heavy objects, there is possibility that it would break; it would further delay work. Most heavy-duty trucks are built with large engines and strong transmissions because they are meant to do heavy work particularly on job sites. They can load large pieces and pull heavy load of materials. A heavy duty can give assurance that even the toughest job can be carried out without an issue
They Are Time and Cost Effective
Reliability of the truck equates with lesser time and cost to transport. You don’t need many trips because the truck can accommodate that much load without breaking down on the road. Less likely if you use smaller trucks. Work can be accomplished in time or earlier than programmed. Labor cost is minimized. Saving in time, fuel and labor cost is an advantage to a business owner these days that all prices keep skyrocketing.