What does it take to create a truly green fleet?

The trucking industry has taken several steps toward increasing the efficiency of the transportation process amid a growing national interest in combating the negative effects of climate change. Tools such as logistics software have enabled managers to run their operations more smoothly and with a limited amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to 2007 data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), automobile transportation accounts of for nearly 30 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions within the country. Medium and heavy-duty trucks are responsible for more than 19 percent of that total. The only sector of the economy responsible for more collective greenhouse gas emissions is electricity generation, the data indicated.

The use of alternative fuels and other strategies intended to limit pollution from trucks has significantly reduced these numbers in recent years. However, a report from Automotive Fleet, a magazine covering the automotive fleet leasing and management industry, found the next best step companies can take to increase efficiency is to encourage drivers to alter their road behavior.

While many of the most common initiatives used to limit pollution and curb greenhouse gas emissions in the trucking industry are effective, they also clash with the overall goals of most fleet operations to a certain extent. For example, Automotive Fleet said managers who are overly concerned with fuel conservation often end up running into production problems in which they feel they are unable to transport goods despite the steady growth in demand.

What's usually more worthwhile, the magazine said, is a focus on cost-efficiency and driver behavior. In fact, many prominent businesses with large fleets have found success implementing so-called "eco-driving" initiatives. These strategies include minimizing idling time, accelerating less aggressively, maintaining steady speeds, easing off the accelerator before braking and using air conditioning units more sparingly. Automotive Fleet cited a recent study from Isuzu, a commercial vehicle manufacturer based in Japan, that found such initiatives can reduce fuel consumption by 1,200 gallons per individual trucks that average 35,000 miles per year.

The role of trucking software
Fleet managers can supplement these eco-driving initiatives with automated tools that further enhance the efficiency of operations. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is about much more than limiting the negative effects of climate change. In fact, a more conservative approach to using fuel can significantly lower overhead costs and ultimately lead to greater revenue.