NASHVILLE. Marking its 10th anniversary here at the 2014 Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) annual meeting, the WheelTime Network plans to help spur the wider adoption of “dual-fuel” truck technology developed by American Power Group that can operate on both natural gas and diesel in order to alleviate concerns refueling and range while helping fleets cut down on fuel expenses.

“The use of natural gas is key to improving fuel savings, but there are problems that are slowing the transition and general adoption,” noted Mike Delaney, WheelTime’s president and CEO, during a press conference.

“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,” he explained.

That’s why he believes dual-fuel technology provides an opening for fleets to displace diesel fuel use with natural while minimizing costly side effects. That’s the cornerstone of WheelTime’s new “No Limits” initiative to help fleets retrofit dual-fuel technology to existing trucks or acquire glider kits prepped with dual-fuel engines and fuel systems.

“Today, customers are reporting 15 to 20 cents per mile savings with dual-fuel. This is significant and we think that it can be much higher,” Delaney said. “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.”

He added that WheelTime – founded in 2004 by 17 principal owners of 200 Detroit Diesel and Allison Transmission service facilities – is also expanding its use of the Cojali Jaltest multi-brand diagnostic tool, adopted in 2010, to help its locations further improve their all-makes total truck repair capability.

The company is also expanding its WheelTime Fleet Services (WFS) repair and preventative maintenance program to further integrate online billing and estimating along with historic data on each asset and fleet specific maintenance protocols to achieve agreed upon goals of service speed, consistency and accuracy.

By “compressing” multiple maintenance events into a single visit, said Delaney, WheelTime believes its helping reduce total time out of service for truck.

“Also critical today is CSA {Compliance Safety Accountability program] compliance and, maybe not surprisingly, the most common repairs needed are DOT related,” he added. “Inconsistent preventative maintenance practices along with inadequate record keeping and systems that don’t talk to each other don’t just make it hard to stay on top of things, it can shut fleets down.”