Unfortunately, hybrid vehicles do not suit every route that Veritable Vegetable services. To run the longer routes, the company utilizesT660s with Eaton UltraShift Plus automated mechanical transmissions (AMT). One of these trucks, Howard says, is a 2012 model that is achieving around 7 mpg, which is up nearly a full mpg over a 13-spd. manual transmission truck it replaced. While Howard cautions that it’s impossible to draw any conclusions since the trucks are different makes and models, and were not driven by the same driver under the same conditions, he is nonetheless pleased with the performance.
Adams adds that while the automated transmissions have been a benefit in many respects, the most positive aspect of them has been in driver comfort. “Mechanically they’ve been very reliable,” she says. “The drivers have had no trouble adapting to them. I have one driver who has a back injury and he’s very comfortable because he doesn’t have to shift. I have another who [has had rotator cuff problems] and he, too, is more comfortable because he’s not always shifting.” On its long-haul tractors, VV employs battery-powered auxiliary power units (APUs), Webasto Product North America diesel heaters, and are equipped with idle shutdown technology to turn off the engines after 3 min. of idle time.
Green technologies don’t just permeate the truck and tractor fleet, they are also a vital part of the trailer inventory. VV has 17 refrigerated trailers, nine of which are 48-ft. units. Mostly comprised of Utility Trailer VS2RA models, the fleet includes Carrier Transicold Vector 6500 hybrid refrigeration units installed on 10 of the trailers.
The Vector 6500 is a single-temperature all-electric unit that produces very little noise, according to Carrier Transicold. The company points out that the units, when operating in standby operation, eliminate engine emissions from the refrigeration unit, conserve fuel, and reduce operating costs by 40 to 70%. According to Howard, each unit runs about 2,800 hours per year, making the hybrid technology a perfect fit. Going beyond hybrid refrigeration, Veritable Vegetable outfitted its entire 48-ft. trailer fleet with ATDynamics’ trailer skirts. The skirts, which VV tested for a year, cost the company about $1,700 apiece and provide a $1,300 savings each per year, Howard says.
“[Installation] was done because we had a skirt on one trailer and we pulled it for about 90,000 mi. It was pulled by different tractors and different drivers, and we got a 3% improvement across the board,” he points out. Fully installed, Veritable Vegetable is saving about 4,775 gals. of fuel per year just by using the skirts.
The trailers, like the entire fleet, run on Bridgestone lowprofile 22.5-in. tires with Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions FuelTech recaps. To keep those tires properly inflated, Veritable Vegetable employs the Meritor Tire Inflation System (MTIS) by PSI, maintaining 100 psi at all times. MTIS uses compressed air from the trailer’s air system to inflate any tire that falls below a preset pressure whenever the vehicle is in operation.
To further cut down on wind resistance, the fleet installed the Deflecktor, a wheel insert that reduces wind resistance, on its trailer’s wheels. To show how Howard and Adams leave no stone unturned in their quest for improvement, Howard relates he first learned of the Deflecktor when seeing it profiled in a magazine. After investigating, he quickly became a believer in the device.