Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My first 10 days with the ScangaugeKR

Ok I thought I would give a few observations I have had with how using the new ScangaugeKR has changed my numbers for the better.

To be able to do a decent comparison for the 10 day period I went and looked at my numbers for the time period of May 18-28th in 2011, and 2012 to compare the difference with the numbers since I have installed the gauge.

Back in 2011 for that time period I averaged 6.77 mpg.  All but one of my fuel ups showed light loads with there being a total of 7 fuel ups for that time period.

In 2012 for that time period  I averaged 6.54 mpg.  All but one of my fuel ups were heavy loads pulling the hills from Illinois to Oklahoma.  At that time I was running on our dedicated Lowes account so I had a consistent route.  I showed 5 fuel tickets for that time period.

These last 10 days I averaged 7.00 mpg.  I showed 3 heavy tickets, one medium and the others light.  I had 8 tickets for that time period.  I made multiple trips through the Appalachian mountains with both heavy and light loads.

Taking that into consideration, I have to say in the last 10 days on average my fuel mileage has increased by 4/10 of a mile when comparing them to the other two periods.  It could be more than that when you really think about it.

Another thing I discovered since I put in a few of the PID codes the manufacturer sent back to me is I can now tell when my truck is doing a passive regen while driving down the road.  I watch my DPF temperature. I have found it runs up to 1100 degrees in a cycle that can last up to 30 minutes.  When this happens I notice a pretty good drop in fuel mileage of up to 2/10 even if your on nice even flat ground.  So a person just has to keep this in mind when they are running and know they have to make that ground back up.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The ScanGaugeKR my thoughts on it

I have recently purchased Kevin Rutherford's ScanGaugeKR to put in my truck and help me with my fuel mileage.

Installation was extremely easy, all you have to do really is once you figure out where you want it, plug the cable into the diagnostic plug on the truck and your off.

This device reads all of the sensor data that is sent to your ECM on your truck.  There is a pretty straightforward way to pull the codes for all of your sensors, send them in, and the company that makes this gets back with you in a day or so with the codes to be able to program your ScanGauge to show the values on those sensors.

For example I don't have a boost gauge on my truck, but with this device I can now monitor it and a myriad of other gauges or sensors I couldn't before.  Also as new and more refined programming for it is made, it is not a hard process to upgrade it with the latest stuff.

Kevin found and refined this product to help drivers improve their fuel mileage, pure and simple, and so far I can tell I am going to get back a whole lot more on my investment.

It is said that the difference between a very good driver and a bad driver is 35% on fuel mileage.  What that means is that for example a bad driver has a 6 mpg average, a very good driver should have 8.1 mpg.  That is a staggering 2.1 mpg difference which is a huge savings in fuel cost.

I thought I was a pretty good driver.  Heck, I've been out here since '93 so I should know the ropes right?  After putting this gauge on I quickly discovered I wasn't driving my truck even remotely close to its fuel savings potential.

The first thing I discovered is that the Cruise Control is NOT your friend.  It's fine on the nice flat ground but in the gentle rolling hills, that thing is a FUEL HOG!!!!  I shutter to think how much fuel I wasted by setting that cruise and letting the truck run.  Yeah, its easy, and lazy to do it that way but very inefficient.  By taking a proactive approach in driving in the hills, lightly accelerating on the downhill and build speed, let momentum take you up, then just ease into the throttle, no more than 2/3 keeping the boost under half of its total load, saves fuel.  Yes you might have to grab an extra gear a time or two but the fuel savings I am seeing will be huge.

Another thing that eats the fuel are those wonderful 'Jake Brakes' or engine compression brakes.  What do you mean?  Aren't you using the engine to slow the truck down with those?  Yes you are, but when they are fully on it was kicking my boost up over 2/3 to 3/4 of the max, which means more boost burns more fuel.

I'll admit, I was being lazy leaving the Jakes on to slow the truck down for just basic items, not just for long downhills.  I quickly discovered how much I think that was costing me too.

I know there is an old truckers adage out there, 'use your Jake Brakes to save your brake shoes so they last longer.'  The problem with this is that your costing yourself quite a bit more in fuel than the simple and relatively cheap cost to replace those brake shoes.  I'm willing to bet there is no comparison in the numbers on how much you are really losing.

Kevin advertises that you should be able to see a 3/10 of a mile change within the first week of really trying to improve your driving with this device, and by the end of the month you should see close to 5/10 of a mile change.  If not, he will buy it back no questions asked.

But do you know what Kevin?  Your not ever getting mine back.... ever lol.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

First job....what was it?

I was listening to one of the many radio commentators from the Road Dog Channel on my XM radio and he asked a pretty cool question.

What was your first job?  What memories do you have from it?  The calls he got were pretty neat and informative so I thought I would blog about mine.

Well, my first job was running the tractor on the family farm.  I have very fond memories as I was growing up, going clear back to when I was 5 about life on the farm around my dad and grandpa.

I remember when they would set me in front of them and let me steer the tractor or combine, which for a little kid was pretty fun.  What I didn't know was the great work ethic that they were slowly teaching me over the years.

I started to drive the tractor by myself when I was 12 years old.  Not only did I drive the tractor but I drove one of the work pick ups (that had a stick shift in it, gotta love that).  I would get up early in the morning, eat breakfast, pack a lunch and drinks in a cooler and hit the road.  Most of the fields were only 2-3 miles down the road from the house on county roads so I wasn't hardly on the main highway...whistles....

I would get to the tractor, fuel and service it and whatever I was pulling at the time, whether it was a disk, plow, spring tooth, sweeps etc.  Everything was greased and checked.  You didn't want anything to break down because that would cause a serious delay to the work, along with you helping in the repairs.

I would spend 10-14 hours on that tractor.  At times I thought I didn't like it, but I look back and realize that was that rebellious teenager speaking out.  If we still had the farm operation going, that is where I know I would be right now getting ready for harvest.  I do miss those days.

The first job I had outside of the farm was when I was 16 (and had a drivers license lol).  I worked as a park attendant at Little Sahara State Park outside of Waynoka.  It is over 1600 acres of sand dunes, trails etc that people would take their 4 wheelers, dune buggies, 4x4s and whatever else they could come up with out on the sand to play.  I did that all summer up to when school started.  The strange thing though was that I would work 8 hours at the dunes, go home, and then go out to the field to give my brother or dad a break from running the tractor so I still helped with the farm work.

I have to say that the farm did help develop me into the hard,(sometimes overworking) person that I am today.  It would be interesting to have a job where you only work 8 hours a day but I can count on one hand how many jobs I've had like that.  I found out that I got bored too easy with a job like that so who knows.  Truck driving really fit me well when I started considering the background I came from.  That's probably why I like it so much lol.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A companies bonus programs, or lack thereof

This something I have noticed recently and it is pretty interesting.  You have some companies that have some great bonus programs and others that have hardly any.

When you compare the performance of these companies you notice a huge difference.

For example, one company MVT, has a great series of bonus programs for their drivers.  The results show that they have a pretty good CSA record, and their trucks average over 8 mpg.  That is a lot of money saved with fuel alone.

The company I drive for could set up a series of programs for both their company drivers and owner operators.  Here is what I thought of.

A quarterly bonus program if the truck reaches a set goal on fuel mileage.  Just as an example lets set this at 250 dollars.

A quarterly bonus program for safety.  A driver who has no accidents or critical events is a safe driver.  Again set it at 250 dollars.

A monthly bonus program for miles driven.  Depending on how many a driver has on a sliding scale could determine how much they get.

The thing about it a driver could make in the course of a year say 3-4 thousand extra dollars by doing nothing more than being safe, driving efficiently and planning well to get more miles.  What this does for the company is that it will give them a safer driver, reducing accident claims, more revenue with the fuel savings, and more revenue with the miles driven.

As far as an owner operator, you could go with the safety program with them.  The other program with the owner operators that you could do would be a program on not being late on pick up or deliveries.  Again these programs would lower the accident claims, and help enhance the customer relations with the shippers and receivers.

Although someone is probably thinking that the company is spending money on these type of programs they actually come out way ahead in the long run.  Programs that help lower outside insurance claims, help create safer drivers, save fuel, and money and help improve relations pay out in many ways.  Just the savings on the fuel would pay for the programs and still leave the company with a good sized profit margin just on those savings.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Construction Season....

I have to say at times it seems like there are only two seasons for a truck driver, winter, and construction season.

Now don't get me wrong, I know that our roads and bridges need to be maintained....but....

Yes you knew there was going to be a but in there.  My biggest 'pet peeve' is when a state, oh such as Ohio sets up LONG construction zones which really hinder traffic flow.  The thing is, you really can't tell what the hell they are doing to improve the road to be honest.  They had 5, yes 5 in a 200 mile stretch.  Now that doesn't sound like much, but when these zones can stretch for 10 miles per zone, it adds up quick.

I mean heck, between rush hour in Chicago and all of the construction zones that were on I80, I averaged 54.5 miles per hour.  The problem is that I had my cruise set on 68.  Now I know you can't average the speed you set your cruise on, but a 13.5 mile difference??  Normally it is a 5-8 mile difference when you average it out.  That's how bad the construction zone season is looking this year.  If you have any time critical loads, (which I do) you have to totally readjust your trip planning.  That's all fine and dandy, but if the companies glorious Load Planners don't do the same, drivers are going to get really screwed over on their times.

Back to my pet peeve, I think there should only be ONE major construction zone every 100 miles, and they can't start another until the project is finished.  Oh the state has a lot of projects?  Well lets put this neat little thing called a 'timetable' on these zones and penalize the hell out of the companies that can't deliver on time.  It's a simple matter of economics, reward those that finish on time or ahead of schedule and body slam those that drag their feet on projects.  Those of us that use the roads are paying for this stuff, literally, through various taxes, lets see some actual progress boys.

Communication, how important it is...

Today was yet another day here in transportation that really shows me how important GOOD communication is.

You see there is a huge difference between communication and 'good' communication.  I'll give you an example.

I have a load that is scheduled to pick up at 1pm today.   I got a message at 12:15 that it was ready so I head to the receiver.

When I get to the receiver there seems to be some confusion as to when this load should be ready.  At first, their schedule shows that it won't load til 2200 (10pm) tonite.  Uh, nope it better not be.  They then start to check further and see that it was a load that was rescheduled to load today at 1pm....but......  It's not ready.  I'm not sure if the load is even pulled and staged yet.  Where I'm at they have to do this to verify that everything is correct.  So here I sit with a pager waiting for them to let me know when it will be ready.

This is a prime example of sloppy communication.  I'm sure someone might have called and was told the load was ready, but did they verify the fact?  Did they talk to the right person for the information.  It seems that the customer service side with the company has been slipping.  I realize that I too perform customer service as a driver, but I can only do so much.  Where do our office people think they get their paycheck from? The tooth fairy?  I swear most don't consider the fact that if the load gets screwed up and I can't take it I can't get paid.  If I can't get paid, they don't get paid.  It's called a circle people, your in the circle so quit screwing up things to where it gets broken, then wonder where the business is going.

Another thing that our office people don't realize is that delays like this COST.  My 14 hour clock for my logbook started this morning when I went and unloaded at my last customer.  Right now I have 2 1/2 hours to be loaded which will leave me with barely enough time to reach the next customer and deliver, on time.  If they take more than 2 1/2 hours, they will either have to reschedule the load or get someone to take it in the rest of the way.  I wish corporate would EDUCATE our customer service reps and load planners that we are on some tight time margins now with electronic logs.  We can't 'fudge' them like you could with paper logs in the old days so accurate pick up and delivery times is now critical.

Like I said, communication is a huge key to all of this, and its easy to spot where the failures are.