Valley Farms, a Williamsport, Pa.-based unit of Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Buffalo, N.Y., is said to be one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the United States. The provider of fresh milk to customers in Pennsylvania and New York operates 46 tractors, 56 refrigerated trailers and 10 refrigerated trucks.
Challenge—to improve efficiency and lower costs by coaching drivers in fuel saving behaviors
Recognizing it could improve the fuel economy of its fleet, Valley Farms worked with its drivers to limit idle time at deliveries and sought a means of providing them with real-time coaching to improve shifting and speed control behaviors.
While its tractors are equipped with automated manual transmissions, the fleet’s managers identified the need to help drivers more effectively regulate the throttle, so the truck could shift gears at the most efficient point in the engine’s power curve.
Larry Gardner, a tractor-trailer driver for Valley Farms who covers 300 miles daily making direct-store deliveries in eastern Pennsylvania, was interested in improving his fuel efficiency, and sought out coaching from his manager.
Valley Farms, along with other Upstate Niagara operations, installed the Vnomics True Fuel optimization solution from Vnomics, Pittsford, N.Y., to reduce fuel consumption by improving driver performance in real time. The company uses True Fuel to identify and quantify a driver’s impact on fuel savings and coach them to change behaviors that waste fuel.
Vnomics True Fuel establishes a truck’s potential fuel economy independent of route, load and other external factors, and then assists drivers to achieve that full potential through in-vehicle driver coaching. The scoring model includes assessments of driver fuel efficiency in engine control, speeding and idling. These three key fuel waste behaviors are rolled into a fair and balanced composite GPA-like assessment of the driver’s real-world fuel efficiency performance that is automatically normalized for operating conditions.
The Vnomics True Fuel solution is also being used at Valley Farms to provide incentives to drivers based on their fuel savings and to foster competition among drivers to save fuel.
Results—lowering fuel use by more than 10%
With True Fuel in the entire Valley Farms fleet, which travels 1.3 million miles annually, the company realized overall savings of 10-12% in fuel use. Across the operation, the company reports that drivers are steadily improving their efficiency scores with others approaching Gardner’s near perfect performance. With those savings, Valley Farms realized a return on its investment in True Fuel in less than one year.
Using True Fuel to improve his shifting technique, Gardner raised his fuel efficiency score from 88% in April 2017 to 99.99% over 60,002 miles during the first eight months of this year. The savings he generated for Valley Farms averages 1,400 gallons annually, lowering the fleet’s fuel cost by more than $4,000.
To be sure the truck Gardner was driving was configured correctly because of how much more fuel efficient he was than his peers, Valley Farms switched the tractor he was operating for another unit and found that Gardner was equally efficient and that the vehicle was not a factor.