Direction Jan Feb 2014 - (Page 36)

ARPIN AIMS TO DRIVE DOWN FLEET COSTS WITH SOLAR POWER JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2014 BY JOHN BISNEY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Direction 36 Reducing fuel consumption is near or at the top of the list for any fleet operator trying to cut costs. The Arpin Group has been conducting a unique pilot program for the past year to lower fuel expenses by integrating solar power technology into-although primarily on top of-some of its trucks and trailers, a move that also has environmental benefits. Based in West Warwick, R.I., Arpin Group includes Arpin Van Lines and Arpin International, both prominent relocation companies with extensive fleets. Its newest subsidiary is Arpin Renewable Energy, a research and development company that explores and produces green alternatives that can be applied to the moving industry (Arpin already operates a warehouse with a roof covered in solar panels that generate 175,000 kilowatts). In 2013, Arpin began a partnership with another Rhode Island-based company, eNow, which integrates solar technology into trucks. In simple terms, the result is solar-powered, onboard auxiliary power units. The units can store and provide electricity for no-idle HVAC systems, lift gates, safety lighting and more. The team has been testing about 10 different vehicles in various weather conditions to find the optimum setup. The solar panels providing the juice are mounted on a trailer's sizeable roof, sending electricity to four lithium storage batteries, which then distribute it to features in the truck. However, most of the vehicles' accessories, such as liftgates, can be operated solely on solar power. "That basic design-feeding the battery system that then provides power on demand-means less idling," says Jeff Flath, president and chief executive officer of eNow, "The system could also capture electricity Solar panels attached to the roof of the trailer power no-idle HVAC systems, lift gates, safety lighting and more. The cost is recouped in about 18 months and saves Arpin as much as $12,000 per year per truck. like regenerative brakes [do] and let the unit use it on demand." Assuming the panels produce 14 watts per square foot, the space on top of a 53-foot trailer could generate as much as 6,000 watts. In comparison, the cab's HVAC system typically draws between 800 and 900 watts. But the real benefit is that the excess power can reduce the parasitic load on the alternator. Flath says 6,000 watts translate into a potential 4 percent fuel savings, which could mean a minimum of $4,500 in fuel savings annually. This savings is in addition to the quick return on investment, with costs recouped in about 18 months, on applications such as in-cab HVAC. Arpin has seen savings of $8,000 to $12,000 per year on the trucks with eNow's systems. "The cost of this technology continues to come down, and its efficiency gets better," says Flath. "We've always found we're generating more power than we use, and we hope to eventually take the complete load off the alternator." The benefits continue, of course, when the van operator stops for the night or in other circumstances when the engine might otherwise be needed. Truckers usually idle their vehicles overnight to run their in-cab entertainment and HVAC systems. But eNow's system lets drivers shut down their diesel engines and instead draw power from the batteries, something that's becoming increasingly required by local anti-idling regulations. The system offers another benefit for trucks operating in colder climates: The stored electricity can activate a de-icing system, saving the need to remove ice and snow from the trailer or face fines. Flath says eNow is considering integrating sensors to activate heaters to prevent snow and ice buildup from the start. Arpin also sees reduced greenhouse gas emissions as an important byproduct. "Arpin Van Lines has been testing these systems on its moving trucks for the past two years, and we have witnessed significant cost savings," said Peter Arpin, president of Arpin Renewable Energy. "We want our agents across the country to be among the first adopters of this technology and become a model for other transportation industries to follow." Flath eventually envisions a diesel-electric hybrid, or even a fully electric motor for tractors, but for the near future, Peter Arpin's goal is to provide Arpin Van Lines agents and owner-operators with access to moving trucks that cost less to operate and help the environment. n

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Direction Jan Feb 2014

From the President
Industry News
Penske Trucks
News Briefs
In Memoriam
International Update
State Line
What's New at AMSA
Fall Board and Committee Reports
Safety Conference Wrap-up
Annual Conference Heads to San Diego
New Members
Office Max
Movers & Shakers
Ready to Grow
Going Green
Driving Down Fleet Costs With Solar Power
Regulatory Affairs
Advertisers' Index
On the Hill
Product Portfolio
Fast Facts

Direction Jan Feb 2014