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Business: Transportation

Case Study:The Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada's Star Truck Project

Contents

1. Introduction

The Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERIC) is a private, non-profit research and development organization whose goal is to improve Canadian forestry operations related to the harvesting and transportation of wood and the growing of trees, within a framework of sustainable development. FERIC is funded through a growing partnership of leading forestry companies, federal and provincial governments and the governments of the Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory.

FERIC's research, which is field-oriented and carried out in close cooperation with woodlands personnel, focuses on transportation and roads, wood harvesting, silviculture, small-scale operations and engineering design/specialized technologies. Members are informed of the results of this work through publications, videos, slide presentations, seminars and other events.

In 1999, FERIC launched a research project to demonstrate to the Canadian forest industry how better vehicle spec'ing, using commercially available technologies, can optimize log haul operations, reduce fuel consumption and environmental impacts and improve the mechanical availability of their equipment. This Star Truck Project involves two major elements:

  • the demonstration and monitoring of trucks equipped with the latest technologies and designs in actual field operations
  • a knowledge and technology transfer initiative to inform forestry stakeholders of the results of the demonstration project and the benefits of better vehicle specification

This report provides information on preliminary results from the Star Truck Project, which is ongoing. Section 2 provides a detailed description of the project and the rationale for the study. The project methodology is identified in Section 3. Sections 4 and 5 report on the first two Star Truck demonstration projects, and Section 6 looks at ongoing activities. Section 7 lists partners in the Star Truck Project as of March 2002.

2. Rationale for the Star Truck Project

Transportation is a huge cost for the forest industry. In fact, transportation costs are now equivalent to, if not greater than, the costs of harvesting timber. With haul distances expected to increase in the future, transportation activities will likely have an even greater impact on the competitiveness of Canada's vital forest industry.

Fuel and lubricants account for about 25 percent of overall forestry transportation costs, compared with labour at 35 percent, ownership at 25 percent and maintenance at 15 percent. Fuel consumption is therefore an important consideration in any project to reduce transportation costs. Equally important is the need to increase revenues by increasing truck availability or maximizing payload (or through some combination of the two).

Figure 1: Ventilation of the costs of transport of the forest industry
Figure 1: Ventilation of the costs of transport of the forest industry

The goals of reduced fuel consumption and increased revenues can be achieved in several ways, none of which should be overlooked:

  • Better truck specification. Trucks can be spec'ed to achieve maximum mechanical efficiency in certain operating conditions, thus lowering fuel consumption for a given task. Better truck specification also leads to lower maintenance costs and reduced waste (e.g., tires and oil).

  • Improved vehicle efficiency. Reducing cycle times, non-productive hours and idling time are all important strategies for improving vehicle efficiency.

  • Maximizing payload. Keeping vehicle tare (unloaded) weight to a minimum allows for more payload to be carried without exceeding the provincially regulated gross vehicle weight, thus generating more revenue per trip and allowing more product to be transported per litre (L) of fuel consumed.

The technology transfer challenge

Vehicle and equipment manufacturers are continuously developing new technologies to optimize truck performance. Although some of these technologies require additional research and development, others are readily available, have been widely proven in field operations and can be immediately applied in the forest industry. For these latter technologies, the challenge lies not in performance and reliability, but in increasing trucker awareness of their availability and encouraging their adoption.

This is a particular challenge for Canada's forest industry. Over the years, in an effort to reduce transportation costs, large forestry companies have come to rely on contractors (owner-operators) to haul their products. Although this strategy has proven effective in reducing costs, it has also produced some negative side effects in terms of technology transfer:

  • The forest trucking industry is now made up of many small companies with limited financial resources and little communication between operators. These contractors lack the financial capacity to "experiment" with new technologies and equipment, which means that the industry is slow to implement transportation innovations.

  • Due to their reliance on contract haulers, large forestry companies have no recent records on actual trucking costs and no baseline data that can help them to identify potential areas for improvement.

These problems are resulting in missed opportunities to save significant transportation costs, thereby offsetting the financial benefits the forest industry obtained by transferring trucking operations to small contractors.

Objectives of the Star Truck Project

FERIC is endeavouring to address this technology transfer challenge through the Star Truck Project, in partnership with large Canadian forestry companies, haul contractors, vehicle and equipment manufacturers and others. The project aims to improve the efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of forestry trucking operations by demonstrating how truckers can:

  • optimize vehicle specifications

  • increase vehicle payload

  • improve vehicle efficiency and mechanical availability

  • decrease vehicle emissions per unit of product transported

Toward this end, tractor-trailer rigs spec'ed for peak productivity and fuel efficiency are put into operation hauling logs for forestry companies. The performance of these vehicles is monitored over a two-year period and compared with a control truck in the same fleet. Results of the demonstration projects are then made available throughout the Canadian forest industry.

FERIC has designed the Star Truck Project for maximum impact. One way this is being achieved is by targeting forestry companies that have operations from British Colombia to Atlantic Canada. FERIC believes these companies, after testing a Star Truck in their operations, will recognize the merits of this approach and will require contract haulers to specify certain features when buying new equipment. Thereby, they are encouraging technology transfer and influencing others in the industry to follow suit. Also participating in the project are leading Canadian equipment manufacturers. As well as giving the research results added credibility, they can support effective communication and application of the results.

The Star Truck Project has a budget of approximately $700,000 over four years. This includes the cost of purchasing two trucks with trailers and outfitting them with selected components, developing computer tools to assist the spec'ing process, and conducting research, monitoring and technology transfer work. The private sector partners are providing two-thirds of this funding, with the balance coming from Transport Canada (the Moving On Sustainable Transportation [MOST] Program) and the Ministère des Ressources naturelles du Québec.

3. Project Origins and Methodology

The Star Truck Project has its origins in a request by Tembec Inc., one of Canada's prominent integrated forest product companies, for assistance in reducing its haul costs. After reviewing Tembec's operations, FERIC determined that average vehicle tare weights were quite high. Discussions with the company led to the idea of building a truck that would incorporate special features to reduce tare weight and improve fuel efficiency while ensuring good performance in difficult forest conditions. Other government and private sector partners were recruited, and the Star Truck Project was born.

FERIC recognized that the Star Truck Project, to be successful, required the participation of forestry companies that:

  • have operations across Canada

  • have the capacity to help develop and demonstrate new technologies

  • are willing to collaborate with contract haulers to specify the optimal truck

  • will be motivated to use the demonstrated technologies in their own operations

  • can provide financial incentives to encourage contractors to convert their vehicles

  • by their example, can influence the rest of the industry in this direction

With annual sales exceeding $3 billion and operations in New Brunswick, Québec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia (as well as in France and the United States), Tembec is such a firm. One of its key corporate objectives is to protect the environment while creating long-term social, cultural and economic benefits for local communities, employees and shareholders.

As a first step, Tembec was asked to identify company divisions that would benefit most from the demonstration project and thus would be motivated to participate. Two divisions were targeted, both operating in Québec. Each of these divisions was then asked to identify a haul contractor who might be interested in participating in the project. This was an important step in the process, as the haul contractors would need to make a major investment in a new truck equipped with unfamiliar components. Moreover, the contractors would be asked for confidential financial information and would be deeply involved in the two-year monitoring process (e.g., by providing verbal feedback and regularly e-mailing information downloaded from the on-board computer).

FERIC met with the selected contractors to review the details of the project, at which time one of the contractors declined to participate. A replacement contractor was recruited, and the project received the go-ahead.

Methodology

The following methodology is used for each Star Truck application

Step 1: Establishing the current situation

The company's log haul operation is examined to establish the types of vehicles currently in use, the products hauled and the road network travelled (i.e., the combination of forest road, gravel road and highway travel).

Step 2: Identifying the potential for cost-savings

for each proposed component of the truck. Opportunities for improvement are identified, with no initial limitations based on cost or technology. This is followed by a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of each proposed improvement to determine its technical and financial feasibility.

Step 3: Specifying the Star Truck

The fuel economy, vehicle efficiency, financial and safety benefits of various equipment and technologies are evaluated, taking into account the truck owner's needs and operational constraints. Final decision are made on all elements of the rig – from the tires and suspension to the trailer configuration, engine size and cab design – leading to an optimally spec'ed truck for the task and operating conditions.

Step 4: Implementing the technology

A truck is purchased and equipped according to the spec's identified in Step 3. This is done in close cooperation with the vehicle owner and his or her automotive technician. FERIC ensures that all parties involved in the implementation stage of the project are well-informed and properly trained to operate and/or maintain the chosen technologies.

Step 5: Tracking the vehicle's performance

Once in operation, the Star Truck is closely monitored for two years. Over the same period, the performance of a "control" truck, selected to represent the fleet average, is also monitored. This enables the project team to identify and substantiate any differences in performance between the two vehicles. Weekly reports are produced to inform the contractor and the forest company about the performance and operating costs of both vehicles. This helps maintain contractor enthusiasm throughout the project and enables FERIC to react quickly when sub-optimal performances are identified.

4. Implementation of the First Star Truck

The first Star Truck was put into service in Tembec's forestry operation in Nouvelle, Québec, in June 1999. At the time, the typical vehicle being used in the company's haul operation was a Class 8 tandem and four-axle semi-log trailer, with a combined average tare weight of about 22 000 kilograms (kg). The contractor's fleet consisted of eight trucks. Both Tembec and the contractor selected to participate in the demonstration project believed the haul operation could be more efficient if greater attention was given to spec'ing trucks.

Spec'ing the truck

As the first step in the spec'ing process, the haul contractor was asked to develop a specification sheet for a new truck, taking into account operating conditions, finances and other factors. FERIC analysed the proposed specifications and then developed its own spec sheet to illustrate how certain upgrades, additions or changes in components would affect the truck's performance and operating costs.

The costs and benefits associated with each of FERIC's proposals were discussed at length with the contractor and Tembec officials. Since the contractor would be paying for the new truck (with assistance from Tembec), he had the final say and could veto any recommendation put forward by FERIC. The most difficult component to reach agreement on was the engine, with FERIC recommending a smaller engine than was ultimately spec'ed. However, many of FERIC's proposals were accepted, which resulted in a truck that included the following special features (Table 1 provides a cost breakdown for this equipment):

  • severe-service aluminum rims, to reduce weight compared with traditional steel rims

  • smaller fuel tanks, to provide weight savings while still storing enough fuel for one shift

  • an aluminum cab protector, to reduce weight compared with traditional steel cab protectors

  • an aluminum front bumper, to save weight compared with the traditional steel bumper

  • central tire inflation (CTI), for improved traction, driver comfort and tire life

  • an on-board weigh scale, to ensure maximum payload without overloading

  • an in-cab auxiliary heater, to reduce engine idling in winter while keeping the cab comfortable for the driver during operational delays

  • an on-board computer, to collect and store data on productivity, costs and driver habits that affect vehicle safety and efficiency

  • a road maintenance management system, to give management a clear view of where daily maintenance activities should be focused

  • a single tractor frame rail, for lighter weight compared with the traditional double-frame rail

  • a lightweight, multi-product semi-log trailer (new design methods reduced trailer weight while maintaining structural integrity and the capacity to haul all required forest products)

As a result of the focus on lightweight components, the Star Truck had a road-ready tare weight of about 19 000 kg, which is 3000 kg less than the fleet average. During the first year of operation, however, weight was added to address structural issues related to the trailer and cab protector. As well, the normal accumulation of mud, bark, etc., further increased the vehicle's tare weight. Finally, tare weight varies depending on how much fuel is in the tank. As a result of all of these factors, the Star Truck's tare weight averaged between 19 400 and 19 800 kg during the two-year monitoring program.

Table 1. Equipment Costs for the Nouvelle Star Truck and the Control Truck
Equipment Star
Truck
Equipment Control
Truck
Basic Tractor $125,000 Basic Tractor $120,000
Aluminum cab protector   Steel cab protector $1,700
Aluminum bumper   Steel chrome bumper $900
Single frame   Double frame $4,100
On-board weigh scale $6,500 On-board weigh scale  
CTI* $12,000 CTI  
Cab auxiliary heater $2,000 Cab auxiliary heater  
Lightweight multi-product semi-log trailer $58,500 Multi-product semi-log trailer $48,000
Severe-service rims $12,500 Steel rims $2,500
Total cost $220,500 Total cost $177,200
Cost differential for Star Truck $43,300    

*The Nouvelle truck had a drive-only CTI. The second Star Truck vehicle, detailed in Table 5, had an all-axle CTI, at a higher purchase cost.

Monitoring project results

To monitor the Star Truck's performance, FERIC gathered productivity and cost information from various sources and used it to produce a weekly report for the contractor and the forest company. For example, mill personnel submitted regular reports on vehicle productivity (load transported per truck), and once a week the contractor downloaded and e-mailed data from the vehicle's electronic engine (kilometres travelled, fuel consumption, etc.). The contractor also submitted maintenance records and advised FERIC of any performance or maintenance issues that might not show up in the data. A similar performance-tracking process was established for the control truck.

After the first year of operation, the monitoring data showed no significant difference in maintenance costs between the Star Truck and the control truck (although several structural maintenance issues with the Star Truck's trailer and cab protector had to be dealt with under warranty). The two trucks transported a similar number of loads, which indicates a similar availability (i.e., neither truck lost an inordinate amount of haul time due to mechanical problems). However, when fuel consumption and payload data are compared (see Table 2), the Star Truck performed significantly better than the control truck in year one of the monitoring program:

  • Due to its lighter tare weight, the Star Truck carried 9.8 percent more payload on average than the control truck while consuming only about one percent more fuel per trip. This is equivalent to 88 more trips at virtually no extra cost to the company or the environment over the two-year period.

  • The Star Truck transported 8.6 percent more product per litre of fuel used, resulting in significant fuel savings and greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions.

  • The Star Truck's average fuel cost per tonne (t) of wood transported was $0.26 (or 8 percent) less than the control truck's.

  • Assuming both vehicles transported annual payloads of 19 500 t, the Star Truck would save an estimated $5,070 in fuel costs over the course of the year compared with the control truck.

As well, during summer operation, tire wear on the Star Truck was 40 percent less than the control truck's. This gain was attributed to reduced "chunking" and chipping of the treads due to the use of CTI.

Table 2. Year One Monitoring Results – Nouvelle Operation
  Star
Truck
Control
Truck
No. of loads transported 547 548
Average payload per trip 35 754 kg 32 563 kg
Average fuel consumed per trip 178.32 L 176.36 L
Product transported per litre of fuel 200.5 kg 184.6 kg
Average fuel cost per tonne of wood transported* $2.99/t $3.25/t

*Based on an average fuel cost of $0.60/L.

As the benefits of the Star Truck became evident and FERIC shared this information across the fleet, Tembec's haul contractors began to spec' lighter components when replacing equipment. Among those most impressed was the owner of the control truck. For the second year of the study, the control truck operated with a new trailer that reduced its tare weight to 19 590 kg, or 130 kg lighter than the Star Truck's. This resulted in an immediate 12 percent increase in efficiency for the control truck – equivalent to about 55 additional trips over the last year at no extra cost to the company.

In fact, the relatively low-cost changes made to the control truck (i.e., spec'ing a lighter trailer) in year two of the program improved its productivity to the point where it out-performed the Star Truck (see Table 3). In year two:

  • The control truck could carry a marginally larger average payload than the Star Truck while consuming 5.9 percent less fuel per trip.

  • The control truck transported 7.6 percent more product per litre of fuel used than the Star Truck.

  • The control truck's average fuel cost per tonne of wood transported was $0.26 (7 percent) less than the Star Truck's.

  • Assuming both vehicles transported annual payloads of 19 500 t, the control truck would save an estimated $5,070 in fuel costs over the course of the year compared with the Star Truck.

Table 3. Year Two Monitoring Results – Nouvelle Operation
  Star
Truck
Control
Truck
No. of loads transported 445 459
Average payload per trip 35 754 kg 36 187 kg
Average fuel consumed per trip† 220.5 L 207.5 L
Product transported per litre of fuel 162.1 kg 174.4 kg
Average fuel cost per tonne of wood transported* $3.70/t $3.44/t

†Both trucks travelled a longer haul distance in year two of the program.
*Based on an average fuel cost of $0.60/L

The demonstration project also had a positive impact on overall fleet operations:

  • As other haul contractors began to pay more attention to weight when replacing equipment, the average tare weight of the fleet dropped significantly (four percent in the first year of the project alone).

  • Tembec launched an information campaign to make its contractors aware of the problems associated with excessive vehicle idling. Combined with the close monitoring of idling practices, the campaign resulted in a 13 percent reduction of idling time across the fleet.

  • Overall, the fleet recorded an eight percent increase in efficiency after two years compared with the start of the project (pre-Star Truck) – equivalent to 440 additional trips at no extra cost to the company or the environment.

Impact of the Star Truck on fuel costs and emissions

Table 4 illustrates the impact – on annual payload, annual fuel consumption, the amount of product transported per litre of fuel and GHG emissions – if all eight trucks belonging to the contractor working for Tembec Nouvelle operation were converted to Star Trucks or improved control trucks.

Table 4. Converting the Contractor's Complete Fleet (Nouvelle, Québec)
  Scenarios
Complete Fleet With Year 1 Control Trucks Conversion of the Complete Fleet to Star Trucks Conversion of the Complete Fleet to Improved Control Trucks
Annual fleet payload 130 000 t 130 000 t 130 000 t
Annual fuel consumed 767 720 L 797 640 L 706 672 L
Product transported per litre of fuel 169.3 kg 179.0 kg 205.4 kg
Fuel saved   45 670.0 L 58 048 L
GHG emissions saved   123.3 t 156.7 t

*Based on an average of the two years.

Based on the results of the two-year study, the fleet servicing the Nouvelle operation can probably achieve at least a 10 percent gain in efficiency as it completes the transition to lighter, more efficient equipment. This would save about 58 000L of fuel annually, while preventing 156.7t of carbon dioxide from being released into the environment.

The lower tare weight and other savings achieved by the Star Truck reduced the haul costs by one dollar per tonne, from $11.25/t to $10.25/t. Essentially this saving comes from a reduction in the overall operation cost (fuel, salary, maintenance, fixed cost, etc.) so the net result is a significant saving in the cost per tonne. In the case of Tembec's Nouvelle overall operations, which are considered mid-size (hauling 312 000 t per year), the annual savings would be about $312,000.

Conclusions from the Nouvelle Project

Although the study of Tembec's Nouvelle operation was officially concluded after two years, FERIC will continue to monitor the first Star Truck throughout its operating life to assess its long-term performance and maintenance requirements. Trucks built to Star Truck specifications would clearly result in improved productivity and reduced fuel consumption in the Nouvelle operation. Still, the cost premium of $43,300 per vehicle could be a barrier for some contractors. As well, the payback period to recover these extra costs is relatively long, at 8.5 years (assuming annual fuel cost savings of about $5,070).

However, the Nouvelle demonstration project also revealed that a viable option for contractors who are unable or unwilling to invest in a fully equipped Star Truck might be to simply spec a lightweight trailer. For example, when the contractor operating the control truck switched to a lighter trailer in year two of the project, the control truck actually outperformed the Star Truck in relation to the amount of product transported per litre of fuel used. At an estimated cost premium of only $10,500, a lightweight trailer would pay for itself in one year (assuming annual fuel cost savings of about $10,140 when compared with the control truck in year one).

5. Implementation of the Second Star Truck

Based on the early success of the Nouvelle project, Tembec was keen to demonstrate a second truck in its operations at La Sarre, Québec. The selected contractor is an owner-operator with only one vehicle. The project, which began in May 2000, required the specifications of a new Star Truck due to significant differences in the Nouvelle and La Sarre operations. Nouvelle is located in a region of Québec that has very hilly, rough terrain, while La Sarre represents more typical haul conditions for eastern Canada. Furthermore, when the project began, the average tare weight for the La Sarre operation was about 19 000 kg for a Class 8 tandem tractor with a four-axle semi-log trailer – already close to the tare weight achieved with the Star Truck in Nouvelle.

Spec'ing the truck

Despite the differences in operating conditions, the Star Truck spec'ed for the La Sarre operation shared some common components with the Nouvelle Star Truck. These included CTI, an aluminum cab protector, an on-board weigh scale to ensure maximum payload, an in-cab auxiliary heater to reduce idling time, and an on-board computer to log data on productivity, costs and driver habits. (Table 7 on provides a cost breakdown for the La Sarre Star Truck). But all wheels on the La Sarre truck had prototype aluminum rims with steel-band bead protection to provide weight savings compared with traditional steel rims. At the end of the spec'ing process, the La Sarre Star Truck was 2000 kg lighter than the fleet average, weighing in at 17 000 kg road-ready.

Table 5. Equipment Costs for the La Sarre Star Truck and Control Truck
Equipment Star
Truck
Equipment Control
Truck
Basic Tractor $125,000 Basic Tractor $125,000
Aluminum cab protector $4,000   $1,700
On-board weigh scale $6,500 On-board weigh scale  
CTI* $18,000 CTI  
Cab auxiliary heater $2,000 Cab auxiliary heater  
Lightweight multi-product semi-log trailer $58,500 Multi-product semi-log trailer $48,000
Severe-service rims $12,500 Steel rims $2,500
Total cost $226,500 Total cost $177,200
Cost differential for Star Truck $49,300    

*The La Sarre truck had an all-axle CTI.

Preliminary results

Like the case in Nouvelle, the performance of the La Sarre Star Truck is being tracked for two years and compared with a control truck in the fleet. Since this monitoring is currently ongoing, the results presented here are preliminary and have not undergone significant analysis. To monitor the Star Truck's performance, FERIC gathered productivity and cost information from various sources and used it to produce a weekly report for the contractor and the forest company.

After about one year of operation, the rim manufacturer decided not to further test and market rims with steel-band bead protection. As a result, the rims on the La Sarre Star Truck were replaced with standard heavy-duty aluminum rims. Also in the first year of operation, the truck experienced some technical difficulties with the CTI system, which led the contractor to request the system's removal.

With the exception of these two problems, however, the results from the La Sarre study have been positive to date (see Table 6). Maintenance costs for the Star Truck and the control truck did not differ significantly in the first year of the project. And the two trucks transported a similar number of loads, which indicated comparable availability.

In the first year of the project:

  • Due to its lighter tare weight, the La Sarre Star Truck carried 8.5 percent more payload on average than the control truck while consuming about 2.5 percent more fuel per trip.

  • The Star Truck transported 5.8 percent more product per litre of fuel used, resulting in significant fuel savings and GHG reductions.

  • The Star Truck's average fuel cost per tonne of wood transported was $0.14 (or 6 percent) less than the control truck's.

  • Assuming both vehicles transported annual payloads of 30 000 t, the Star Truck would save an estimated $4,200 in fuel costs over the course of the year compared with the control truck.

Table 6. Year One Monitoring Results – La Sarre Operation
  Star
Truck
Control
Truck
No. of loads transported 785 780
Average payload per trip 38 440 kg 35 437 kg
Average fuel consumed per trip† 146.48 L 142.87 L
Product transported per litre of fuel 262.4 kg 248.0 kg
Average fuel cost per tonne of wood transported* $2.28/t $2.42/t

*Based on an average fuel cost of $0.60/L

A thorough analysis of the La Sarre project will be completed after the second year of monitoring. However, early indications are that the La Sarre project will achieve results similar to those noted in the Nouvelle fleet.

Impact of the Star Truck on fuel costs and emissions

Table 7 illustrates the impact – on annual payload, annual fuel consumption, the amount of product transported per litre of fuel and GHG emissions – if the vehicle belonging to the owner-operator working for Tembec La Sarre was converted to a Star Truck.

Table 7. Converting the Owner-Operator's Vehicle to a Star Truck (La Sarre, Québec)
  Control
Truck
Star
Truck
Annual vehicle payload 27 612 t 29 952 t
Annual fuel consumed 111 438.6 L 114 254.4 L
Product transported per litre of fuel 247.8 kg 262.1 kg
Fuel saved   6628.1 L
GHG emissions saved   17.9 t

Converting the owner-operator's control truck to a Star Truck will result in annual savings of about 6628 L of diesel fuel, while preventing 17.9 t of carbon dioxide from being released into the environment.

The optimization of the La Sarre Star Truck reduced haul costs by $0.35/t, from $11/t to $10.65/t. There are many other components to this saving. Essentially this saving comes from a reduction in the overall operation cost (fuel, salary, maintenance, fixed cost, etc.) so the net result is a significant saving in the cost per tonne. In the case of Tembec's La Sarre overall operations, which are considered larger than Nouvelle (hauling about 450 000 t per year), the annual savings would be in the order of $157,500.

6. Ongoing Activities

Building on the success of the first two demonstration projects, FERIC continues to promote the Star Truck concept and to seek opportunities to actively engage other forestry companies. For example, information packages have been developed to more widely publicize the Star Truck approach among forestry companies and haul contractors. FERIC will work closely with companies that choose to get involved to ensure they achieve maximum benefits from the Star Truck Project and can maintain those benefits after the two-year demonstration ends.

One such company is Domtar Inc., a leading manufacturer of paper and lumber products, which plans to begin using a custom-spec'ed Star Truck at its operations in Timmins, Ontario. Two key factors will distinguish the Timmins operation from the previous Star Truck projects: the regulated gross vehicle weight is considerably higher in Ontario (62 500 kg, compared with 57 000 kg in Québec), and trailers in Ontario have a fifth axle to accommodate the bigger loads. In consultation with the haul contractor, FERIC has spec'ed a truck with a projected tare weight of 19 300 kg, compared with the current average tare weight of 23 800 kg for trucks in the Timmins operation (a savings of 4500 kg, or 19 percent). Although the contractor has postponed purchasing the Star Truck due to a business slowdown, the project is expected to go forward in 2002.

As well, Tembec has expressed interest in expanding the Star Truck approach to other operating divisions across Canada.

As part of its ongoing commitment to the Star Truck Project, FERIC is maintaining a dialogue with equipment manufacturers to keep abreast of new lightweight components and fuel-efficient technologies that could be included in future Star Trucks. For example, new heavy-duty suspensions have become available; they are up to 400 kg lighter than those spec'ed in the first two Star Trucks. And new aluminum rim treatments are expected to double rim life (from about 3.5 to 7.0 years) for a marginal increase in cost.

FERIC is also continuing to initiate and participate in research and development projects that focus on improving the efficiency of equipment. One example is a proposed joint project with a forest trailer manufacturer and an engineering school to develop a concept for trailer designs that would significantly reduce tare weight.

Finally, FERIC is developing software that will support the decision-making process for contractors and others who are considering a truck purchase. Users will be prompted to enter their truck and trailer specifications, along with information on average haul rates and distances. The software will then illustrate the net impact of any modifications proposed by users, taking into account the change in purchase cost, change in tare weight and anticipated changes in maintenance requirements.

7. Partners in the Star Truck Project

Forestry companies

Equipment manufacturers

Government partners

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) developed this case study from information provided by the firm or organization highlighted. Readers are cautioned that they may not obtain similar pricing nor achieve similar results. NRCan does not endorse any product or manufacturer mentioned in this study.

FleetSmart is a vehicle energy management program operated by NRCan to promote vehicle energy efficiency. More information is available to fleet operators who register with the FleetSmart program.


Registration forms are available from:

FleetSmart
Office of Energy Efficiency
Natural Resources Canada
580 Booth Street, 18th Floor
Ottawa ON K1A 0E4
Fax: (613) 952-8169
E-mail