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Podcast

Making Alternative Energy Usable for the Trucking Industry

Learn about how Green Road Energy is making wind energy usable for the trucking industry.

Episode 188: We hear a lot about alternative energy, and we see it coming in the trucking industry in many forms. But how is Green Road Energy leading the way with the power of wind?

My guest today is Zachary Benson the National Director of Accounts at Green Road Energy.  

Zachary Benson the National Director of Accounts at Green Road Energy. In this episode, learn about how Green Road Energy is making wind energy usable for the trucking industry.

“Green Road Energy Inc. is a company that is dedicated to making alternative energy a truly usable power source for the trucking industry. Green Road Energy is offering these new solutions for transportation companies who are wanting to reduce costs, downtime, and pollution, all while providing a substantial ROI. With the power of wind, we generate charge on the go.” 

Guest Website: GreenRoadEnergy.com

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Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You’re listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keeps trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost-per-mile.

We hear a lot about alternative energy in the trucking industry, and we know that it’s coming. We know that there are many forms of alternative energy. And today I’m really excited to talk to our guests because they are an expert in this space. And I think we’re going to be able to learn quite a bit about a very specific way that alternative energy can be used for the trucking industry. My guest today is Zachary Benson, the National Director of Accounts at Green Road Energy. Now Green Road Energy is a company that is dedicated to making alternative energy, truly usable power source for the trucking industry. They’re offering these new solutions for transportation companies who wan to reduce cost. That’s a big subject on our show. They want to reduce downtime. Of course we want to avoid unscheduled downtime and for companies that want to reduce pollution. Zachary, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.

Zachary Benson:

Hey, thank you so much, Jamie. I appreciate the opportunity getting to speak about all of the different technology that’s coming out there and just trying to help out in the industry altogether, especially.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So your energy is created from the power of wind, but it might not be what people think when they hear that. So could you explain the process to us?

Zachary Benson:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s honestly, just as simply as it kind of sounds, but essentially, you know, we’re pushing any vehicle, on highways or any streets and we’re always pushing through wind out of everything. So even if it’s still air gust, it doesn’t matter as we push through that speed that we’re cutting through, that is kind of a usable force. You know, and even for like a windmill, that’s something that’ll stand still and catch and breeze, but for vehicles that we’re already having to push through and help making on these deliveries and such, for us, it just seemed like such a fallback that it seemed kind of clear to us to kind of catch on some of that extra energy, especially when everyone’s kind of moving towards this kind of green standards. So using this wind, that’s actually passing by was kind of our whole concept and idea that we kind of capitalized on here.

Jamie Irvine:

Right, so depending on the powertrain of the vehicle, it’s not going to eliminate emissions, but it can reduce the amount of emissions because it’s actually capturing this unused energy. Okay, I get it. So what hurdles did you have to overcome to develop this technology and get it to work properly?

Zachary Benson:

So specifically about this system, we’ve had this going about two to three years for this tag system is how we call it a trailer auxiliary generator. But before that, we’ve actually been in testing in the different fields for close to 10 years going on about different ideas and how we can kind of figure out any charging solutions for these trucks, because there’s a lot of different things that are going on, especially if they have these reefers where they’re trying to keep products cool or if they have lift gates, specifically pallet jacks, all of these different power sources that they’re needing to help keep and feed. So for us kind of jumping over any technical issues specifically for this latest one being positioning so clearly positioning it closely to the corner of the truck and having it angled out to the side is the best way without any type of drag, was something that we had to kind of figure out as well.

Not to mention for the batteries that are completely parallel. That was also a big thing that we were trying to do because you have, what’s also a voltage drop off. So with that being the case that can also kind of significantly damage batteries that we’re trying to keep and maintain. So keeping them powered and doing this and positioning it, that was what really took us a lot of catered time, but overall we’ve really also tried to just cut down on making sure that we’re not over complicating it, you know, it is just a wind turbine that we’ve really mounted underneath and we’re able to just position it correctly where we’re catching anything, adding no drag we’re actually, as the wind comes by, it’s trying to fill a void and that void is taking that wind and it’s tunneling it back right into our generator.

Jamie Irvine:

As with most things it’s years in the making, right? I often think like people will first be introduced to something and they’re like, wow, it’s like an overnight success. It’s like, yes, 10 years in the making.

Zachary Benson:

Right. No most literally, it took us a little bit of time and I think it was mostly, going through different designs. I mean, this is like I said, for two to three years, even just for this wind generator design before that we had, an I MIX system is what it’s called too. And that one would actually go on the drive shaft. So this one has just been the most fluent. And I think making the most sense, because as you’re going, you’re going through the wind, it just, everything started to kind of make and click sense for this one rather than the others.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So you’ve created this technology that captures the wind creates energy. What kind of applications is this used for? And then I’ve got a couple other follow up questions.

Zachary Benson:

Yeah, no, absolutely. So applications, I mean on a day to day drive for any company, it’s probably going to be a list of multiple stops. So as you’re coming to your next location to have your drop off they’re gonna have your drivers coming out and they’re gonna go and activate that lift gate and they’re gonna have that load down, load up, load down, load up so they can pull off these pallets for whatever they’re unloading. That’s gonna be a significant drop off on any of the battery storage. So the only biggest thing out there besides this is maybe like solar and that’s definite like we’re a big contributor to that as well. We definitely see a benefit there and we’ll even help do some install with it and we’ll even match it and actually connect it to our system, but as soon as ours starts coming in, so once the vehicle is starting to drive again, this will actually go three times as powerful then any of the solar energy. So it’ll completely help sustain, and if not come close to at least 80% of full capacity before you’re even gonna reach your next stop. Essentially even at 18 miles per hour, you don’t have to go anywhere near highway speeds to necessarily generate power even at 18 miles per hour, you’re actually generating enough to charge right there.

Jamie Irvine:

Wow. So traditionally where is the power source for a power lift gate?

Zachary Benson:

So the power lift gate’s gonna be powered based off of the two batteries that are gonna be underneath the side of the trailer. So that’s gonna be about halfway down, the left hand side is typically where they have that mounted and it’s usually a little battery bank or whatever box and it’s going to have those two batteries there. And we are basically trying to tether completely right across from it parallel to the other side of the trailer so that we can angle our generator out, catch that wind on that side of the trailer and then feed that power directly back to those batteries.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So traditionally when those batteries ran down, what did they have to do to recharge them?

Zachary Benson:

That was where diesel power really was the only solution. So there’s some different connections that they would have to do and they would have to run the cab. So running the cab was going to be the biggest solution, you know, as an alternator or whatever, to kind of help power back and charge up those batteries and the only other solution, like I said, even in nowadays is coming down to solar. But you know, solar, we, like I said, we love the solar portion because it’s just as green, problem being is it’s the biggest fallback that we’ve heard a lot of everywhere is that you’ve only got so much so many hours you can do, you know, these overnight deliveries, they’re not gonna get any benefit from that. And that’s the thing. I mean it could be rain or shine and that’s really where we thought, you know, wind, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re pushing that truck. And that’s what we’re looking to do with them all day long.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. So anytime you’re putting load on your engine, you’re burning more fuel, that’s more emission. So if you can take that load off, you can charge these batteries without having to burn extra fuel, use up horsepower. This is a good thing. Okay. That makes a lot of sense. We’re gonna take a quick break. When we get back, I got a few more questions for you. Don’t have a heavy-duty part number and need to look up a part? Go to parts.diesellaptops.com or download the app on Apple or Android to create your free account. Looking for high quality fuel injection for heavy-duty applications? Having one supplier for fuel injection allows you to better serve customers by providing them with a complete line, which increases your sales and profitability. Learn more at ambacinternational.com/aftermarket. Okay. We’re back from our break. And before the break we were learning about green road energies technology. This wind turbine it’s used to power things like the batteries for a power lift gate, as an example. Add another question, Zachary is this also, or could this energy also be used to power like the refrigeration units, things like that that are typically powered with a diesel generator.

Zachary Benson:

So kind of glad you actually mentioned the reefer anyhow, so specifically we’re kind of in the mindset, like we can definitely power anything that’s going based off of auxiliary power. But a reefer is a huge thing and it’s actually something I would say we’ve also been dabbling with on the side specifically as its own piece. So it’s something that we’re excited to help unveil as well, because we’re always kind of looking into different areas for our technology. So I think it’s something that we would consider almost as a separate piece that might eventually be a connected piece that we can do with our tag systems. So it might just be a second step to these, you know, any of these distributors that are looking to help refrigerate and keep cool on their products as well.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay, great. So at the outset in your bio you mentioned cost reduction. So how much of a cost reduction could someone see using your technology?

Zachary Benson:

Well, especially lately that’s going to be significant because obviously we’ve seen as we struggle through these diesel prices that have been on the rise. We’ve been kind of trying to calculate a little bit differently. So going off of even like today’s average, I kind of checked it earlier today, it’s around somewhere in the $5 range for a gallon of diesel. That’s definitely significant. And even before, we had calculated it at around like three and a half gallons, and we’re looking at today’s date close to a thousand dollars annually saved per tax system. So this is because of each work week that we have, we are saving close to three and a half gallons of diesel. So from there, we’re saving that much diesel on a work week of 50 hours and multiply that times 52. So we’re getting close to about a thousand dollars saved per Tag unit in use.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So any fleets that are listening, just go outside your yard and look at all the trailers in your yard and start adding up how many thousands of dollars that is. That’s exciting. You mentioned the reduction in downtime, help me understand the connection and like where does the downtime happen traditionally and how does your technology alleviate that or prevent it?

Zachary Benson:

No, absolutely. So for the downtime, obviously it’s gonna be where it comes down to it’s too late for the battery. So the batteries come to a point where it’s basically completely depleted, it’s dead, there’s nothing else to able to move this lift gate. And that was another big thing for us. We’ve had a lot of members that we knew specifically and directly where we were hearing stories of people, you know, they’re stuck and they cannot get their lift gate to come down or back up. And they’ve got product that even if they’re attempting to do this offhand, that’s gonna be a real difficulty for them. So it’s become, you know, known for companies where they’re actually spending the money to even send another truck or a service vehicle out there to go now and reinstall new batteries or anything like that. Or they’re sitting here attempting to see if the cab can help charge it up. So all of these solutions are just draining through and depleting extra costs and that’s where it becomes a big benefit to have this, where it’s gonna completely sustain and you can help monitor as well.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, it’s like it’s never just the couple batteries that would need to be replaced. Let’s say if they were depleted and are no longer chargeable, like that’s not the real cost. The real cost is all those things that connect to the downtime event. Like you said, you can only imagine if you’ve got some sensitive goods that need to be delivered at a specific time. And now you’re stuck at a lot and you’re trying to offload onto another trailer and cross dock and oh my goodness, all of a sudden the cost of labor and time just skyrocket. So I see that makes a lot of sense. So this is The Heavy Duty Parts Report. We love to talk about parts. Once this unit is installed, you get all these benefits of it, there’s gonna be maintenance and servicing needed on the actual unit. So what kinds of parts are, uh, whatever need to be replaced? What does the maintenance cycle look like on the wind turbine and your technology?

Zachary Benson:

So ironically, this is our favorite part is that we pretty much, and this is what we actually delve deep into really trying to develop it because, you know, we know more than anything, these trailers on the road almost if not 24/7, you know in between maybe sleeping patterns and such, but this is constantly in use and they’re highly rated to go into this. So in the least our units are completely rated to go without any type of maintenance for the most part, it’s really just without any type of damages to it. So it’s completely coated as well to make sure that it’s protected from any type of debris that may be coming through. The biggest issue I would say to make sure, and just to do a walk around for any drivers is just to make sure that on the front screen of the wind generator, that there’s no plastic or debris that’s blocking it.

But besides that, I mean, these can be completely cleaned, as well as that the generator, even on Northern states where they may be snow in other weather conditions, the generator will actually warm up enough to actually melt through any type of the snow. And also with the wind flow, it’s gonna keep tunneling all of that through and keeping it nice and clean. So with any type of maintenance being, it’s also based off of a generator, that’s with magnets. So it’s actually completely frictionless on that. So there is only one portion that has a bearing and that is still rated to go with any of the trailers that are still on the roads.

Jamie Irvine:

Right, right. I mean, we’d love to say that all the trailers are replaced every 10 years, but we know that that’s not true. It could be 12 or 15, but yeah. And that’s a good thing with the Northern, like I live in Canada and man in the middle of winter, your vehicle can just get coded with, with like slush and ice and water, and then all that freezes solid. So I know like with LED lights in the headlamps, there was a big issue up here where the, the old lights generated enough heat to melt and keep the snow off the light. And these LEDs were being completely covered. So they actually had to design them with heaters inside of them just to keep it so that the ice would melt. So the generator creates enough heat to take care of that. That awesome.

Zachary Benson:

Oh yeah. No, absolutely. That was our biggest thing is trying to make sure that, you know, it kept clean and that it’s pretty much as maintenance free as you can, because it’s just constant electrical wiring. And the only thing to it is just that generator and that’s, like I said, that’s going off of a frictionless ongoing with those magnets. So there is no type of maintenance to kind of look into that. It’s really just kind of making sure condition wise that it’s staying clean, but the wind does all of that work for us where it’s continuously tunneling through, it’s cleaning out any dirt and stuff that’s gonna be coming through constantly.

Jamie Irvine:

And do you just wash it when you wash the trailer?

Zachary Benson:

Absolutely. Yeah. We even say like probably with pressuring just to stay a little bit further out, so you’re not going directly in the generator to like damage any parts to like remove them if you’re doing a pressure hose. But other than that, I mean, you can go full blast with cleaning on it. Like I said, it’s got the coating on the outside to make sure that you can scrub it and you can completely do anything like that. But for the most part, you probably just need to spray it off as you’re doing the rest of the trailer.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. And then when it comes to installation, like some of this technology I’ve had companies come on the show where they actually have like crews that go out and install it, others, they just sell the parts and then the mechanics or technicians install it themselves. What’s the situation with your technology? And is there any kind of specific training that would be needed if they do indeed install it themselves?

Zachary Benson:

Well we know this is a world of flexibility and business, so everyone has different kind of resolutions to whatever they can kind accommodate with. So that’s really what we wanted to do. That being said, we have through our official distributor, we’re actually through Layman’s Lift Gates. So they actually have 300 plus locations that can help with any type of serviceable needs on the actual Tag system. But on top of that we especially like to encourage and offer any type of training programs to certify and educate anybody who’s interested in the upkeep and constant maintenance of any of these Tag systems that are on the road and just kind of a fuller understanding.

Jamie Irvine:

Awesome. Awesome. Is this something that’s an aftermarket add on or is it also OE on some trailers?

Zachary Benson:

It’s definitely looking to be a little bit of both. Depending on who we’re doing it through distributor-wise, it can be considered as an OE. So we’re trialing with making it as an open solution for anybody who’s just trying to add on to maybe just a few trailers, or if they’re trying to outfit to a fleet.

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And we’ve been speaking with Zachary Benson, the National Director of Accounts at Green Road Energy. To learn more about Green Road Energy, visit greenroadenergy.com, just like it sounds, links will be in the show notes, so you can just click through and check out their site. Zachary, thank you so much for being on The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

Zachary Benson:

Absolutely. Thank you so much, Jamie.

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