How to Reduce Diesel Fuel Consumption and Save Money
Learn how Flow Below’s Aerodynamic kit and wheel covers can help reduce diesel fuel consumption.
Episode 229: Imaging filling your truck up with diesel fuel, getting to $999 and your tanks aren’t full. That’s what truckers are experiencing every day. How can commercial truck operators reduce diesel fuel consumption and save money?
My guest today is David Black, the Vice-President, of Fleet Sales at FlowBelow. David is a returning guest; he was in episode 122 where we discussed 5 facts about aerodynamics on tractor trailers.
Guest Website: FlowBelow.com
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Transcript of Episode:
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.
Imagine filling up your truck with diesel fuel. And as you see the price going up and up, it hits $999 and your tanks aren’t full. That’s what truckers are experiencing every day right now with record diesel fuel prices.
So what strategies can they do to lower their total fuel consumption and save some money? Well, that’s what we’re gonna talk about today. And my guest is a returning guest. David Black is the Vice President of Fleet Sales at FlowBelow. He was in Episode 122, where we did a replay of a live interview that we had with him, where we discussed five facts about aerodynamics on tractor trailers.
So if you want to go back and listen to that episode, Episode 122, the links are in the show notes. David, welcome back to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.
Thank you, Jamie. It’s nice to be here and thank you for the invitation to return.
Well, you recently had a press release talking about a new product that is related to trailers. I’d like to talk about that product. First of all, can you just give us an overview of what it is?
Certainly. Well, as most people are aware, we have our patented aerodynamic quick-release wheel covers for tractors, and we have made the same product available now for the trailer position. They look and function the same way as our tractor wheel covers. The only difference is the bracketry supporting the wheel cover behind it.
Okay. So I was on the highway on the weekend with my family and we passed a semi-truck and trailer, and I saw your skirting kits on the trailer, but the truck and trailer didn’t have any wheel covers. And so right away, I’m thinking they’re missing out on an opportunity to save fuel. How do the wheel covers work in conjunction with a trailer kit to help save money on diesel fuel?
If we have a tractor kit that full Aero kit, drive wheel fairings, and wheel covers, that will save you 2.23%. Adding wheel covers to the trailer position. When used in combination with a trailer, the skirt adds an additional 0.81%. So that takes the total savings up to over 3% using both products.
Right, and with record diesel fuel costs right now and how much it costs actually fill a tractor-trailer, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up over the course of time.
Speaking of that though, what is the ideal customer, describe the type of application that this works the best in.
Well, this is where there’s some confusion within the industry, but basically, any fleet that averages over 40 miles per hour or more, and is interested in reducing drag and improving diesel fuel economy is a candidate for the product. And they will receive benefits from the FlowBelow Aerodynamic products.
Van and refrigerated fleets probably are considered a sweet spot for the product, but LTL fleets, parcel delivery, liquid bulk, dry bulk flatbed, and even auto haulers can benefit from reducing drag around the wheel ends and the wheel cavities,
As I think about all of those different applications, I can kind of picture them in my mind’s eye. And really it only seems to be like the over-the-road, like, you know, with a standard 53-foot trailer. I see a lot of them with aerodynamics, but in a lot of those other applications, you almost never see them with aerodynamic technology on their vehicle. That’s a completely wasted opportunity for them to lower their total costs.
Absolutely. And that’s where the misconception comes in, even though a truck and trailer may not be running the interstate highway, they may still have significant miles where they’re averaging over 40 miles per hour and can receive the benefit from aerodynamics.
Right. And so I know that flow below offers their products at the OE level, but is there an aftermarket option also so that these fleets could retrofit with your product?
Absolutely. The product is available at every class eight tractor OEM. We are actually releasing the product to trailer dealerships as well as we speak products are also available by calling 512-5244-510. That’s a FlowBelow customer support line or going to our website at www.flowbelow.com and we can certainly point you in the right direction.
Right. So even if you’re not sure where to go, we’ll put that contact info up on the video and also in the show notes so that you can just go to this episode and find that if you’re driving right now and you can’t write that down. Okay. So it’s available in both OE and aftermarket.
We’ve talked a little bit about who is best suited for it and how much they can save when we get back from our break, we’re gonna talk a little bit more about the actual installation process with this product. And when we get back, you’ll learn a little bit more about that. We’ll be right back after our break.
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Tractor-Trailer Wheel Covers
We’re back from our break. And before the break, we were talking about how much money you can save using aerodynamic technology for both tractors and trailers.
In a recent press release, David, you talked about this new product for wheel covers for trailers before it was available for tractors. Now it’s available also for the trailers, are these trailer wheel covers interchangeable with the tractor wheel covers?
The short answer to that is yes. The covers themselves are the same. The only difference is the bracketry behind the wheel cover because the wheel ends of the tractor and the trailer are different. Some fleets though have started moving wheel covers from the tractor position to trailers as they trade in order to expedite getting the entire fleet equipped.
Okay. That makes sense. And let’s just talk a little bit about that installation process. What is it like, and how long does it take, just walk us through how you go ahead and install those wheel covers.
So the wheel covers are very quick and simple. Basically on the tractor, you’re looking at a bracket that fits directly over top of the existing axle flange nuts.
We provide four additional nuts, with the wheel cover set, you place the bracket over the axle flange nuts, tighten the four new bolts on top, and then a slight spin of the push and a spin of the wheel cover and you’re ready to go tractor wheel cover kit set of four for a tandem axle tractor.
I can do it personally in about 10 minutes and I’m certainly no technician. The trailer wheel covers take just a little bit longer on the trailer. We’re actually affixing the bracket to the top of the hubcap. And whereas the hubcap is the center of the trailer axle. You’ve got bolts that hold that hubcap in.
By removing four of those bolts and replacing them with four longer bolts that we provide, you mount the trailer bracket over the hubcap, using the longer bolts. And it’s the same process to get the cover onto the bracket. I’m gonna say the trailer wheel cover’s gonna take you probably about 20 minutes for a set of four.
Okay, perfect. Perfect. Now I know from the last time we had you on the show, we talked about your deep connections to the truck OEs and how your products are all available through them. You did just briefly mention it, but I just wanna make sure. So you’re now working with trailer manufacturers. So not only can you get this aftermarket kind of retrofit kit, but if you wanted to spec new trailers, will you be able to do that as well?
You will need to bring up the issue with your trailer dealer for your next new trailer order. Basically, we do not have a standard position at any trailer manufacturer at this point in time. However, the vast majority of trailer OEMs have installed our products for a wide variety of our fleet customers that are currently using them today.
We are moving in that direction, and hopefully, we can get some of those trailer manufacturers onboard to give us a standard position on each of their platforms. Meanwhile, tell your dealer that you want genuine FlowBelow aerodynamic wheel covers on your next new trailer order.
Right, and by specing that ahead of time talking with them, then you can take advantage of those diesel fuel savings from day one. So just for everybody listening again, let’s go over the numbers on possible diesel fuel savings. Walk us through the whole setup of what would be required to get to that over 3% of fuel savings.
Absolutely. You can put the full FlowBelow Aerodynamic Aero kit on the tractor that includes the drive wheel fairings and the patented quick-release wheel covers. In addition to trailer wheel covers on the trailer position, the tractor kit, and arrow kit can be installed by an individual probably in about one hour to one and a quarter hours. And that includes the wheel covers on the power unit.
As I’ve said before, the trailer wheel covers will probably take about 20 minutes. The diesel fuel savings for the full Aero kit on the tractor will run at 2.23%. The diesel fuel savings adding the trailer wheel covers add an additional 0.81% to that number, bringing you to 3.04%.
Now if a fleet or an owner operator were utilizing wheel covers only on the tractor and the trailer, they would receive 0.93% diesel fuel savings for the tractor wheel covers and another 0.81% for trailer wheel covers.
So it’s a very quick and easy way to get a rapid ROI to give you an example, 1.74% may not seem like much, but as I’ve said for years, trucking is a business of pennies, a lot of pennies.
Basically, everyone measures everything. Their line items are fixed in variable expenses, along with revenue and dollars and cents per mile. So a fleet of a hundred tractors and trailers averaging 120,000 miles per year and paying $5 per gallon for diesel fuel today would save over $156,000 per year using wheel covers alone on the tractor and trailer. That would be over $693,000 if you ran the truck on a five-year trade cycle.
Significant savings well, and when diesel fuel is at an all-time high, this is important for people to be aware of what’s available, and what options are available.
You’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And we’ve been speaking with David Black Vice President of Fleet Sales at FlowBelow. To learn more about FlowBelow, again, you can go to their website, visit flowbelow.com. Links will be in the show notes. And just one more time, David, if they just want a phone customer service, what’s that phone number again?
The customer support line at flow below is area code 512-524-4510, or feel free to contact me directly at area code 859-494-8569. All of our products are made in the US we’re based in Austin, Texas. And if anyone wonders why I have a central Kentucky telephone area code it’s because I work and travel remotely and I’m on the road all the time.
As are most of us these days. Well, David, once again, thank you so much for coming back on the show. Love learning about your products, and hopefully we can help some people save some money. So thanks again for being on the show.
Thank you, Jamie pleasure to be here.