Thursday, November 4, 2010

Freight Hauliers Can Make Savings With Truck Management Device

Electronic Addition to any Modern Commercial Vehicle will Save Fuel
Shipping News Feature

UK - A new fuel-saving device designed to put the brakes on ‘heavy right-footed’ drivers is now available on all Mercedes-Benz vans and trucks. Called ‘ExcelArate’, and developed by specialist firm Zeta Automotive in partnership with Mercedes-Benz UK, the device works by simply limiting the performance of unladen commercial vehicles. Empty running is of course the scourge of the freight haulier and the system is likely to attract some attention as cargo carriers look to improve their environmental credentials.

Nick Blake, Sales Engineering Manager at Mercedes-Benz UK, explained his thoughts on the device thus:

“Modern vans and trucks often have very powerful engines, designed to work efficiently when hauling a full load, but frequently they are driven with only part loads or even completely empty. In those situations, it’s very tempting for the driver to make use of that power to accelerate much more quickly than necessary – which, of course, has an adverse effect on the vehicle’s fuel consumption.

 “The ExcelArate system prevents this by limiting the power and revs available to the driver, so that the vehicle behaves exactly as it would when carrying a 60 per cent load. It’s a great example of how we at Mercedes-Benz UK are working with experts in a number of fields to help hard-pressed operators minimise the cost of running commercial vehicles as far as possible.”

Zeta Automotive is based in Bicester, Oxfordshire, and developed the ExcelArate dynamic throttle control after meeting with senior managers at Mercedes-Benz UK’s Milton Keynes headquarters. Initially created for use with Sprinter vans, but now developed for heavy trucks as well, the device can be fitted to any vehicle with an electronic throttle, and sits between the accelerator pedal and the engine’s ECU computer. Zeta’s Head of Business Unit Gordon Anderson said:

“By electronically restricting the vehicle’s maximum rate of acceleration to simulate that of a part-laden vehicle, and forcing earlier gear changes by limiting the maximum revs, we can mimic the behaviour of a careful, economic driver. It’s a ‘fit and forget’ system, with no training or management required. It simply means drivers will no longer be able to over-rev their engines but when they need it, for example on a steep hill or with a heavy load, full power will still be available."

The system has already produced some striking results during trials, when fitted to Mercedes-Benz Sprinters in some of Britain’s best-known fleets. Vehicles equipped with ExcelArate have covered more than 40,000 miles working for Ginsters, Ocado, Parcelforce Worldwide, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose – and have produced reductions in fuel use ranging from 4.1 to 15.8 per cent.

The system’s potential for saving fuel was recognised when it won the Industry Innovation Award at this year’s Green Fleet Awards in London. Mercedes-Benz scored another victory on the same night when it was named LGV Manufacturer of the Year – thanks to its Econic low-entry cab vehicle, which is commonly used in refuse collection fleets but also employed in a host of other applications, and available with a clean-burning natural gas-powered engine.

Photo: Ginsters reduced its fuel consumption by nine per cent with Mercedes-Benz ExcelArate