Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Road Freight Group Buys Big with Huge Truck Order to Update Haulage Fleet

Automatics Favoured for Reduced Fuel Consumption and Ease of Operation
Shipping News Feature

US – Here at the Handy Shipping Guide we receive dozens of e mails every week telling of how road haulage outfits in numerous countries are investing in new equipment. Sadly space and time (and the fact that the news is often of little interest to our readers) precludes us from running these items. Occasionally however an order is of such magnitude it is worth more than a mention. Such is the case with Michigan full load freight haulier Con-way Truckload, a subsidiary of Con-way Inc. which is replacing almost a fifth of its 2,700 fleet of tractors this year, meaning an order for 550 new units.

Con-way boasts a fleet it says is one of the youngest and most modern in the truckload industry and the new purchases include 540 tractor units equipped with automatic transmissions and all with driver-preferred 6x4 axles. This purchase represents a significant increase of automatic trucks to Con-way Truckload’s fleet, considering that previously, the fleet only included 50 automatic transmissions in total. This decision was steered in part by a constant stream of driver requests for automatics, along with the company’s desire to lower the barrier of entry into a driving career. As Gretchen Jackson, the company’s Recruiting Manager explains:

“We’ve found that many younger drivers looking to enter the industry prefer the automatic transmissions because it removes the perception that operating a truck is outside of their ability. Truck driving is an essential role within the economy and, given the current driver shortage, we want to provide career opportunities for those who have an interest but may think the job is unattainable.”

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) recently reported that the trucking industry currently has 30,000 unfilled driver jobs and that number is expected to grow to 100,000 over the next decade. An auto box takes away one of the most complex considerations as noted by Con-way Truckload driver Stephanie Klang, who commented:

“Learning to shift a 10 or 13 speed transmission may make some new drivers nervous about starting a career in trucking. But with the auto shifts in the trucks today, new drivers can feel more comfortable, focus attention on their surroundings and manoeuvre their truck safety through traffic and congestion. While driving a truck still involves a lot of skill, the automatics make life on the road a little easier.”

Also a result of driver input was the decision to purchase 100% tandem axle twin-screw tractors and, in addition to the driver-based feedback, automatic tractors support increased fuel efficiency, which compliments Con-way Truckload’s commitment to sustainability. Fully automatic transmissions provide improved fuel economy by selecting the perfect shift points based on load and terrain, consistently operating the truck in the most efficient gear.

Con-way opted to vary manufacturers for such a large order mixing it up with Kenworth, Volvo, Navistar and Freightliners all on the shopping list. Initial deliveries began earlier this year and all of the new replacement tractors will be on the road by December of 2014.