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Posts Tagged ‘Green’

                                       The Truck Stop of the Future

 

Technology is often born of crisis, not because it is the correct thing to do.  Take for instance the knowledge of Alternative Fuel has been around for years yet the general public is just now becoming aware of it.

Recently, I watched some old news reel footage of Henry Ford and George Washington Carver from the 1940’s where Henry Ford took a bat to a prototype vehicle that ran on ethanol and was made from soybean plastics.

Clearly there has always been an awareness that the facet of oil would run dry but back then it was simply more cost effective to shelve the idea of alternative fuels, but for how long and at what long term price?

We are now facing that dilemma as big automakers have had to dust off the hidden technology which they should have done without being forced. Instead they waited until the walls tumbled down upon them and all of America.

Now these same issues are coming to bear on the trucking industry where a number of neglected issues are about to challenge the desire to conduct “business as usual” mentalities.

We all watched the automotive industry that had to be “persuaded” to understand that the right thing and crisis are upon us now.

America is suffering in a way many of us have never before experienced. The heyday of hand over fist profit is over for the time being, we need to work on solutions.

We shipped our jobs away, we buy goods from other countries who don’t like us and we think we can still have our cake and eat it too.

The truth is new technologies bring forth new industries which this country desperately needs. Any businessman who has built an empire from the ground up will tell you to create something new requires risk, investment, determination.

None of the above comes in a pretty package with a cherry on top. This means hard work and anyone who resists the change that is upon us right now to save this country from the mess we have put ourselves in is not doing their patriotic duty.

The trucking industry is one of America’s last Industries on our soil, or is it?

The future for trucking is exciting with many new opportunities depending on how you view things. Is the glass half empty, or half full? Will work be involved? Effort? Money?

Natural Gas provides a way we can move into the future of alternative fuels NOW not when the clock runs out. Hybrid Engines, Solar Auxiliary Power Units (APU)that will put an end to idle emissions are just some of the innovations that will be the future of trucking like it or not.

We have passed the point of keeping things on the shelf because we are at the crossroads of necessity so we have a choice to make new industries for ourselves or let some other countries do it for us who are eager while we stand around and bicker with each other.

About the only argument anyone can offer about why they don’t support Natural Gas is because it will cost money. Just like labor costs money so we shipped our jobs to people who do our jobs for us. Just like American products that everyone wants really cheap so we stopped making stuff here. What we got for those decisions was a $5 4th of July T-Shirt made in Pakistan, Ecuador and India. We got poison lead on children’s toys made in places that make powdered milk for their own people that harm their own babies. But we got it cheap.

It’s not that we don’t have solutions right now, it’s because we tolerate feet draggers who stall inevitable progress by hemming and hawing and whining while capitalists in other countries seize upon our growing ineffectiveness, our petty arguing trying to make our bottom line look better.  Now we come to find out those inflated bottom lines were lies also.

Once upon a time in America we created new jobs, others disappeared such as the man whose job it was to light to street lamps at night. What was that man to do when that darn electric bulb was invented?

You cannot undo innovations, inventions and new technology. Progress is coming to solve our energy woes, but you can miss the boat of opportunity. Who among us is wasting precious time to act upon the numerous new avenues of industry that can now be explored?

I am no scientist, I’m just a truck driver but it’s plain to me that we are our own worst enemies when it comes to adapting to change.

Do you recall the “Monsanto House of the Future”? It was an attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim, California from 1957 to 1967, remember that? I don’t, I wasn’t even born yet but I read about this “House of the Future” set in the year 1986 that had such crazy contraptions like a box that cooked your dinner in 60 seconds!

Microwaves, another technology that sat around since the 1940’s but did not experience rapid growth until the 70’s when Japan figured out how to make the American Innovation profitable.

I think you get the picture.

The question is: Who is for American Innovation and profit?  and Who is just out to make profits for themselves forsaking America’s longevity in this time of crisis?

As I have traveled around this past year in various truck stops and visited truck shows I see the trending theme is “GREEN”.

Jump on the “Green Trucking” bandwagon, lets us all sing, hold hands and be partners.

But who is really onboard?

I am and I see ton’s of opportunity for many not just the few who have had the oligopoly up to now.

Perhaps that is the problem, some don’t want to share the new pie that is coming out of the oven?

I don’t see socialism, I see avenues for new entrepreneurs and forward thinking minds to make money from a crisis that is not tapping our shoulder anymore, it is thumping us on our heads.

One common objection I hear about natural gas in 18-wheelers is: “There aren’t enough fueling sites”.  DING DANG!  Opportunity! Hello Naysayers remember when they sold Ethel and Supreme at the filling station?

Perhaps NATSO, the National Association of Truck Stop Owners should add Natural gas to their product line like they did when “ULSD” came out?

What about drivers? I am a company driver; I drive what my company gives me to drive. That is a freightliner with no APU so I have to idle in extreme weather conditions so I can sleep.

I don’t like to Idle, I don’t want to send emissions into the air but I don’t want to suffocate or freeze to death either.

What’s the solution? I can’t force my company to but me an APU, why wouldn’t they want to invest in an entire fleet of Natural Gas Semi’s with Solar APU’s like “Kool Rig APU

I am left to be responsible to pay to idle even though I am an employee. I am left to pay the citation if I idle in a city like Dallas or in California where new idle laws affect drivers not the companies.

My company can charge me to idle or I can pay to go to Idleaire which is a truck parking area that you pay for outside temperature control and power while you are parked.

The problem is that I shouldn’t have to pay because I am an employee.

Idleaire is also outdated and needs a facelift; it needs to be reenergized into the 21st century in the same manner our infrastructure and Truck manufacturers need to move into the future,

In my “Green Idea” I talk about parking that has been specially designed for bobtail tractors to plug into a unit to warm the engine block in winter.
Block Heater Post for Engine but not Driver?

I ask questions like: Why are Recreational Vehicles provided with “Shore Power” units in specially designed parking areas so they do not have to idle but not for commercial vehicles?

Truck manufacturers who are addressing the growing demand to create hybrid engines and natural gas trucks should be exploring built in temperature control units that simply need to be plugged into the existing Idleaire scaffolding.

The existing structure could be retrofitted for Solar and Wind power with a pull down cord that plugs directly into the tractor just as an RV would. This would do away with the cumbersome outdated forced air system.

Just as the “House of the Future” became outdated by 1967 at Disneyland, the Idleaire concept needs fresh ideas. Today’s drivers have cell phones, laptops, and WIFI or air cards. Most only need temperature control and some electricity.

Also, in extreme weather the engine block is not protected from freezing by using the Idleaire system. Power Units for Recreational Vehicles but not Commercial?

Truck Parking is an issue; Safety and security of cargo as well as the driver’s life are at risk. Especially during the economic downturn we are experiencing now. This fact has become more evident with the murder of Trucker Jason Rivenburg who parked in an abandoned gas station awaiting his delivery appointment in South Carolina and was shot for $7 that was on his dashboard.

The resulting legislation that has been introduced called “Jason’s Law” HR 2156 & S 971 again offers more opportunities, depending on where you stand.

Safety and Security should be in the forefront of our minds right now, not our personal individual pocketbooks. If you stand to lose a little then use your brain to figure out how to make more in another way because now is the time.

Who is not for Safety and Security? Who is against getting us off foreign oil? Why? Greed? Let’s expose them because if money is the only thing that motivates them they are not seeing the big picture of other opportunities that will spring forth from these changes.

Work will be required, thought and effort.

Whoever is not on this bandwagon is not thinking about the long-term future of this country as a whole, they are only thinking about themselves.

 The American people deserve to know who the problem is and who wants to be part of the solution.

Let’s stop forming committees and partnerships to fool each other. This is really just waste of time and money because we are talking about saving our country.

Trucks move everything we use in our daily lives, even when it was made overseas. We know the rail system is being rehabbed in some areas and that eventually long haul trucking will shrink and have to adapt into a regional system.

We know we have energy issues, we have emissions regulations, and we have cheap labor issues.

Regardless of whether the long haul trucker wants to adapt to these changes they should understand there are still opportunities for them also.

If big trucking want to drag their feet to buy natural gas fleets then Owner –Operators should see it as an opportunity to receive special incentives to adapt first. Perhaps even regain some of the strength they once had.

It’s much easier to afford to buy one truck than an entire fleet that’s for sure but wouldn’t the shippers and receivers be in support of the Natural Gas Act and Support those Truckers who invest in America’s long-term future?

What about the truck stops?  What can they offer besides Natural Gas?  How about parking spaces designed by truckers that are actually suitable to park, not just lines on pavement. Poor planning and design makes a number of wasted spaces which are not accessible because the adjacent spot interferes with it, yet these spaces are counted on paper.

We have to admit that industrial planning is lacking, the unsupervised criminal activities and lack of attention to premises is why truck stops have a bad image. Despite the vain attempts rebrand themselves as “Travel Plazas” to appeal to all travelers. This is a good first step but more effort is needed.

Instead of spending money to hinder the passage of a safe trucker parking bill, perhaps thinking of ways to lure people into truck stops besides “up selling” 2 for 1 milk duds to every customer? How about clean toilets, no solicitors banging on the doors at night?  After all, a well rested driver is a safe driver.

How about a fenced dog run area for trucking companions who need a stretch, parking spaces appropriate for flatbeds, car haulers, oversize and Bobtails. I’ve recently seen Starbucks hang up a shingle inside some truck stops as they close some free standing stores to cut costs, I’ve noticed chiropractor, massage therapists and sometimes a barber shop springing up as a rented space. With the growing number of women truckers and female companions who ride along I’m surprised no one has seen the many opportunities to market items to this new demographic. Spending time in a truck stop could mean days but little is offered except unhealthy food, crime and disturbances.

Smartphones save truckers an enormous amount of trip planning time. Applications like google maps and the new iPhone trucker application make life on the road easier by making it easy to locate scales, services and places to go in-between loads. I use a Smartphone myself to locate parking in a shopping plaza in-between loads where I can find a nail salon, a Starbucks and a decent restaurant.

Sound stupid?  Believe it or Not!

What about all the topless joints along the highway that provide trucker parking and a place for a lonely trucker to relax and spend money?

The same little lady who rents space to do a massage at a truck stop may find just as much additional business with a shiatsu massaging chair and a pedicure for the ladies or men for that matter.

 Last summer while getting a pedicure by an Asian man he said to me “Do you live around here?” and I said “No, I’m just visiting” and he said “Oh, then you must be a truck driver?” he already knew because he sees the opportunities as more female truckers come in from some downtime.

The times have changed, we can only go forward now and develop new industries.  We need to pinpoint who is preventing our success from moving into the future because this is not just a whim or a fad.

We need to save our country, we need to do our own work and invest in our future. Who is for America and who is not? That’s what I want to know, don’t you?

** I wrote this post originally on “Pickens Plan” in August 2009 where a Trucking Discussion Group has been set up and ALL are invited to learn more about Natural Gas and Big Trucks … It is our Future (PS: it was promptly “Borrowed”” also so if you have heard some of these ideas elsewhere …. Um , I am an Inventor, Creator … I don’t have to borrow and steal. I have a good brain.)

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My BIG GREEN Idea

I currently live in Texas, when I am able to get home.

Mostly, I live in my truck delivering Americas Food & Clothing.

California is where I was born & raised.

I am of a Family of Migrant Field Workers who came to California before the Freeways.

I grew up at the beaches in Venice, Oxnard, Malibu, Arcata, Trinidad, and Carlsbad as a child of the Welfare System.

After a life of struggles as a Single Mother, I am now an “Over the Road” Trucker.

I fully understand where the miscommunication lies between Activists, Environmentalists & Truckers because I have lived on both sides of the argument and I have an Idea that can help.

I am New to Trucking and I quickly learned to not tell people I was from California because of the manner Truckers are looked upon in my home state.

Similar to the way I conceal I am Mexican as I travel across the U.S. as a Trucker in areas that Mexicans are also misunderstood.

The Geography of my home state isolates population centers from understanding that Industry requires dirty stinking trucks that work 24/7 to move high dollar freight from Long Beach, San Diego, San Pedro and Bay Area Ports. Agriculture from central California is equally sensitive to move outside the State of California.

Trucking is a detail oriented job that requires much more than driving skill. Good planning to move freight out of California in particular, makes this State this one of the least desirable places to haul freight from if you are a Trucker.

Mostly because California targets Truckers without regard to how difficult the  job they do for Californians and California Industry.

California has some of the worst infrastructure I have seen since I became a Trucker. No Parking is available to accommodate sleepy drivers, especially in areas where freight must be shipped from.

Most people do not understand that truckers are bound by federal laws that require them to stop the truck after 14 hours; at that time the truck is forbidden to move for at least 10 hours so the driver can sleep. If the driver cannot sleep, the driver is a public safety hazard.
The transit time to move freight out of the state at the Truck speed of 55 mph thru the traffic centers of Southern California & geographic locations in Central California affect a driver’s ability to NOT violate Federal “Hours of Service”.
Currently, it is the driver left “holding the bag” if they violate these Federal “Hours of Service” or “HOS”.

Therefore, California places Truck Drivers at risk by NOT providing them adequate space to rest, forcing them to continue to drive out of the state in many cases to get to “Friendlier States” where they can sleep safely.

Sleeping safely includes Idling because currently no other system in California has other options for drivers to sleep properly & have temperature controls in their cabs.

A safe driver is well rested, not roasting or freezing which is the case now because Idling laws do not take into account that Truckers live in their Trucks & must congregate where shippers are located for proper planning to move sensitive California Freight out of the State.

Truckers are targets for Hijackers, especially in this economic downturn.

Much of the Freight from the Port is extremely High-Dollar that must not stop for at least 200 miles from the time the trailer is sealed at the shipper. Freight moves 24/7 so a driver must be on call to drive 24/7, this is why many trucking companies have Terminals in the Long Beach Port & other Port Areas.

Owner-Operators commonly referred to as O/O, do not have anywhere to go so they are forced to sit on city streets like sitting ducks for criminals and law enforcement officers citing them and disturbing their rest periods. Both Company Drivers & O/O must idle to rest & be ready at a moment’s notice.

Many times, arriving at the shipper, the load is not ready. Sometimes I have waited 14 hours, my entire Legal shift for a load at the shipper. I am only paid to drive, nothing else.

Legally, I cannot drive. I must be in the sleeper 10 hours to go back on duty, but with no temperature control? Even if I am in the sleeper in the shippers dock during those 14 hours I cannot have temperature control to sleep properly under California’s current policy.

When I am waiting at my company terminal in Long Beach, Pomona, French Camp waiting for a load, sometimes for days on end I have nowhere to go. I live in my truck to move freight.

Many O/O in this downturned economy do as well. California needs to implement in their Infrastructure plans a “Green” solution for Truckers that everyone can afford, not just targeted at “Mom & Pop” Truckers who have only their Truck in the whole World where they live & work to move California’s Freight out of the State.

Shippers, Receivers, Big Trucking Companies who have Terminals in California & the State of California need to combine forces to reduce emissions. The burden on O/O is too great, they are being singled out because they have just that “Old Truck” that is their life’s blood.

As a Student Trucker I appalled to see companies charging drivers to Idle in Freezing Winter Temperatures at a price higher than Diesel per gallon & the turning around and accepting the “Smart Way EPA Award”!

A true Smart Way would be to require innovation to combine existing technologies in Trucking & provide adequate space for Truckers to park & rest.

This includes at Shipper/Receiver facilities, Terminals & areas for O/O.

A unit is available that can be fitted to the cab of the truck and provide temperature control and power, it is called an APU. Unfortunately, some companies that manufacturer APU units to reduce idling are also struggling to survive in our downturned economy. Others than have been developed, such as a Solar/Wind/Electric Unit cannot get proper funding, even though it has proven to work better in tests than the current best selling APU on the market.

Some Truckers who have purchased expensive APU units to comply with emissions regulations now have an additional concern that they cannot get warranty or repairs done.

Another emissions reducing solution is Idleaire, which is in use at some Travel Plazas but is not a viable option for mass appeal because technology has advanced to the point that their product is quickly becoming obsolete.

Currently, Wal-Mart has a no idle policy on at their Distribution Centers. For Wal-Mart Tractors a unit is provided in the bobtail parking section that keeps the engine block from freezing in Winter Temperatures. This unit currently does not provide temperature control for the driver, only for the engine.

Some Tractors come equipped with bunk heaters, but many Big Trucking Companies buy only the Standard Model for their Fleets that do not have bunk heaters.

In California, Temperatures do not fall low enough to jeopardize the engine block, but they do get to cold & too hot for the driver to rest properly without temperature control.

RV’s can plug into electric power, Ships in port can receive shore power but nothing is available to Truck Drivers to accommodate their comfort for safe driving or proper parking facilities to move freight.

My Idea is a unit of similar size which is currently used by Wal-Mart to provide warmth to the engine block. It is less cumbersome than Idleaire. It would not pump in foreign air like Idleaire which is and added security risk because of Hijackers & Criminals who target Truckers and rob them.

This unit could run off electricity but could be developed into a solar unit, perhaps wind power as well.

When I watched the Long Beach “Green Port “Project & read about other “Green Truck” Projects, I saw a key component was missing when we consider that reducing emissions forgets to address the human being who lives inside the truck, perhaps his or her spouse and companion animal as well.

I read about the Conference entitled “Faster-Freight, Cleaner Air” which did not include Speakers who are Truckers who live this life, http://www.ffcacalifornia.com Only a large company that finances and manufactures trucks and it made me concerned.

In the Port of Long Beach Webcast about The Green Port Project I heard about Innovations for Ships but not for Trucks that move the freight and fight Southern California Traffic to do it.

This problem is easily solved with some truth and understanding. Californians need to understand Industry of this State is conducted away from the beach and the beautiful scenery.

The parking situation is worse in other states as well such as Virginia. When we jump on the “Green” bandwagon, let’s hold everyone accountable.
Companies should not be permitted to buy only the standard model of truck that do not provide for driver comfort and leave them “holding the bag”.

Some companies’ buy a few APU’s and say they are “testing  them” then turn around to accept the Smart Way EPA Award while they are charging their own underpaid drivers to idle when they are freezing or burning up inside that truck trying to sleep, That is wrong.
The money saved by not having a banquet award ceremony for the “Smart Way EPA Award” photo op ceremony, the food and travel expenses for the attendees to slap each other on the back could actually by more APU’s or other true “GREEN” development projects & assistance to create a REAL solution.
My Green Idea is actually a unit I have seen used in a parking area in on the Ohio Turnpike. It is a unit that provides power at a designated parking spot for RV’s. In an alternate parking area there is a vast amount of trucker parking as well, with great facilities for comfort and safety, just one thing is missing. A unit compatible to keep commercial drivers comfortable while they rest.

Why do we put innovations to reduce idling for RV’s which are leisure travelers and not for commercial travelers who move this countries industry?

Hmm? I love to know…. I mean, I KNOW, but Dontcha think if everyone REALLY cared they should think a little more on this?

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