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3/15/2017 4:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Spec Aero Devices With Fuel Calculator

This story appears in the March 13 print edition of Equipment & Maintenance Update, a supplement to Transport Topics.

All fleets want to improve fuel economy, and many turn to aerodynamic devices to attain their fuel-consumption goals, but there’s a lot of trial and error that takes place in the process. Wouldn’t it be nice to know in advance what to expect from aerodynamic supplier offerings?

Marc Clark

Over the past few years, manufacturers have introduced a wide range of aerodynamic devices claiming varying degrees of fuel-economy savings. The U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program has established some guidelines to help evaluate these claims, but ultimately, total actual savings vary dramatically based on a fleet’s typical drive cycle.

Many fleets have several divisions with many drive cycles, making the analysis even more difficult. As a result, equipment owners often do nothing to make aerodynamic improvements, or they specify devices based on guesswork or limited data.

BEST OF MARCH E&MU: More stories, columns

That’s unfortunate, because aerodynamics are unquestionably important to achieving fuel-economy gains. Based on U.S. Department of Energy research, fuel economy is notably affected by aerodynamics at speeds of more than 35 mph. At 65 mph, about 53% of the horsepower generated by a combination vehicle is used just to move the unit through the air.

Add to this the dynamic and complex nature of crosswinds, which are a significant factor in calculating fuel-economy savings of aerodynamic devices. What’s more, results for individual aerodynamic devices cannot be simply added together to obtain a realistic result. Combinations of devices have to be tested together to properly evaluate the combinations’ overall benefit, which further complicates the task at hand.

TMC currently offers three methodologies for testing fuel economy:

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By Marc Clark


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