Chattanooga, Tenn. — Covenant Transport and DClimate recently partnered to test the DClimate Hybrid APU system’s performance on two modern tractors in Covenant’s fleet, in pursuit of providing climate control for driver comfort while preserving battery life and improving idle run time.
In a multi-month trial, DClimate units were place on two Peterbilt 579 Ultraloft tractors in Covenant’s fleet with a goal to surpass current runtime performance over conventional electric HVAC systems.
Continuous uninterrupted system availability, increased runtime through the battery management system, reduced idle times and enhanced fuel efficiency and driver comfort were key variables achieved.
Joanne Bjick, project manager and spokeswoman for DClimate, said DClimate’s units solve real problems for America’s trucking companies.
“Fleets are looking for partners who offer solutions to problems that are cost-effective and keep their goals of driver retention and sustainability on the forefront,” Bjick said. “Finding cost-effective ways to minimize idle, maximize MPG performance without sacrificing the driver experience have always been primary goals with DClimate.
"Our test with Covenant proved the DClimate Hybrid System offered driver comfort with significant fuel savings, and decreased idle times without sacrificing performance,” she added.
Dan Porterfield, vice president of maintenance at Covenant Transport Services, parent company of Covenant Transport, said in trials at Covenant, DClimate units showed capabilities the expedited service provider was looking for in its trucks.
“We knew we wanted an APU that was battery-operated, had the capacity to consistently run through the drivers’ rest breaks and was very reliable, Porterfield said. “If we accomplished that, we knew we’d be providing a benefit to our drivers and lower operating expenses.”
After reviewing both driver testimonials about the HVAC units and reviewing numbers off the trial trucks, “the data proved success early on in the test,” he added.
“And now with more than nine months in over-the-road testing, Covenant is ready to move on with other tractors in the fleet. There are many challenges in a fleet operation --- DClimate has the ability to help us with idle reduction, fuel efficiency improvement and driver comfort,” Porterfield said.
The primary goals and objectives of Covenant’s trial run with DClimate units were to gather driver acceptance of not only the tractor but the Hybrid APU System for rest periods in high heat regions and extreme cold across the United States. The DClimate system was chosen with both driver and fleet in mind, offering 7,000 BTU heat and A/C output, a patented battery management system offering longer life and runtimes, virtually whisper-quiet operation and cost-efficient return on investment.
As part of this pilot program, the DClimate Hybrid system was monitored through a driver survey process and state-of-health applications set by both teams for evaluation. Data reporting back to home base in Chattanooga had real time deliverables of preset goals and objectives by both teams.
The test resulted in driver comfort with single-digit idle times, significant fuel savings, a runtime well past the 10-hour rest period requirements, extended battery life and all with optimized air distribution and airflow.
In their own words
Phil and Vivian Spencer, team drivers at Covenant, drove one of two pilot trucks in the DClimate trial period with Covenant Transport. Vivian Spencer had the following to say about the unit:
Phil and I have worked for Covenant Transport for fifteen-and-a-half years. We have driven several makes and models of trucks during our tenure. We are currently driving a 2019 Peterbilt 579 Ultraloft with an automatic transmission. More importantly, the truck is equipped with DClimate electric HVAC power system.
It is our first time having this equipment onboard. Having this system allows us to rest comfortably, in summer and in winter, without having to idle the truck. The system is so easy to use that it’s virtually set it and forget it.
There is no need to run the engine to keep the batteries charged, with the added benefit of having the stop/start function installed. This stop/start feature allows the truck to start the engine automatically and run for a brief period of time, should the battery voltage fall to 11.8.
This allows the batteries to maintain a level 11.8 to 12 volts or more at all times. That’s real peace-ofmind, just knowing the truck will keep us warm in the winter and cool in the summer, without having to idle the truck. Less idle, less fuel consumption, less wear and tear on the engine.
We’ve seen our idle percentage reduced significantly since the installation of the DClimate system, going from being among the highest percentage of idle time to being nearly at the bottom of the list. The other test truck usually has the lowest idle percentage. We were trained on how to operate and maintain the system, to get the maximum benefit from DClimate.
Honestly, it has become a vital part of our trucking journey. A well-rested driver is essential to being safe while sitting in the driver’s seat and with DClimate, we are able to get good quality rest. So again, peace of mind, just knowing that we can sleep quietly and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day. Phil and I both have come to depend on DClimate.
He likes it warmer when he sleeps but I like it cooler so the system gives the sleeper complete control of the air temperature in the bunk area. Sometimes we both have to compromise but that’s what we’ve been doing our whole lives.
When we were asked to complete a driver survey, it was easy. We have only good things to say about DClimate. We have had a positive experience using the system because it’s been easy to use and it’s never had any mechanical issues. The project manager, Joanne Bjick, has been a tremendous asset to us during this test period. She frequently checks in just to make sure all is well. We appreciated her commitment. DClimate has made our little ‘home away from home’ feel more like our real home.
For more information about Covenant Transport, visit covenanttransport.com.
For more information about DClimate, visit dclimate.com.
About Covenant Transport Services
Covenant Transport Services is a registered tradename of Covenant Transport, Inc., Covenant Transport Solutions, Inc., Southern Refrigerated Transport, Inc. and Star Transportation, Inc. Covenant Transport Services represents more than 30 years of expertise and leadership in expedited and team truckload; temperature-controlled truckload; dedicated truckload; and managed transportation services. Covenant Transport Services is represented by a national enterprise-wide sales team. Covenant Transportation Group, Inc. (CTG) is the parent holding company for several transportation providers which offer premium services for customers throughout the United States and Mexico. The consolidated group includes operations from Covenant Transport, Inc. and Covenant Transport Solutions, Inc., of Chattanooga, Tenn.; Landair Transport and Landair Logistics of Greeneville, Tenn.; Southern Refrigerated Transport, Inc., of Texarkana, Ark.; and Star Transportation, Inc., of Nashville, Tenn. In addition, Transport Enterprise Leasing, LLC, of Chattanooga, Tenn. is an integral affiliated company providing revenue equipment sales and leasing services to the trucking industry. CTG’s Class A common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Select market under the symbol, “CVTI”.
DClimate Inc, is based in Maryland Heights, Missouri. Founded in 2016, the leadership team, steeped in industry experience, set out to address the shortcomings of existing diesel & electric auxiliary power unit solutions. The result was DClimate's range of Hybrid Auxiliary Power Unit solutions. DClimate's Hybrid architecture combines high efficiency HVAC modules with a patented battery management & rapid recharge system. This unique system design enables continuous, uninterrupted auxiliary power unit availability with the lowest operational cost of any APU technology on the market. The DClimate system delivers a high quality driver experience, no matter how severe the conditions, and does so while delivering the lowest total cost of ownership & full 50 state emissions compliance.