SHARON – Most drivers with Chadderton Trucking don’t travel farther than 50 miles from the terminal in Sharon.
But for trips as far away as Baltimore or Newark, N.J., drivers are required to take some time to rest in the unit for eight to 10 hours. During those breaks to sleep or have something to eat, Chadderton president Jerry Nighswander said truck drivers used to rely on idling their engines to stay comfortable.
“In the old days you’d just idle the engine for heating and air, but now you’re not allowed to let the engine idle,” Nighswander said.
Employing about 47 people with a fleet of about 20 trucks, Chadderton Trucking, founded in 1929, primarily transports pipe and steel coils. The company recently purchased three new trucks, and like all the equipment used by the company since 1998, these trucks have an important feature — alternate power units, or APUs.
APUs are used on tractor-trailer trucks to help decrease the amount of diesel fuel burned to power climate control systems inside the cabin, but they also provide an economic and an environmental benefit as well, Nighswander said.
“To have a truck idling, that burns about a gallon of fuel an hour, so if it’s idling for eight hours, that’s eight gallons of fuel,” Nighswander said. “The fuel itself costs $4 a gallon, and that can be hard on the engine.”
By comparison, an APU can run five hours on a single gallon of fuel. Based on the reduced fuel consumption, Nighswander said he estimates the units pay for themselves in about 12 to 13 months.
Along with the heating or air conditioning, the APUs operate any electronics in the truck, including refrigerators or microwaves, or even be set to turn on a certain time before a truck driver arrives for work. Without the APUs, drivers wouldn’t have heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer unless the truck’s engine was idling, Nighswander said.
“I wouldn’t want to be in there, and I wouldn’t want the drivers in there either,” he said.
To help offset the costs of the equipment, Chadderton was awarded a $7,000 grant through the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Small Business Advantage Program. The annual program provides 50 percent matching grants of up to $9,500, the press release states.
However, Chadderton is not the only local trucking company that has experienced a shift in technology over the years. Yourga Trucking Inc. in West Middlesex has also seen some changes to its fleet.
While the 55 or 56 trucks at Yourga also have the auxiliary power generators, computerization has also became a major factor in the trucking industry over the last 10 years — something that mechanic Ron Engel never expected to have to learn when he started at Yourga in 1979.
“Back when I started, you wouldn’t have even thought of putting a computer into a truck,” Engel said.
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