LTL carrier Pitt Ohio is doubling down on electric, at least at its Parma, Ohio facility.
The company has installed wind and solar-power electric generating systems, and battery storage on site, which is providing over 90 percent of the power needed to operate the terminal 24/6, notes Jim Fields, the company’s chief operating officer.
And last month they took delivery of their first two all-electric Class 7 straight trucks from Volvo. Those trucks also will be charged using power produced by the on-site wind and solar generation systems.
The new all-electric units, both 26-foot straight trucks, were put into local pickup and delivery (P&D) service. They come with some nuances that drivers are just now starting to learn, Fields explained. “They’re in sort of a shake-down cruise out in the real world with our drivers,” Fields said, who noted the EV trucks are exceeding quiet, handle somewhat differently, have different tires, and have much faster acceleration than diesel units.
“The first thing we coached our drivers on was they have to be super-attentive to their surroundings, especially in the city with pedestrians around, even more so than when driving a diesel,” he noted. “They have to focus on being ultra-defensive. The EV trucks are so quiet, other motorists and pedestrians can’t hear them coming like they could diesels.”
Another unique feature is the lift-gate on each truck. They’re powered by solar panels on the roof of the freight box. Both units have automatic transmissions as well.
Fields said that they first ran the units in test runs without freight, to give the drivers a feel for them and to identify any potential operating obstacles. Then they carefully examined the types of city runs, distances, terrain, customer mix, payloads and cube utilization. That informed them on where best to deploy the trucks, which can run a full shift and up to 200 miles on a single charge.
And despite the extra weight of the batteries, payload was not an issue, he added. “Most of the time in today’s world, with freight being lighter and bulkier, trucks tend to cube out before they weight out.”
With a couple of weeks of operation now under their belt, Fields says they continue to learn – and be impressed by how well drivers have adapted to them, and their reliability. “So far they are solid as a rock,” Fields noted. “We bought ‘em, so we fully expect them to be with us for the full duty cycle and duration of a regular diesel.”
Gary Frantz is a contributing editor for CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly and a veteran communications executive with more than 30 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industries. He's served as communications director and strategic media relations counselor for companies including XPO Logistics, Con-way, Menlo Logistics, GT Nexus, Circle International Group, and Consolidated Freightways. Gary is currently principal of GNF Communications LLC, a consultancy providing freelance writing, editorial and media strategy services. He's a proud graduate of the Journalism program at California State University–Chico.