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Interstate Distribution begins massive trailer side skirt installation


SEATTLE, Wash. — Interstate Distributor Co., Freight Wing and the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center (PPRC), have announced the beginning of one of the industry’s largest installations of trailer side skirts. Partially funded by an $875,972 grant from the EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) in a cost-sharing program, Interstate began installing 2,058 Freight Wing Aeroflex side skirts in July at its maintenance facilities.

“We greatly appreciate this opportunity presented to us by the EPA, and to work with PPRC and Freight Wing,” said Lee Owens, senior vice-president of maintenance and facilities for Interstate Distributor.  “We expect great success with the project.”

According to Owens, the Freight Wing side skirts give a lot of bang for the buck when it comes to reducing fuel consumption and emissions. “We’ve tested the side skirts for the past few years and have seen up to a 5% improvement in fuel economy depending upon the route and the speed we’re travelling. The higher the average speed, the better the performance. We also tested durability – a huge factor for us in deciding which side skirts to purchase. We chose the Freight Wing product because it was more resilient than others we tested.”

The side skirts are constructed of durable plastic panels, combined with a flexible bracing system designed to absorb and deflect both ground and side impacts.

Owens said that without the EPA grant, Interstate Distributor would be seeing a return on investment of less than two years. With the grant, the time is cut by a third. “We think it’s a great thing that the EPA is stepping up to help companies implement fuel and emission savings technology,” he said.  “Everyone wins and we hope grants continue for our industry to help the trucking community and the environment.”

According to Sean Graham, president of Freight Wing, the company’s Aeroflex side skirts reduce aerodynamic drag by preventing wind from hitting the trailer’s wheels and axles. They have been SmartWay verified and tested to increase fuel economy by 7% in independent SAE/TMC J1321 track testing conducted by Energotest 2008. “Track tests are done in a controlled environment at constant highway speeds. In the real world, results can vary due to different average speeds, applications and driving environments. Fleets and owner/operators typically see anywhere from 4 to 7% improvements, with high mileage applications getting the best results.”

According to PPRC, the Interstate project is expected to save 1.1 million gallons of diesel a year, over 16 million gallons over the lifespan of the skirts, while preventing 182,633 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Dennis McLerran, EPA regional administrator in Seattle, PPRC offers both health and economic benefits to local communities when they help make trucks more streamlined and fuel-efficient.  “These aerodynamic upgrades reduce fuel consumption and save money,” said McLerran.  “By helping fleets update their vehicles, PPRC, through the DERA grant, provides much-needed assistance to the transportation industry, while reducing diesel pollution health risks in the communities it serves.”

Another EPA DERA opportunity is expected to be announced in October, according to officials. Fleets need to work with a non-profit organization, such as PPRC, to apply for funding.