We spoke with Director of Transportation Andrew Gerrard about 48forty’s partnership with the EPA’s SmartWay® program. Read on to learn more about how 48forty is committed to operating sustainably, and in turn, helping our customers lower their carbon footprint and achieve their sustainability goals in a cost-efficient manner. Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
What is the U.S EPA SmartWay Transport Partnership?
SmartWay is an EPA program that allows carriers, suppliers, and shippers to voluntarily provide information about their fleets, fuel usage, mileage, and more. It allows us to compare our fleet to similar size fleets so that we can better understand how to reduce our emissions according to our fuel efficiency.
Why did 48forty decide to become a SmartWay partner?
As Director of Transportation, I oversee the entire private fleet operation. This operation consists of 442+ tractors; 7,000+ trailers; and approximately 430 drivers. I oversee the safety, environment, costs, and everything else involved in the operation of our private fleet. SmartWay is an opportunity for us to demonstrate and advance our commitment to the environment.
As part of our continuous improvement process at 48forty, we constantly explore ways to increase the fuel efficiency of our fleet. Greater fuel efficiency is better for our environment and our bottom line, helping to decrease emissions from our trucks and reducing expenses for the organization. As an additional part of our commitment to the environment, we replace trucks every six to seven years to make sure we have the most fuel-efficient models available. Now that we are a SmartWay partner, we have access to more information and opportunities to improve our fuel and fleet efficiency.
One of the benefits of the SmartWay program is that it allows partner companies to compare and contrast sustainability efforts. By providing our own information, and having others do the same, we begin to see new ideas that other companies have been using to stay efficient. From there, we have the option of implementing those ideas if we feel that they would be helpful to the environment and our fleet. Additionally, over time, all of this information sharing can lead to improvements in heavy vehicle manufacturing so that the vehicles themselves become more fuel efficient as well.
How is 48forty prioritizing building a more sustainable fleet going forward?
We’re always looking at ways to build a more effective fleet. For example, about a year and a half ago, all of our trucks were leased on a seven-year term. Since becoming a SmartWay partner, we have grown tremendously and now own 25 percent of those trucks. With this in mind, we have built a six-year capital plan so that we can continuously upgrade our vehicles, as needed. As we go forward, we plan to continue to move into more efficient and safer trucks with state-of-the-art equipment and collision avoidance systems.
Additionally, there are real business benefits to having a more sustainable fleet – for both 48forty and our customers. Consider fuel usage itself. Recent high fuel prices have made fuel efficiency more important than ever. While we charge a small fuel surcharge, it doesn’t cover the cost increases that we’ve seen. Our older equipment ran about 5.5 - 6 miles per gallon, while our newer equipment runs on 7 miles per gallon. This extra 1 - 1.5 miles may seem small at first, but it makes a big difference, especially since our average tractor is running 250 - 300 miles a day. This improved efficiency positively impacts the bottom line as well as helps reduce the emissions our trucks produce.
Our commitment to sustainability is a critical part of servicing our customers’ pallet needs and their supply chains. We operate one of the nation’s largest private fleets, which means we can make a big impact when it comes to reducing fuel consumption. We’re proud to be a member of the U.S. EPA SmartWay® Transport Partnership and are excited about what’s to come.
Andrew Gerrard is Director of Transportation at 48forty Solutions. He has 30+ years of total experience across the transportation and supply chain industries. Andrew earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Missouri -Columbia.