Kenworth T680s Provide High MPG, Low Driver Turnover for Refrigerated Carrier Hoosier Air
Wade Day is a second-generation lifer. He’s been in the trucking business for as long as he can remember – following in the footsteps of his father, Doug Day, who began his own career driving coal trucks in Kentucky.
When Wade was old enough to drive, he helped in the construction of Interstate 65 in Indiana by piloting a dump truck for his father’s small company. That business eventually morphed into Day’s Express, which focused on cross-country refrigerated transport and grew to a fleet of 225 tractors. After college, Day worked there in various operational capacities, including dispatch.
Wade Day is shown with some of Hoosier Air Transport’s Kenworth T680s with PACCAR MX-13 engines.
“My Dad saw good times and bad, and ended up having to fold Day’s Express in 1991,” recalled Day. “He started Hoosier Air soon after that, and I went to work for him there in 1997.” His father chose the “Air” part of the company’s name because he liked the air-ride suspension, which helps give cargo a better ride down the road.
According to Wade, all of that experience helped when he took over Hoosier Air Transport from his father in 2012. “Up until three years ago, we were running general freight,” said Day. “But we’ve since switched over to a full refrigerated fleet, which matches well with our penchant for customer service and on-time delivery.”
Today, Hoosier Air operates 85 tractors and 100 reefer trailers. The company has standardized on the Kenworth T680 with 76-inch sleeper, powered by the PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 455 hp and optimized with the Eaton® Fuller Advantage® 10-speed automated transmission. The T680s – 32 so far – were purchased through Kenworth of Indianapolis.
“We will match our service against anyone in the industry,” said Day. “And we feel the T680 helps us in that regard. Our on-time delivery rate is 99.9 percent and our driver turnover is less than 20 percent – even with our drivers on the road six- to 10 days at a time. The T680 certainly helps lower our turnover, as the drivers absolutely love the trucks. But, we also run a drop-and-hook operation so there are no delays – drivers are always on the go making money.”
From an operational standpoint, Hoosier Air has seen a significant boost in fuel economy over the trucks the T680s replaced. “We’ve been a SmartWay fleet, so we have trailer skirts and even boat tails, plus SmartWay-verified tires. Prior to the T680, our drivers were getting up to the mid 7s in fuel economy. Out of the gate with the T680 and MX-13 engine, we saw an 8 mpg* average. Our very top driver has been averaging 9 mpg. I remember when I first started in the business – trucks were averaging 4 to 4.5 mpg. What we’re getting now is something else.”
Driver comfort has never been better as well, said Day. “It’s the ‘asked-for’ truck in our fleet,” he said. “The trucks are so quiet with the MX-13 engine and they’re very comfortable to drive. We’re also noticing the wider cab makes a difference – there’s more room between the seats, and we really like the passenger seat, which swivels 180 degrees. We run 15 driver teams and the truck is great for solo or team operations.”
While the T680s are less than a year old and have been ultra reliable, Day said keeping the trucks rolling down the road has taken a quantum leap forward thanks to Kenworth’s TruckTech+ remote diagnostics. The system interprets fault codes and provides fleet managers and drivers with needed information. Email notifications to customers may instruct the driver to keep driving – no action required; keep driving and have the fault addressed during the next service interval; head to a dealer for service; or pull over to prevent damage. If the customer needs to take the truck in for service, the system maps out the locations of the three closest repair facilities.
“TruckTech+ gives us real-time information and that’s vital to keep our fleet running,” said Day. “I feel remote diagnostics is one of the biggest advancements we’ve seen in truck technology in many years. It’s as if we were driving blind before, but now we have visibility. TruckTech+ is key for us in knowing exactly what’s happening with our trucks – whether we need immediate service, or if we can continue on and handle the issue at a later time. Before, if the fault light came on, our driver would call dispatch and we’d have to spend time figuring out what was happening. With TruckTech+ we know and can make immediate decisions.”
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Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth’s Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth is a PACCAR company.
*Individual fuel economy improvement will vary depending on use, road conditions and other factors.