Con-way Freight slows trucks down

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Con-way Freight announced today, March 10, that it has turned back the speed governors on its 8,400-tractor fleet in a move to improve fuel conservation and reduce carbon emissions. The company has adjusted the governors on its engines to run at a maximum of 62 miles per hour, down three miles per hour from previous settings.

The less-than-truckload hauler says the move is expected to reduce consumption of diesel fuel from its over-the-road tractor fleet by nearly 3.2 million gallons annually while eliminating about 72 million pounds of carbon emissions from the environment; the carbon gas reduction is equivalent to removing nearly 7,300 automobiles from America’s highways.

“Freight transportation, by its nature, is a significant consumer of carbon-based energy resources,” says John G. Labrie, president of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Con-way Freight. “Yet it also is one where if we look creatively at how we operate the business, we can find and adopt practices that reduce our carbon footprint and help the bottom line. Fuel conservation and cost savings aside, this speed reduction initiative will have the single-largest impact on carbon footprint reduction of any operational or business practice change available to us.”

Con-way Freight has been a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Program since 2006. SmartWay is a voluntary partnership between the EPA and freight industry businesses aimed at reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 33 to 66 million metric tons and nitrogen oxide by up to 200,000 tons, as well as saving up to 150 million barrels of oil per year. The program officially opened to all companies in February 2004.

“I commend Con-way Freight for integrating clean, innovative strategies and technologies into its fleet operations to reduce energy use and meet its SmartWay environmental commitments,” says Margo T. Oge, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality.

Labrie emphasized that the move does not reduce Con-way’s service standards in any way. “With our highly engineered network and, in particular, the skill and professionalism of our driver sales representatives, we have been able to implement this change without any impact on our industry-leading transit times and on-time performance,” he says. “Our people are making this happen. The success and results are a testament to their integrity and commitment.”

The speed reduction move supports a larger enterprisewide sustainability initiative launched by parent company Con-way Inc. Under this venture, the company is rolling out a formal program in 2008 to promote sustainability across its business units. The effort began earlier this year with benchmarking of current operations, and researching methods and best practices that can contribute to sustainability goals.

Con-way’s objective with the program is to instill awareness in its work force of sustainability as a fundamental corporate process, focused on continuous improvement and adoption of sustainable business practices that remove costs and waste while reducing impact on the environment.