TULSA, Okla., Jan. 19, 2016 – When Troy Paul talks about what it takes to be successful in the trucking industry, his philosophy is simple. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “You have to persevere in the good times and bad, and you have to always be open to change and improvement.”
As owner of open-deck carrier Paul Transportation, which operates 250 trucks including 200 company trucks with the remainder owner-operators, Paul has seen a transformation in efficiency. The Tulsa-based company is now standardizing on the Kenworth T680 with the new 76-inch mid-roof sleeper. The trucks are powered by PACCAR MX-13 engines rated at 455-hp with Eaton Fuller Advantage 10-speed automated transmissions. Paul, who has been in trucking since 1993 and incorporated Paul Transportation in 2002, said the Great Recession awoke the need for change in the company.
With the economy being what it was, we had to focus on improving margins and reducing operating costs to survive,” he said. “We had always run the big hoods as a way to attract and retain drivers – and to really project a great image. Our trucks did look sharp. But, we knew we had to cut costs in fuel and in operational costs, plus we wanted to improve uptime.”
Several years ago and before the Kenworth T680 was introduced, Paul worked with three different truck OEMs to provide tractors closely spec’d to compete in an apples-to-apples comparison.
”After 12 months we had our results and Kenworth came out on top,” he said. “We had different metrics we tracked and we saw Kenworth as the clear winner. The T660, powered by the PACCAR MX-13 engine with a 10-speed manual transmission, was 7 percent better in fuel economy than the other brands. What’s more, we had $14,000 in out-of-pocket (non warranty-covered) costs with one brand, $6,000 with another, and only $2,000 with Kenworth. We also looked at dealership coverage and OEM support and we found that our dealer, MHC Kenworth – Tulsa, really offered a superior footprint with MHC’s network of more than 60 locations throughout the central U.S. and Southeastern states. They worked with us as partners and really showed they cared about our best interests.”
With results firmly established, the first step in efficiency improvements was concluded with a move to Kenworth. With more than 100 PACCAR MX-13 powered T660s in operation, Paul saw his fleet consistently in the 7-mpg range. While happy with those numbers, Paul had a goal to bring down operating costs to be the lowest in the industry.
“That’s when we started looking at spec’ing the T680 with the new 76-inch mid-roof sleeper package,” he said. “Through our relationship with MHC Kenworth – Tulsa and our in-house fuel efficiency analyst team, a specification was built and tested. The Kenworth T680 powered by the PACCAR MX-13 with the Eaton Fuller Advantage Series automated transmission spec showed great results.
“We’re leapfrogging where we were,” he said. “The trucks aren’t even broken in, and we’re running blended fuel now due to winter setting in, yet we’re seeing improved fuel economy in the 7-10 percent range out of the gate. And, the driver acceptance has been really something – they love the truck. Drivers come to us because of our Kenworth fleet. We think that these new T680s will help us reduce our turnover numbers and attract even more drivers.”
With an on-time delivery rate at 98.3 percent, Paul Transportation rigs deliver throughout the southwest, typically with building products, such as lumber and steel. In Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, Paul’s combinations can max out at 85,000 and in some cases, 90,000 pounds.
“Even with those loads we’re seeing our fuel economy* in the 7’s with our best drivers able to get in the low 8’s during the fall months,” said Paul. “We’re running wide-base tires and the automatics help with our numbers, plus we keep our idle times low at just 6 percent. We do have a fuel incentive program in place, so we’re sharing our savings with our drivers.”
Paul, who still carries his CDL, said the first truck he ever drove was a cabover on his dad’s farm.
“I would have to say there is a night-and-day difference between that and the T680,” he chuckled. “The new Kenworth has a car-like feel in the way it drives and how quiet it is,” he said. “It’s a very relaxed drive and you can just see the quality and driver amenities this truck offers. It’s important to us to offer a truck that our drivers want to drive, and this is it. Kenworth spent a lot of money developing this truck and it’s no surprise its market share has grown. We’re not the only ones moving toward the T680.”
With the mid-roof sleeper, versus standard high-roof, aerodynamic drag is reduced over loads hauled by Paul Transportation, which can increase fuel efficiency by up to 5 percent. In addition, the sleeper offers 6-1/2 feet of headroom, and offers a spacious work environment.
“It really is a comfortable sleeper,” said Paul. “And it offers plenty of storage, which is something drivers can never have too much of.”
While Paul Transportation’s on-time delivery rate is at an enviable level, the company thinks that number can actually get better.
“Our new trucks have Kenworth TruckTech+, which will give us, and our dealer, fault code interpretation and a way to really understand what’s happening with our trucks on the road so we can make better decisions,” said Paul. “The trucks with the units are only 90 days old, so no fault codes have come in yet, but as the trucks age, TruckTech+ will be put to use. We’re excited about how remote diagnostics will help our operation and keep our rigs moving.”
According to Paul, while many pieces of the puzzle to reduce operating costs and increase efficiencies have been completed, the company is far from done. “I like the path we’re on,” he said. “But, we’re always trying to improve and get better. There is always new technology coming out that could have an impact on our business. So, the marathon continues. We haven’t crossed the finish line yet.”
Kenworth Truck Company is a PACCAR company and the manufacturer of The World’s Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth’s website is at Kenworth.com.
*Individual fuel economy improvement will vary depending on use, road conditions and other factors.