Boyle Orders 40 Trucks Equipped with AC System

Oct. 1, 2000
IF TOM BOYLE, president of Boyle Transportation, had his way, he'd have his 140-plus drivers pull into his terminals or truckstops, shut down their engines,

IF TOM BOYLE, president of Boyle Transportation, had his way, he'd have his 140-plus drivers pull into his terminals or truckstops, shut down their engines, plug in extension cords to "shore power," and stay cozy with an AC (alternating current)-powered HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) system. All this while enjoying a hot meal cooked in a microwave oven.

A pipe dream? "Tom has realistic expectations," says Brian Lawrence, Xantrex Technology's heavy-duty truck market segment manager. "Bergstrom and others are working on making an AC-powered HVAC system a reality, and truckstops have shown an interest in making power available at their truckstops. And the big barrier has already been hurdled - truck OEMs are now offering AC infrastructure as an option. If enough truckers and fleets ask for truckstop electrification and an AC-powered HVAC system, the industry will respond. They just need to ask."

Boyle was one of the first fleets to take advantage of AC infrastructure, recently taking delivery of 40 Freightliner Century Class S/Ts equipped with Xantrex Technology's Truckpower inverter/chargers, which converts DC (direct current) into AC. The system also comes with a shore power connection, allowing Boyle's trucks to "plug in" at any of Boyle's four terminals. This enables the trucks' batteries to be recharged while running all the AC and DC loads.

Move Seen as Logical Boyle, whose Billerica, Massachusetts-based company hauls hazardous material coast-to-coast, says AC power is a logical move for the trucking industry. "I've been a powerboat enthusiast for years, and AC power is second nature. When a yacht pulls into a slip, the boat goes from using battery power to running AC. All it takes is an extension cord to connect to shore power. This runs all the loads and recharges the batteries for the next trip. Why not do this in the trucking industry?"

According to Boyle, installation of the Truckpower inverter/chargers will do three things for his company. "First and foremost, it's for our drivers," he said. "Our newest trucks feature components that will make their life easier and safer on the road. AC power will allow them to cook in the trucks, plus have more comforts of home. Our driver turnover rate is near zero, and we'd like to keep it that way.

Maintenance Benefits "Second," Boyle said, "it's better from a maintenance standpoint. A majority of our drivers had been installing inverters (purchased at truckstops), and installation problems were causing problems with batteries. The inverters were draining the batteries to a point where the batteries couldn't be recharged. What's more, it made us uneasy knowing that a shipment could be delayed due to a dead battery.

"Lastly," Boyle said, "it will allow our drivers to use space heaters when they're connected to shore power. Many of our drivers - especially those who have an early start - prefer to stay in the trucks at our terminals even though we pay for motels. Life will be a little easier if they don't have to idle all night long and can use a space heater to stay warm. Plus, it will save our company some money in fuel. But I'll tell you what: I wish truckstops would have plug-ins. There is so much idling going on in the winter, and the air gets so bad. I know for myself, I'd have a hard time sleeping there. Many truckstops offer cable TV and phone lines. Why not electricity as well so we can stop having to idle?"

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