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5 min read.

Why Your Fleet Should Consider Truck Platooning

May 9, 2024 5:34:51 PM

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Commercial vehicles, especially large trucks, are not known for their fuel efficiency. They carry heavy loads, and as a result, they require a lot of fuel to get going. Because of this, trucking companies are often looking for new ways to improve fuel efficiency for their fleets and reduce costs. One strategy that can help boost fuel efficiency is truck platooning. But what is truck platooning? Truck platooning involves commercial trucks traveling as a convoy, coordinated by technologies like vehicle-to-vehicle communication and automated driving systems. Truck platooning, or vehicle platooning, offers many benefits like improved fuel efficiency, reduced traffic congestion, and even the potential for greater safety on the road. In this blog, we'll explain what is platooning, how it works, potential benefits, and what the future of vehicle platooning could look like.

What is truck platooning?

Truck platooning is when a group of commercial trucks travel closely together in a convoy, typically at a constant speed, using advanced technologies. These technologies include vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems and automated driving assistance features. The platooning trucks follow each other at a short distance which allows them to take advantage of reduced aerodynamic drag and fuel savings. The lead platooned truck has sensors and communication systems and sets the pace for the following trucks' movements. This coordination increases fuel efficiency and improves safety by reducing accidents and improving traffic flow on highways. Truck platooning is a step forward in optimizing trucking efficiency while reducing environmental impact and operational costs.

How does truck platooning work?

Truck platooning is mostly feasible for larger trucking companies with the financial resources to invest heavily in technology. These companies can equip their fleets with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, which form the technology for platooning. Successful platooning requires reliable vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems and algorithms to coordinate the movements of trucks within the convoy.

6 Benefits of Truck Platooning

Truck platooning offers many benefits for the trucking industry. By enabling trucks to travel closely together in convoys, platooning reduces aerodynamic drag, leading to improved fuel efficiency. The platooned group of trucks also improves safety by promoting better driving behaviors, reducing the risk of accidents, and optimizing traffic flow on highways. Below are six ways that truck platooning can benefit the trucking industry:

1. Improves Fuel Economy

Truck platooning can significantly improve fuel economy through less aerodynamic drag. When trucks travel closely together in a convoy, the lead truck creates a streamlined airflow, reducing resistance for the following trucks. This allows the subsequent vehicles to expend less energy to maintain speed, leading to fuel savings. Platooning enables efficient driving patterns, with synchronized acceleration and braking, which also adds to fuel efficiency. Overall, truck platooning can contribute to better fuel economy improvements for fleet operations.

2. Increases Vehicle Capacity on Highways

Truck platooning can increase vehicle capacity on highways by optimizing the use of available road space. When trucks travel closely together in a convoy, they occupy less space on the road compared to if they were spaced out individually. This allows for more space on the highways, which reduces traffic congestion. By reducing the following distance between trucks, platooning maximizes road infrastructure while maintaining highway safety standards. As a result, highways can accommodate a greater volume of freight traffic, leading to improved efficiency and reduced congestion.

3. Increases Customer Satisfaction

Truck platooning can increase customer satisfaction by improving delivery reliability and efficiency. By optimizing fuel economy and reducing transit times, platooning allows fleets to offer more dependable and timely delivery services to their customers. The streamlined operations and reduced costs associated with platooning can also translate into more competitive pricing for freight services. The safety features of platooning also help lower the risk of accidents and disruptions, further adding to customer confidence in the reliability of shipments. Overall, truck platooning allows companies to provide more consistent and efficient transportation solutions, leading to higher customer retention.

4. Boosts Safety

Truck platooning can also improve safety for drivers. The proximity between vehicles in a platoon allows for faster reaction times to potential hazards, as the convoy operates as a single unit. Truck platoons also often have advanced driver assistance technologies, like automatic emergency braking and lane-keeping assist, which can help prevent accidents. The synchronized movement within a platooning truck reduces the likelihood of abrupt lane changes or sudden braking, lowering the risk of collisions. Additionally, the reduced workload resulting from automated driving assistance in a platoon can lower driver exhaustion, improving alertness and overall safety. Overall, by promoting smoother, more coordinated driving behaviors and leveraging advanced safety features, truck platooning contributes to better safety for both truck drivers and other road users.

5. Reduces Operating Costs

By optimizing fuel efficiency through reduced aerodynamic drag and synchronized driving patterns, platooning helps lower fuel consumption, which is a significant expense for fleet operators. Platooning can also decrease maintenance costs by promoting smoother driving behaviors and reducing wear and tear on vehicles. Additionally, the improved efficiency and reliability of platooning can lead to reduced idle times, shorter delivery times, and overall increased productivity, further lowering operating expenses. By enhancing fuel efficiency, minimizing maintenance costs, and optimizing fleet operations, truck platooning can help fleets reduce their operating expenses and improve profitability.

6. Promotes Innovation

Tuck platooning can be a catalyst for more technological advancements in the trucking industry. Vehicle platooning can promote innovation by driving advancements in vehicle automation, connectivity, and transportation technology. As companies invest in developing and implementing platooning systems, they encourage innovation in areas such as vehicle-to-vehicle communication, sensor technology, and automated driving systems. These innovations not only improve the effectiveness of platooning itself but also have broader applications in other aspects of transportation and logistics.

The Next Stages of Truck Platooning

According to studies, truck platooning is expected to grow significantly by 2030. But before truck platooning becomes commonplace in the industry, technology will need to be fully developed and deployed, rules and regulations will likely need to be implemented, and best practices will need to be shared. This involves collaboration between government agencies, industry stakeholders, and technology providers to establish guidelines for vehicle-to-vehicle communication, automation standards, and liability frameworks. Fleet managers can start putting platooning into place by conducting fleet assessments to identify suitable opportunities, investing in the necessary technology infrastructure, and prioritizing driver training initiatives to ensure safe and effective operation for platooning systems.

Top Fleet Fuel Payment Solutions from P-Fleet

Truck platooning has the potential to offer many benefits. It has the ability to improve fuel efficiency, enhance safety, and optimize traffic flow, making it a potential game-changer in the trucking industry. When looking for innovative ways to improve your trucking operations, it’s important to consider fuel card solutions in addition to vehicle platooning. The best fuel cards for fleets offer tools to effectively manage fuel expenses, streamline administrative tasks, and access valuable data. P-Fleet's trucking fuel card solutions can help businesses save even more on fuel costs. By combining the fuel-saving benefits of truck platooning with fleet cards from P-Fleet, companies can unlock greater efficiency and profitability in their operations. Contact us today to learn how our fuel card solutions can improve your trucking operations.

Read The Fleet Manager's Guide to Trucking Logistics →

Kira Odlozil

Written by Kira Odlozil

Based in San Diego, CA, Kira Odlozil is the Digital Content Coordinator at P-Fleet. She writes about fuel management, the trucking industry and business-related topics. When Kira isn’t writing, she’s cooking up new recipes, doing yoga, traveling or all of the above.