Ontario technology addresses $3 billion a year problem

Idle management system saves on fuel and maintenance costs

An Ancaster, Ont., company has invented a solution to a $3 billion a year problem in Canada. That’s the approximate value of how much fuel is wasted annually in this country due to engine idling.

Idling also contributes to increased engine wear and higher maintenance costs, as well as higher greenhouse gas emissions. According to data from Ford, one hour of idle is equal to 53 kilometres of driving for engine wear and tear.

Why it matters: With fuel costs rising and margins tight, farmers and others in the agriculture business may need to consider options to reduce fuel use and save on maintenance costs.

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An obvious solution might just be turning the engines off, but that’s not feasible for many work, industrial and agricultural medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that idle to maintain power to onboard systems or occupant comfort.

That’s what led Canadian Extreme Climate Systems Ltd. to develop the Canadian-patented GRIP Idle Management System. Designed to work in cars, trucks, off-road vehicles, anything with a combustion engine, GRIP involves the installation of an additional battery that will avoid running the engine without shutting everything down entirely.

“Using GRIP, we are creating a hybrid using a battery,” said Duncan Curd, vice-president of sales and marketing. “We have fuel savings if we reduce hours the engine is running and can extend vehicle life and resale if we reduce engine wear.”

GRIP activates once a vehicle has stopped and is in park or neutral, and the auxiliary battery serves as the power source to keep needed systems running. GRIP also uses heat from the engine through an installed DC coolant pump running off the battery.

An added anti-theft feature means GRIP can be used safely in a locked vehicle. If someone breaks in and attempts to put the engine into gear, the engine will stall.

“We’re also now using telematics to provide information to a cloud-based portal that will let you monitor your fleet,” Curd said.

“It’s not possible to hack the system because we are not controlling the vehicle. The system is passive and listens to the vehicle’s systems.”

Currently, a little more than half of the company’s business is in the United States, but it is scaling up for expansion on both sides of the border.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is installing the equipment into its vehicles in Saskatchewan, and the company is also in talks with a large livestock transporter in Western Canada.

The system costs about C$4,000 and installation is typically after market by dealers; ignition wires are the only invasive connection to the vehicle with all other components using plug and play connections. Components are assembled in the company’s Ancaster facility.

London Hydro installed GRIP on five Ford F-550 linemen and five Dodge Ram 1500 supervisor trucks in January 2018, and the results have been impressive for the utility.

“After the first six months, we pulled reports and saw we were looking at 56 per cent in savings on fuel, never mind (savings on) maintenance like oil changes, exhausts not plugging up and emissions within spec,” said London Hydro Fleet Supervisor Mark Valade. “You can’t walk away from something like that.”

Every new truck joining the fleet now, he added, has the GRIP system installed.

According to Curd, Toronto Hydro is also using the system and its case study results showed a 23 per cent reduction in fuel consumption and about 1.1 million kilometres less engine wear.

Police in Columbus, Ohio, make up the largest GRIP installation to date, and have reduced their fuel use by 33 per cent to achieve Green Fleet status from Clean Fuels Ohio.

“A lot of the progressive municipalities want this; cities seem to be taking a lead and being further ahead than the province or the federal government,” Curd said. “This is a significant opportunity to reduce the cost of operations and vehicles.”

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