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The balance between load capacity and fuel efficiency

| 5 min
At bulk transport and tanker specialists Nijhof-Wassink in the Netherlands, everything revolves around efficient transport. But that's not the whole picture. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is also deeply rooted in Nijhof-Wassink's DNA. This leads to a continuous balancing between load capacity, load efficiency and fuel and related CO2 savings. The combination of both the lightest possible equipment and the best aerodynamic features and options is crucial.
The balance between load capacity and fuel efficiency
Nijhof-Wassink continuously balances between load capacity, load efficiency and fuel and related CO2 savings.

“Every kilo that can be saved translates into a better load capacity. We certainly apply the principle that efficiency is key," says Bertil Bouwhuis, Managing Director, Nijhof-Wassink Chemical Logistics. “But not at any price. We also focus a lot on climate-friendly investments. Of course, it's true that with a better load capacity you automatically reduce your carbon footprint. But then you wouldn't be able to grow. So, you have to do more.”

Ambitious CSR programme


Nijhof-Wassink is embarking on an ambitious CSR programme. “One of our goals is to reduce our total CO2 emissions by 10% in five years from now and by 30% by 2030, compared to 2020. Which means it's all hands on deck to achieve this. By using HVO100 as fuel, we already emit 89% less CO2 well-to-wheel. And this has an important part to play, because the lion's share of our carbon footprint comes from the exhausts of our trucks. That's why we also run vehicles on LNG and why we've started using Volvo FHs with I-Save. These vehicles are 7% more efficient to drive, and therefore produce lower CO2 emissions.”

‘Volvo Light Concept trucks fit in very well with our strategy, thanks to their low weight.’
Bertil Bouwhuis – Managing Director – Nijhoff-Wassink Chemical Logistics

Nijhof-Wassink Chemical Logistics only uses Volvo trucks. Bouwhuis continues: “This is what you get if, in addition to a transport division, you also have a large truck dealer within your holding group. Our sister company Nijwa has a total of thirteen dealerships, including five in Poland. Alongside cleaner fuel and smarter planning, the weight of the equipment itself also plays a major role. We rely on Volvo Trucks dealer Nijwa in the Netherlands to provide us with the lightest possible trucks. We are, without doubt, a really innovative company in this respect. And it's definitely the case that Volvo Light Concept trucks fit in very well with our strategy, thanks to their low weight.”

Volvo Light Concept trucks - smarter and lighter

To help hauliers in their pursuit of the highest possible load capacity, Volvo offers a wide range of options to keep the weight of the tractor as low as possible. For example, a single-leaf suspension on the front axle saves 65 kg, and a rear axle with an optimised weight cuts 90 kg off the total weight. Weight-optimised chassis frame beams, a 7.1-tonne front axle, lightweight disc brakes and aluminium brackets and air tanks also reduce the vehicle's unladen weight. As does, for example the omission of an airflow system.

Aerodynamic fittings to save fuel

“These lightweight options keep our tractors well below 7 tonnes,” explains Bouwhuis. “By paying close attention to the weight of the tractor and trailer, we can transport up to 5% more per trip. And it could be even more, as we drive with an airflow system and cab side fenders. This set-up comes in at 58 kg. That's why you often see vehicles without these features in bulk and tank transport. We however don't do that. Because there is an important disadvantage to cutting out these features as, contrary to popular belief, aerodynamic fittings improve the streamlining for tank and bulk trailers, and in doing so improve fuel consumption. 

’A trail showed spoiler showed that a spoiler increased fuel efficiency with at least 5%.’

At first, we weren't convinced either, because a tank or bulk trailer is relatively low and has a nicely rounded front. Yet without the aerodynamic fittings, the airflow 'falls' into the gap between the cab and the front of the tank or bulk trailer. With a spoiler, the air is nicely guided over that hole and instead hits the top of the trailer. That's why we started a trial in 2015 with our international long-haul tractors, to see what difference this made. And what it showed was that it increased fuel efficiency by at least 5%.”

By using HVO100 as fuel, we already emit 89% less CO2 well-to-wheel. And the Volvo FHs with I-Save are 7% more efficient to drive, and therefore produce lower CO2 emissions.

A simple calculation

For Nijhof-Wassink, it was therefore a simple calculation of what benefits the company more: an increase in load capacity of 58kg, or a 5% reduction in fuel costs and CO2 emissions. “For us, the choice was clear,” Bouwhuis reveals. "We have been installing spoilers on our new trucks for some time now. You do however always have to find a compromise. We could easily get another 200kg out of that tractor. But then our drivers would no longer drive a 460 hp Volvo FH or have a Globetrotter cab. And they would have less comfort, like the parking air-conditioning.”

With a spoiler, the air is nicely guided over the gap between the cab and the front of the tank or bulk trailer.

People, Planet and Profit

At Nijhof-Wassink, that is not an option. “This would make life harder for our drivers, and that's undesirable. As a company, our concern for the well-being of our staff is set in stone. What's more, a low roof doesn't look good on a bulk trailer, and we want our trucks to look good! That's our pride talking, it's part of our brand image as a company. Optimisation for us always means striking a balance between the best load capacity, the best fuel efficiency and highest CO2 savings and the well-being of our staff. You can translate that into people, planet and profit,” Bouwhuis says. 

“Besides a lightweight truck, aerodynamic features and a fuel-efficient specification, we also strive for a high load efficiency and as little empty miles as possible. And a significant part of that depends on your capacity or scale. The more capacity you have, the better you are able to prevent kilometres running empty. That provides the best chance for your trucks to drive the perfect trip. And we're not talking spins around the block here, either. The Chemical Logistics division's trucks mainly operate in Benelux, Germany and France. The drivers are usually away from home all week.” 

’ We will have to keep looking every single day at how we can work with even less impact on the climate.’

The planners at Nijhof-Wassink work out how to deploy each vehicle and the equipment behind it as efficiently as possible every day. “We need a considerable amount of ICT for that,” Bouwhuis points out. “And we're going to be doing a lot more in this area, because there's still potential there. Having access to sufficient – and the right type of towed equipment – also has a part to play. Our Chemical Logistics division consists of the Dry Bulk department and the Liquid Bulk department. We currently have 100 Volvo FH tractor units and 140 bulk trailers for dry goods, 55 combi-fuel vehicles and 80 Volvo FH tractors with approximately 110 tanker trailers for liquids. You can also increase your efficiency by coupling smartly.” 

The planners at Nijhof-Wassink work out how to deploy each vehicle and the equipment behind it as efficiently as possible every day.

Bouwhuis adds: “We will have to keep looking every single day at how we can work with even less impact on the climate. Some of this work is done by the truck manufacturers, in our case Volvo Trucks. And some of it we have to come up with ourselves. We actually have a separate company for that, in the shape of Nijwa Zero. We're about to start looking into better tyre management, for example. We think there's room for cutting fuel and therefore reducing CO2 emissions there, too.”