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Schneider testing truck APU units and refrigerators

Schneider leaders Stu, Matt and Todd gather around a table in Todd's office.

One of the most common questions our Maintenance team gets is why Schneider doesn’t have Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) installed in Over-the-Road tractors. The answer is that the installation and maintenance costs have always far exceeded the benefits.

Schneider is not alone. These issues are the same that have kept most carriers from adopting diesel-powered APUs, and most who did try them discontinued their use as a standard feature over time.

Schneider has tested varieties of truck APU units in the past. However, strides have been made in the manufacturing of the onboard generator devices, so we’re ready to put them to the test once again – as we announced in the video above and through discussions in our monthly Facebook chats.

What tractors will be part of the truck APU unit and refrigerator test?

To gather accurate data, we have purchased 60 new Freightliner Cascadia tractors that have TriPac APUs factory installed – and half of those units also have a refrigerator. Plus, similarly equipped used Cascadia tractors (two to three years old) will be obtained from SFI Trucks and Financing as they become available.

The Auxiliary Power Unit components are most noticeable from the exterior:

The TriPac APU can be found behind the passenger side diesel tank along with a condenser that's mounted on the back of the truck.

Where are the trucks going and who gets to drive them?

Tractors will be assigned to Van Truckload Over-the-Road solo drivers in Atlanta, Dallas and West Memphis (20 in each). Of course, every driver is going to want one of the new trucks, but they will be assigned to drivers who operate Over-the-Road, do not operate in the western 11 states (because the TriPac units do not meet certain state regulations) and have biweekly or less frequent time at home.

What measurements are we using?

By performing a controlled test on a smaller number of tractors, we can measure the full costs, benefits and performance of equipping tractors with APU units and refrigerators through the entire tractor life cycle. Measurements include:

  • Tractor loaded miles per month
  • Tractor idling %, MPG, and MPG vs. standard
  • TriPac APU maintenance cost
  • Tractor gain on sale when traded
  • Overall return on investment vs. truck APU investment
  • Driver retention

What’s the timeline?

We have already ordered and received the new tractors, delivered and assigned them, and provided driver training. In July, we began receiving and assigning the SFI used tractors.

More updates will be shared as decisions are made. Schneider is continually testing new equipment and technology – like we did with automated transmissions, power inverters, electronic stability control systems, fuel-efficient investments and more.

Drive for a company that puts you first.

We want our drivers to feel safe and confident while out on the road, which is why we are equipping our trucks with the newest features. Search our driving jobs and learn how truck driving for Schneider could be your next career move.

About the author
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Rob Reich is executive vice president and chief administrative officer at Schneider. Reich began his professional career with Schneider in 1992 and has since served in several leadership roles. Prior to joining Schneider, Reich served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Reich served in Desert Storm and successfully led a 63-soldier signal platoon with no resulting casualties. Reich holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Pennsylvania State University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh.

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