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Prime's Eco49 company drivers to receive sizeable per mile boost

Some 350 trucks, or about 10 percent of Prime's reefer division, are included in the Eco49 program. (Courtesy: PRIME INC.)

By LYNDON FINNEY
The Trucker Staff

3/31/2011

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Prime inc. went green a couple of years ago within its reefer division with its Eco49 program, and now the pocketbooks of company drivers who participate in the program are going to contain more green.

The company announced Thursday during the Mid-America Trucking Show here that it would give Eco49 drivers in the company’s eastern division a 10-cent-a-mile increase and Eco49 drivers in all other regions a 5-cent-a-mile increase.

Eco49 drivers in the eastern division, where the density of freight is much higher, currently average 42 cents a mile, Eco49 drivers in the rest of the company average 39.5 cents a mile.

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The eastern division comprises routes primarily east of the Mississippi River.

The increases are effective April 13.

When the company decided to increase its environmental footprint, Prime officials decided one way to become greener was to increase the payload on reefer units, according to John Hancock, director of training and driver recruiting.

Prime began by carefully spec’ing new tractors and trailers to reduce weight by doing such things as placing only one 100-gallon fuel tank on the tractor, using wide-based single wheels instead of dual wheels, and operating with a shorter wheel base, narrow sleepers and no passenger seat. Lightweight auxiliary power units weighing 280 pounds were installed instead of 500-pound plus APUs.

The company uses Peterbilt 384, Freightliner Columbia and International 9200 models in the program.

The result was a combination tractor-trailer that would hold a 49,000 pound payload.

“When we first approached our customers there was skepticism because we moved up our rates on those shipments, but when they began to see that it took less truckloads to move the same amount of freight, they were understanding,” Hancock said. “Then they began to say ‘for every 10 trucks I send out, that’s one less truck I need.”

Hancock said Prime figured out that for every 1,000 loads, 122 fewer trucks would have to be on the road.

“We’ve done very well with our Eco49 program, so we wanted to share part of what we’ve earned through the program with a drivers.” Hancock said.

Independent contractors in the program have benefitted from the inception of Eco49 because at Prime, contractors are not paid by the mile, but instead receive 72 percent of the revenue collected on each load, Hancock said.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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