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 Avoiding Engine-Start Failure: Why a Fleet Manager Relies on Ultracapacitors

Avoiding Engine-Start Failure: Why a Fleet Manager Relies on Ultracapacitors

| Mark Burnside, Sr. Product Manager, Engine Starting

Jay Matthewson doesn’t have time to deal with engine-start failure. As fleet manager for Ben E. Keith, a foodservice and beverage distributor based in Texas, he manages a fleet of more than 330 vehicles, including trucks, refrigerated trailers, dollies and cars; and a team of more than 160 drivers.  Expensive maintenance costs are often the result when something goes wrong. It’s important that his vehicles operate reliably to keep costs down and deliveries on schedule.

With his drivers logging an aggregate 500,000 miles each month serving mom and pop restaurants, schools, nursing homes and other facilities, Jay needs all trucks to be ready no matter what. However, anti-idle regulations requiring drivers to shut off their engines at every stop puts drivers at risk for engine-start failure. Each of Ben E. Keith’s drivers stops 16 to 20 times a day to make a delivery, and the distance between delivery stops can be just a few miles, taking only about 5 minutes, which isn’t enough time for the alternator to fully recharge the battery.

As a result, drivers are eventually stuck with an inadequately charged battery that can no longer start the engine, resulting in a disabled truck and forcing the driver to wait for a jump-start. Jay needed a solution to eliminate repeated engine-start failures, but everything he tried quickly failed: Batteries would be fully charged at the beginning of the week and fall to an unacceptably low state of charge by the end of the week.

After trying a variety of products, Jay finally found the solution: Maxwell’s ultracapacitor-based Engine Start Module (ESM) for improving engine-starting reliability. Using ultracapacitors to perform engine starting greatly helps Jay’s fleet avoid the limitations associated with battery-based starting because ultracapacitors recharge very quickly, ensuring there is minimal to zero delay in operation. Ultracapacitors provide dedicated power just for engine-start functions and, when used in conjunction with batteries, they increase engine starting reliability – making both driver and truck more productive.

Jay says, "When the battery is low, the truck still starts and the charging system can get the battery system back up…and could do it again if it still needed to. My drivers like that they can just put the key in the ignition and go.”

Aside from saving drivers from roadside jump-starts, the Maxwell ESM helps Jay cut expenses. Before using the Maxwell ESM, jump-starts cost Ben E. Keith between $3,500 and $4,400 per month. Now Jay’s jump-start costs have decreased by approximately 72 percent, and that is with ESMs installed in only a portion of his delivery trucks. Jay says, "An average jump-start costs between $235 and $285. In two or three jump-starts, I paid for the ESM. The ROI is pretty quick.”  

To learn more about how ultracapacitor technologies, such as Maxwell’s Engine Start Module (ESM), ensure reliable truck engine starting and reduce maintenance costs, download our "How Ultracapacitors Improve Starting Reliability for Truck Fleets” white paper.

download our whitepaper

The statements made in this article reflect the experience of the featured customer. Individual customer results may vary.

Mark BurnsideMark Burnside
Sr. Product Manager, Engine Starting
About this author

Mark Burnside joined Maxwell Technologies in 2008 as senior manager of program management, responsible for managing cross-functional teams in the development of ultracapacitor products from concept through production release. He contributed to the development of the Engine Start Module (ESM) product from its inception and was promoted to senior product manager, engine starting, in 2013.

Mark is a member of the Electrical Generating Systems Association (EGSA) and an Associate Corporate member of the American Trucking Association (ATA) and the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC). Throughout his 40-year career he has held engineering management, program management and marketing management positions for several leading commercial high-tech companies, including Varian Associates, Xerox, Maxtor, Iomega and Ametek Programmable Power. For a six-year period, Mark owned and operated four Batteries Plus commercial/retail outlets, marketing and selling batteries to truck, bus and fleet customers. He holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley.




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