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Murphy’s Law for Fleets: Using Ultracapacitors to Beat Inevitable Engine Failure

Murphy’s Law for Fleets: Using Ultracapacitors to Beat Inevitable Engine Failure

| Mark Burnside, Sr. Product Manager, Engine Starting

Fleet drivers are dedicated to being on time and keeping customers happy, but like all of us, they have days when everything that can possibly go wrong does. It may start by hitting snooze on the alarm clock one too many times, but it can go downhill from there.

For truckers, when Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head it often starts with the following triggers that cause fleet engine-starting failure, turning a bad morning into a terrible day:

  • It’s too hot or cold: Most batteries perform best at about 72°F and become weaker as temperature drops. While subfreezing temperatures temporarily weaken performance, temperatures above 100°F actually shorten battery life, and as a result, fleet operators are forced to spend time and money replacing batteries more frequently. Drivers in colder climates can experience a failure to start when a sudden cold snap hits the area.
  • Frequent stops and starts: Repeated stops and starts often don’t provide the alternator with sufficient time to recharge the batteries. This occurs frequently in fleets with deliveries that are closely spaced. This often results in inadequately charged batteries, a failure to start and, most likely, a jump-start.
  • Too many electric loads: Many fleets are outfitting their trucks with parasitic loads that draw current on a 24/7 basis—even when the key is switched off. Although these advancements are great for fleet owners and drivers, trucks often do not have enough battery power to support these accessories. This often causes a "Monday morning scramble” for drivers to deal with after the weekend. Too many applications will discharge the batteries to a point where they can’t start the truck and the driver is forced to begin his week with a jump-start.


With so many things that can go wrong, it’s important for fleets to be prepared. To avoid these situations and make sure fleets operate optimally, operators can look to ultracapacitor-based engine start technology. Ultracapacitors are not only resilient in hot temperatures, but also increase output voltage in cold temperatures. Plus, they recharge very quickly, ensuring there is minimal to no delay in operation caused by battery problems. Combining ultracapacitor technology with batteries results in increased reliability and gives drivers the confidence that their engines will start.

Using ultracapacitors for engine starting improves fleet performance by avoiding many of the limitations associated with battery-based starting. To learn more about using ultracapacitor technologies, such as Maxwell’s Engine Start Module (ESM), to ensure reliable truck engine starting, download our "How Ultracapacitors Improve Starting Reliability for Truck Fleets” white paper.

Mike EverettMark 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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