Truck idling costs the trucking industry more than $2.5 billion a year in fuel and engine repair, at a rate of 1 gallon of fuel per hour of idling, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In addition, 11 million tons of carbon dioxide are released into the air each year as a result of idling trucks. These emissions can lead to asthma and lung disease.

For rental companies that deliver and pick up equipment to and from jobsites every day, the growing number of idling restrictions is a big concern. Today, 30 states and the District of Columbia have anti-idling laws. Washington Air Compressor Rental Co., a five-branch, full-line equipment rental, sales and service organization, whose business depends in part on moving rental equipment to hundreds of customers in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, faces current truck-idling restrictions in Washington, D.C., and anticipates others to come in Virginia and Maryland.

For decades, Washington Air Compressor Rental used traditional rollback trailers, the historic workhorses of equipment delivery. But rollbacks use hydraulics to power the deck and winch, which requires the truck's engine to idle during the loading and unloading process.

This winter, however, the company's Chantilly, Va., branch bought a Retriever from Waukesha, Wis.-based Up-N-Atom, a new-type transport bed, equipped with the optional No-Idle System that eliminates engine idling during load/unload operations. The No-Idle System helps Washington Air Compressor Rental comply with municipal idling restrictions, saves the company fuel costs and extends the life of both engines and emissions systems.

Retriever uses the truck's air power rather than hydraulics to operate its deck and ramp. This same system charges the on-board No-Idle System tank to 120 psi during about five minutes of regular driving, sufficient force to load/unload 30,000-pound payloads with the engine off.

According to the manufacturer, the Retriever No-Idle System can reduce equipment delivery idling time by as much as 95 percent — that's more than 500 hours of idling per year — and eliminate more than five tons of emissions. According to an Argonne National Laboratories study, the system saves more than $1,500/year in fuel, maintenance and repair costs — a figure that increases as fuel prices continue to rise.

“We use Retriever every day for transporting every type of rental equipment,” said Jim Hartness, Washington Air Compressor's Chantilly branch manager. “The vehicle makes six or seven round-trips per day around the D.C. Metroplex moving scissorlifts, air compressor generators, forklifts, skid-steer loaders, backhoes and more.

“It's the best transport I've used in 20 years, and beats rollbacks hands-down. In addition to no-idle benefits, Retriever is faster and easier to use. Because of air power, it doesn't freeze up in winter or leak hydraulic fluid. It goes no matter what,” Hartness added.

“We can use Retriever with the No-Idle System in the yard for three cycles before recharging the on-board air tank. It's versatile, easy to operate and so popular our drivers compete for it.” Retriever's No-Idle System has been such a productive solution that Washington Air Compressor Rental Co. is considering units for its other branches, especially as nearby communities adopt anti-idling ordinances.

Washington Air Compressor Rental Co. has branches in Washington, D. C.; Hyattsville, Rockville and Frederick, Md.; and Chantilly, Va. The 77-year-old family-owned business rents air compressors and tools, personnel and material lifts, skid-steer loaders, excavators, generators, saws and more. It can also provide seasoned and experienced operators. The company stocks a complete OEM parts and supplies inventory for its customers in the D.C. Metroplex.

Washington Air Compressor offers comprehensive service with factory-trained and certified technicians and emergency field service 24 hours per day. The 77-year-old company is an authorized dealer for 35 manufacturers including Doosan Infracore Portable Power, Honda, Stihl, Mi-T-M, Kent, Makita, and others.

Story and photos provided by Retreiver/Up-N-Atom, Waukesha, Wis.