Study finds Alcoa Forged Aluminum Wheels dramatically cut the carbon footprint of commercial vehicles

Savings of switching one truck from steel wheels to Alcoa Forged Aluminum Wheels equals the average annual carbon footprint of an American household.
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Aluminum will be greenhouse gas neutral by 2030

In the critical transportation industry, our research in lifecycle modeling has shown that by 2030 the emissions of the entire aluminum industry can be offset by the potential emission savings from the transport sector's increased use of aluminum.
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A Road-Tested Success

The next time you are on the road - whether you are stuck in traffic or tooling across the country - take a look around. You will notice right away which vehicles are riding on Alcoa wheels and which are not. And, more and more, you will notice something else about many Alcoa wheels used by fleet, mass transit, truck dealer and motor home customers - a black "Alcoa Dura-Bright® Surface Treatment" logo. Call it pride of ownership, image consciousness or simply a desire to look smart, they all agree that Alcoa Dura-Bright® wheels deliver dazzlingly sharp performance.

While owner-operator George Shea, shop supervisor Claire Lameyer, and bus maintenance manager John Koenig have vastly different responsibilities, they all share common needs: to save on labor costs and downtime; to protect wheels against oxidation and corrosion; and to ensure their fleets look great with bright, shiny wheels. These are just a few of the reasons these industry professionals - as well as thousands of others throughout the U.S. and Europe - rely on the road-tested success of Alcoa's Dura-Bright® wheels.

Looking Smart
"I have a saying on the back of my cab that says, 'When image matters,'" said George Shea of G & S Transport in Jacksonville, N.C. Shea knows the trucking business demands more than just delivering the goods.

"A good-looking truck tells shippers and receivers that my truck is well-maintained," said Shea. "As an owner-operator, I take my business seriously, and I know that image is important." Shea drives a 1997 Peterbilt 379 extended hood with a 500-horsepower Detroit engine. He uses his rig to pull a 53-foot Trailmobile dry van. More than a job to Shea, trucking is his life.

"My wife, Sheryl, likes to tell people that it's easy when your job and your hobby are the same," he said. "Instead of hunting, fishing or golfing, I'd rather tinker with the truck. In fact, my CB handle is 'Hobby Trucker' and the truck's name is 'The Touring Coupe.' If I won the lottery, I wouldn't quit driving. I'd call the dealer to order a new truck."

A second-generation trucker, Shea pays meticulous attention to the appearance of his rig. That is why Shea and his wife jumped at the chance to enter to win a set of 10 Dura-Bright® wheels at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March 2002. And as luck would have it, Sheryl did win.

Now sporting 10-hole, hub piloted wheels with Classic-style round hand holes, Shea notes that "The Touring Coupe" is almost a designated road hazard. His six-month-old Dura-Bright® wheels literally sparkle.

"I was going into a truck stop recently as another driver was pulling out," said Shea. "The other driver joked that I needed to move my truck because the wheels were blinding him!"

"I've gotten many compliments on the shine on the wheels," he said. "The other drivers assume I've spent hours polishing them. I say no, these are new wheels from Alcoa. They shine without polishing. I just wash my Alcoa Dura-Bright® wheels with soap and water. And because the Dura-Bright® wheel treatment is part of the aluminum itself, it won't chip or peel over time like a clear coat will. "

Saving Valuable Time - and Money
Like Shea, shop supervisor Claire Lameyer also appreciates the easy maintenance and durability of Alcoa Dura-Bright® wheels. His company, SC Transport in Grand Rapids, Mich., hauls office furniture for parent company Steelcase. Additionally, SC Transport backhauls cast steel, brick and other products.

"We have the advantages and the concerns of both a private fleet and a for-hire carrier," said Lameyer.

The Steelcase fleet - a mixture of Dorsey, Wabash, Stoughton and Trailmobile aluminum-sided trailers - operates seven days a week. Steelcase's 1987 tractors are Peterbilt conventional sleeper cabs, all running on 24.5-inch-by-8.25-inch hub piloted Alcoa forged aluminum wheels. For a number of months now, three of the company's tractors have been traveling the highways on Dura-Bright® wheels.

But that was not always the case. Years ago, Steelcase's fleet ran on chromed steel wheels. All too soon, the demands of the road - extreme weather fluctuations, road salt and heat build-up - caused the chrome to peel and the wheels' appearance to quickly degenerate.

"In 1992, Steelcase started specifying Alcoa forged aluminum wheels," said Lameyer. "They gave us the brightness of the chromed wheels, plus other advantages such as strength, durability and truer run for longer tire and brake life." Of particular importance, Lameyer estimates that Alcoa wheels have saved the company a significant amount of weight, allowing room for more payload - especially on backhauls.

"We are in the business of creating great looking furniture for high-performance work environments," he said. "We want to make sure everything about us reflects that image, including our trucks. "

"The problem, until now, was that we had to work at keeping our wheels looking sharp," said Lameyer. "With Alcoa Dura-Bright wheels, there's absolutely no polishing. It's unbelievable. These wheels look bright and stay that way. I would definitely recommend them to everyone who cares about company image."

Connecting People to Life
With all the transportation choices available to the public these days, John Koenig understands that bus operators do not get a second chance to make a first impression.

"Clean wheels add to the aesthetics of the bus," said the manager of bus maintenance support for the Port Authority in Allegheny County, Penn. "A clean appearance matters to us because it matters to our passengers. When the public sees a clean-looking bus, they feel more confident that it's a well-maintained bus. And that generates ridership."

A major concern for Koenig is the amount of time a bus spends in the maintenance bay because, if it is not out running a route, the bus is not making money. With more than 1,000 buses operating throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, the easy maintenance of Dura-Bright® wheels makes all the difference in getting busses in and out - and looking good.

"After a while, wheels on the bus can start to look black and greasy," said Keonig. "The way we used to have to clean the wheels with scrub brushes and soap was pretty labor intensive. But with our Alcoa Dura-Bright® wheels, we just hose the wheels off. "

"We've been using Alcoa Dura-Bright wheels for five years now, and they're holding up great," he said. "They look brighter than other wheels the same age. More important to us, they look cleaner."

"Port Authority is very happy with our Alcoa Dura-Bright wheels," said Koenig. In fact, the agency is so pleased with the Alcoa Dura-Bright® wheels that are on 250 of its busses that there are plans to purchase an additional 250 buses with Alcoa Dura-Bright wheels in the coming year.

Customers in a variety of industries needing to meet a variety of demands are finding a better way to faster, easier cleaning, lower maintenance and the brightest, shiniest wheels on the road. All thanks to Alcoa Dura-Bright® wheels.

Haul it farther, safer, and more profitably with smart new ideas from Alcoa.

Click here to view a diagram of Alcoa products in use by Steelcase.

Alcoa Dura-Bright® Wheels keep their sparkle without polishing.

Read more about them on the 'Don't Polish' web site.

"Image is important."
George Shea

"It's unbelievable. There's absolutely no polishing."
Claire Lameyer
Steelcase, Inc.

"They look brighter and cleaner than other wheels."
John Koenig
Port Authority of Allegheny County

Dura-Bright Wheels help Pittsburgh buses sparkle

Read the news story on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette web site.