In 2016 the San Antonio City Council approved an ordinance that prevents most heavy truck operators within city limits from idling their vehicles for extended periods of time. And earlier in the year, Bexar County Commissioners approved a similar measure.
These moves are part of a growing trend throughout the country to reduce emissions as communities seek to improve air quality.
Historically, truck drivers have idled the vehicles for comfort—often as they wait for their cargoes to be loaded and unloaded or when taking breaks as required by law during long hauls. In those cases, the truck’s engine powers its air conditioning and heating systems, keeping the cab cool in the punishing Texas summer heat and warm on winter days that, even in the Lone Star State, can sometimes dip below the freezing mark.
Fortunately for truck operators, innovative technologies now exist that do not require drivers to compromise their comfort and health in order to abide by emissions-reduction laws.
Bergstrom Climate Control Systems, which has operated a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at Port San Antonio since 2012, is a national leader in delivering highly efficient HVAC units that are installed in an array of heavy vehicles. Hundreds of thousands of the company’s products are used throughout the U.S. and worldwide in semi-trailer trucks, school buses and heavy equipment in the farming and construction industries.
At the Port, Bergstrom’s mainstay is the NITE® device—an HVAC system with a built-in battery that charges while the truck is being driven. When a truck is parked, the operator can simply switch the unit to run on battery power without the need for idling the engine.
What’s more, the NITE device helps reduce costs for goods that are transported by trucks.
“A semi-trailer truck consumes an average of one gallon of fuel per each hour of idling,” explains Shawn Manuel, sales engineer at Bergstrom. “And typically those trucks will idle several hours each week during loading, unloading and as a driver takes required breaks, or even sleeps in the cab overnight during cross-country journeys,” he added. “Therefore, the ability to rely on a battery-powered unit can realistically save operators thousands of dollars within the first year of use. In other words, the NITE® device quickly pays for itself—and then some.”
Headquartered in Rockford, Illinois, the company has a worldwide reach to Asia and Europe, as well as North America. The site in the Alamo City was specifically chosen due to its large space, a strong local workforce and quick logistics access that allows the company to better serve its clientele, which include truck manufacturers in both the Dallas-Fort Worth area and in Monterrey, Mexico. At full production, Bergstrom’s facility at the Port is capable of building 120,000 units a year.
“As we approach our first five years of operating in San Antonio, the Port and the community have been strategic partners in our success,” said Manyel. “In the manufacturing business, it’s essential to base our operations on a platform that is flexible so we can scale our output with surges in demand. And it also has to be easily accessible as we bring in components and export finished products. We have that and more at the Port, including capabilities to further our reach into the important Latin American market.”
In addition to the NITE® line, Bergstrom’s facility in San Antonio also designs and molds custom plastic parts and assemblies for OEM customers worldwide.