Every year, the city of Ottawa hosts an event called Doors Open Ottawa. Approximately 150 historically, culturally, and functionally significant buildings open their doors to the public. If you’re a resident of the city, it’s a great way to explore your own backyard as it allows you to gain access to buildings that are normally closed to the public.
This year, my family and I decided to take advantage of the event and visit National Research Council (NRC), Canada’s 9 m wind tunnel testing facility. This is the third largest wind tunnel testing facility in the world. Their testing spans across many industries including aerospace, automotive, surface transportation, construction, energy, and sports.
Our tour guide, one of the researchers at the facility, was speaking about both their past and current projects. I found it interesting to discover that one of their current projects has direct impact on supply chains; more specifically, on freight transportation. They are currently testing the aerodynamics of trucks driving in a peloton formation, which is also known as platooning.
Platooning is a technique that is similar to those employed in cycling road races where cyclists ride in close formation to help them conserve energy and reduce drag. When you reduce the distance between trucks (somewhere around 5 to 10 meters), you can also reduce drag, and, as a result, save on fuel and lower C02 emissions. Advocates for truck platooning also claim that it could have the added benefit of improving highway safety because it better controls speed and could help reduce chain collisions.