Nestlé Waters and Bimbo Bakeries Commit to Propane Autogas

During back-to-back press conferences at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis in early March, Nestlé Waters and Bimbo Bakeries unveiled plans for the addition of new propane vehicles to their fleets. Spokesmen from both companies noted the environmental benefits of propane, in addition to the cost savings.
Nestle Bimbo 3

Environmental stewardship is just one reason Nestlé Waters North America is adding more than 150 medium-duty beverage delivery trucks fueled by propane autogas—but it’s a big motivation. Over the vehicles’ lifetime, the 155 Ford F-650 trucks will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 24.6 million pounds. The new units are being deployed this month. Nestlé propane trucks make deliveries to customers across the country, including Los Angeles; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Deployments in 2016 will include New York City, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.  

“Becoming a better steward of our environment is a priority for Nestlé Waters,” said Bill Ardis, national fleet manager, speaking at the NTEA Work Truck Show. “We’ve been running propane autogas vehicles since 2014. Because of the proven emissions reductions and cost savings, we knew it was the right choice.”
Nestle Bimbo 2

The new medium-duty delivery trucks, added to the company’s existing autogas fleet of 30 Ford trucks of the same model, will also help the company save on maintenance and fuel costs. “Autogas allows us to operate without compromising standard delivery methods and reduce operational costs,” Ardis said. Propane autogas costs the company an average of $1 per gallon versus diesel. Each delivery truck is equipped with a California Air Resources Board- and Environmental Protection Agency-compliant Roush CleanTech autogas fuel system with a 45-usable-gallon fuel tank. Mickey Body in High Point, N.C. upfitted the vehicles with side-load beverage bays. “Fueling beverage delivery trucks with propane autogas offers the best total cost of ownership,” said Todd Mouw, Roush CleanTech’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Bimbo Bakeries USA (Horsham, Pa.) is delivering its bread and baked goods in vehicles fueled by emissions-reducing propane autogas. The company’s 84 new Ford F-59 trucks, equipped with Roush CleanTech fuel technology, operate in three of the company’s major markets. “Bimbo Bakeries USA introduced propane autogas vehicles into our Chicago, Denver, and Washington, D.C. regions to help accomplish our corporate environmental goals while lowering our bottom line,” said Gary Maresca, senior director of fleet services at Bimbo. “This initiative is the latest in our company’s continued effort to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Each new autogas-fueled delivery truck will cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 192,000 pounds compared to gasoline, or 16.1 million fewer pounds over the lifetime of the fleet. In January, 30 units began operating from Bimbo’s Chicago-area location, and 27 began operating from the Denver office. The remaining 27 units that will serve the Washington, D.C. region began deliveries in March. The alternative fuel trucks serve as route vehicles, delivering Bimbo Bakeries’ products such as Thomas’, Oroweat, Entenmann’s and Sara Lee to retail locations.
Nestle Bimbo 1

“Bimbo Bakeries seamlessly integrated our fuel system technology into three of its key markets,” said Todd Mouw, Roush CleanTech vice president of sales and marketing. “We helped train their technicians on the specifics of servicing our propane autogas Ford F-59 trucks.” Bimbo Bakeries installed on-site fueling stations at each location, eliminating the need to refill at retail stations. Maresca expects to see a reduction in operational costs, as well as maintenance savings due to the cleaner-burning properties of the fuel. Currently, the company pays about $1.30 per gallon of propane autogas compared to $1.80 for gasoline. This cost rolls in the expense of the refueling infrastructure. Bimbo tapped incentives in both Colorado and Maryland to minimize the initial costs associated with alternative fuel technologies.

“Whenever an established industry leader like Bimbo Bakeries USA chooses to operate a large fleet of delivery vehicles with propane autogas over other fuel options, it’s a big deal,” said Tucker Perkins (above), chief business development officer at the Propane Education & Research Council.

Propane Makes a Big Impression At Work Truck Show

Propane industry press conferences and presentations, along with truck premieres, ride-and-drive opportunities, and training drew a record-setting 11,905 industry professionals to the Work Truck Show 2016 in Indianapolis. The show took place March 1-4 at the Indiana Convention Center and is produced annually by NTEA, the association for the work truck industry.
Work Truck Show6

Propane garnered a great deal of attention at the Green Truck Summit, held in conjunction with the Work Truck Show, which focused on alternative fuels and the latest on clean energy innovations for commercial vehicles. The Green Truck Summit session titled, “The Propane Autogas Advantage: Reduce Your Total Cost of Ownership,” included Glenn Chamberland, fleet manager for AAA Hartford Metro Emergency Road Service. Chamberland discussed how AAA Hartford’s use of propane-fueled trucks has helped save on fuel and maintenance costs and lower incidents of fuel theft. The session also included Jay Massey, corporate fleet manager for AmeriGas (Valley Forge, Pa.), who addressed how his company uses propane in its fleet. Steve Smith, director of transportation for the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township (Indianapolis) talked about his fleet’s adoption of Blue Bird propane-powered Vision buses. Tucker Perkins, chief business development officer for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), moderated the event.

Perkins told BPN after the event that Smith’s talk was “just what you want to hear from a fleet manager,” covering all of the positive impacts the switch to propane has had on the drivers, mechanics, and school district overall. Smith mentioned strong support from his fueling provider.

Perkins also spoke at a session titled “Work Truck Trends and Outlook for Alternative Fuel Technology.” The session included representatives from the Electric Drive Transportation Association, NGVAmerica, and the National Biodiesel Board. Perkins commented that those groups noted declines in business between 2014 and 2015, partly because of low gasoline prices. But the propane autogas industry sold 3% to 3.5% more vehicles during that same time period.
WorkTruck 3

“I am glad to see that our buyers continued to choose propane vehicles because they saw the economic advantages over gasoline and diesel options,” Perkins said.

In Perkins’ presentation, he talked about how the propane industry’s sales success in school buses makes a convincing case to managers of large truck fleets that can benefit as much as the school bus industry has from switching to propane autogas.

He wanted attendees to think about why 10,000 propane school buses are on the road but not that many medium-duty trucks.  “They’re going to have quieter vehicles, happier drivers, improved image from polluting less, and having a real differentiator between them and their competitors,” Perkins noted.  

PERC’s booth displayed an F-250 from the AAA fleet with an ICOM propane system, a vehicle from Bimbo Bakeries, an F-150 truck from Westport, and propane fueling dispensers from CleanFUEL USA and Superior Energy. Attendees could also visit Blossman Gas/Alliance AutoGas, CleanFUEL USA, Roush CleanTech, and PSI booths.
WorkTruck 1

The increased awareness of propane autogas throughout the Work Truck Show impressed Perkins. “You continue to see fleet managers having positive experiences, and you continue to see [original equipment manufacturers] taking notice of that.”

Freightliner Showcases MT-45, S2G Applications

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp (FCCC; Gaffney, S.C.) showcased new product innovations at the Work Truck Show last month, including its LPG MT-45 chassis.
Freightliner 3

The chassis itself has been around for a while, but it now features twin autogas tanks to increase the range of the vehicle. They are dual 16x53-in. side-mounted LPG tanks with 60 gallons of total volume (shown below, center right).

“On the MT side, we’re continuing to have good success, especially at the larger end of the spectrum with UPS and larger fleet buyers,” said Kevin Erb, director of public relations for FCCC’s ad agency, Ferguson Advertising.

Speaking with BPN following the Work Truck Show, Erb also discussed FCCC’s S2G box truck displayed at its booth. In addition, an S2G unit outfitted with a flatbed and crane on its back was part of the Green Truck Summit’s Ride and Drive event. The company is pleased with the sales numbers and interest in the various S2G applications, including the propane bobtail and the box truck, although he noted propane marketers and companies using the S2G in various applications are taking a cautious approach, with many purchasing one, two, or three at a time.

“Of course you want to have the big orders go through, but by and large, we’re hearing very positive things.”
Freightliner 1
He noted that because the S2G is a unique product, the company is still addressing some issues on the service side. FCCC is working hard behind the scenes with its dealer network and customers, getting its technicians up to speed on repairing the vehicles. FCCC’s 24/7 Help Line (800-FTL-HELP) is available for customers who need any form of assistance, whether it is basic operational questions, or assistance finding repair facilities and coordinating repairs.

But some areas of encouragement include the interest in the S2G chassis from the beverage delivery industry. That industry sees the fuel efficiency and affordability benefits of the vehicle and is also seeing opportunity with the walk-in van product. People sometimes think of a Mickey truck from Mickey Truck Bodies when they think of the beverage body truck. Freightliner is also seeing opportunity with walk-in vans that are pallet-loaded and ready to drop off. Those options help eliminate some driver retention or Workers’ Compensation issues because drivers do less bending and heavy lifting.

The Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) order of 30 dedicated propane S2G box trucks was another positive development. The district, which has been operating propane-fueled school buses for several years, contacted its local Freightliner dealer looking for a propane-fueled box truck to deliver food and equipment to schools within the district. The order included a challenge for Freightliner, however. The district needed steps built behind the passenger side door where the 60-gal. fuel tank is traditionally located. Freightliner figured out a way to move the fuel tank to the other side of the vehicle to meet the needs of the customer.
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“We completed the design for them and built them a couple units initially, and after reviewing those first units they ordered another 28,” said Ron Anders, account manager, western region, for FCCC.

Educating the Next Generation of Technicians on Propane Autogas

The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) in February launched its newly developed Propane Autogas Vehicle Technician Training program as a way to grow the propane autogas industry by educating the next generation of alternative fuel automotive technicians.
NAFTC

NAFTC director Bill Davis said the program features a group of training products, which the consortium will make available to automotive instructors nationwide to educate automotive technicians on propane autogas vehicles. The products include a manual with pictures and schematics, a DVD for instructors, and eventually, a website will supplement the materials, but Davis noted the importance of the printed booklet.

“The technician will come away with a comprehensive instructor manual,” Davis said. “As much as we tried to go electronic on a number of things, automotive technicians feel more comfortable if they have their hands around something they can hold on to.”

The project has been in the works for about two years after representatives of the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) met with NAFTC to discuss development of a propane autogas education program for automotive technicians, similar to programs that other energy sources offer.

After determining that the need was great for propane autogas technician training, PERC funded a program to develop the training. NAFTC asked PERC for information that it could include in the training materials, and a PERC task force of propane marketers, original equipment manufacturers, aftermarket professionals, and school bus manufacturers responded with thousands of pages of documents, photos, and diagrams that NAFTC organized into the document.

As part of the project, NAFTC then began training its member instructors, who teach automotive technology at community and technical four-year colleges and universities around the country. Finding a facility to conduct the training for the instructors was an early step, and the consortium looked for a facility run by a company with significant involvement in propane autogas.

A free, three-day training course has also been designed by The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) to give automotive service technicians an in-depth look at servicing and maintaining propane-autogas-powered vehicles. The NAFTC launched the course to help fill a need for qualified technicians who can adapt, service and maintain the alternative fuel systems. Training courses will be offered at Oklahoma City Community College April 25 to 27; Blossman Autogas Fuel and Research Center in Asheville, North Carolina May 24 to 26; and June 14 to 16 at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Oregon. Sessions are free but space is limited.

“Blue Bird has a very significant input right now, with the number of vehicles they’re putting out there on the road,” Davis said of the Georgia-based company that manufactures school buses such as the Vision, which runs on propane. Blue Bird provided the space and chassis so the instructors could receive hands-on training on propane systems. The program also helped Blue Bird, which is always on the lookout for qualified technicians, and the school bus company wanted to contribute to attracting them to the propane industry.

“Blue Bird employs quality technicians to service its buses,” noted David Bercik, the company’s director of product marketing. “As Blue Bird sells more and more propane buses to school districts, we’re always looking for more highly qualified, knowledgeable people to service the buses. The NAFTC program will benefit Blue Bird and its dealers that provide the buses throughout North America by increasing the pool of technicians, which will also help the propane industry as a whole,” Bercik said. “You can never have enough trained employees out there to work on these buses, because it is a different skillset than working on a diesel,” he added.

For the initial session of training for the instructors, Blue Bird provided a chassis with a propane system, “so the trainers could look at it without the skin on the bus, just the skeleton. They could see the inner workings of the fuel system.” (See photo below.)

The instructors are from educational institutions such as the University of Northwestern Ohio, Rio Hondo College in California, the New England Institute of Technology, Lansing Community College in Michigan, Alfred State College in New York, Owensboro Community and Technical College in Kentucky, Tyler Junior College in Texas, Blue Ridge Community College in North Carolina, and First Coast Technical College in Florida. Another is Chicago Vocational School, which high school students attend.

After going through the NAFTC training, the instructors will teach participants such as other automotive instructors, students, in-service automotive technicians, and fleet managers on all aspects of propane autogas systems. “We start at the fuel tank and go all the way to the fuel injector,” Davis explained. The course will include instruction in areas such as tanks, how they are mounted, controls, how to defuel a tank, propane systems, ignition, fuel tank installation, supply lines for the fuels, how to turn a liquid fuel into a gaseous fuel, fuel injectors, fuel switching if the vehicle is bi-fuel, electronics, and tank purging.

“Last but not least is fuel dispensing, because one thing you have to cover when you train a tech is not just on maintaining a system that happens to be on that vehicle,” Davis stated. “If a driver has a problem and he can’t get his vehicle to accept the fuel, why not?” The technician should know if the problem involves the fuel supply system or another area.

The materials include an entire chapter on propane autogas safety, covering topics such as codes and standards, personal protective equipment, handling spills, fire prevention, static electricity, how to service a vehicle with a leak, and an entire section on facilities. Davis will soon host Webinars and workshops on equipping facilities to work on propane autogas vehicles.

He stressed that the training materials are “a living, breathing, growing document.” The curriculum, he noted, will be around for a while. It’s not material that will stay the same for years after it’s published. If technology changes, NAFTC will change the curriculum immediately to address the changes.

Along with the curriculum, instructors will have access to a kit containing materials they need to train automotive technicians and others on propane autogas vehicles, such as valves, fuel dispensing items, injectors, and a fuel tank. After completing the training, the trainer will ship the kit back to NAFTC so other instructors can use it. NAFTC is working on an online toolbox with electronic material for the instructors, including photos, diagrams, and videos showing exercises they can go over with students.

Stuart Flatow, vice president of safety and training for PERC, said the automotive instructors were excited about the initial train-the-trainer session and will gain great knowledge through the Propane Autogas Vehicle Technician Training to be passed on to the next generation of alternative fuel automotive technicians.

“Now they can have a really good sense of the fueling system, propane safety, and the benefits of it, and even the folks that have not been that familiar about it are very excited about it. We want them to incorporate this as a course into their standing automotive technician curriculum so we can start breeding the next generation of alternative-fuel technicians, in this case autogas,” Flatow said.

The training will provide additional year-round gallon growth for the propane industry, he added.  Propane marketers who are not currently involved in propane autogas might become more interested when they see the gallon growth as a result of the NAFTC program. “The technologies are such that I think it uplifts the entire industry. This country and the world are seeing the high-tech use of the fuel that they sell, and they should be proud of that.”    —Daryl Lubinsky

Propane Makes Big Impression At Work Truck Show

Propane industry press conferences and presentations, along with truck premieres, ride-and-drive opportunities, and training drew a record-setting 11,905 industry professionals to the Work Truck Show 2016 in Indianapolis. The show took place March 1 to 4 at the Indiana Convention Center and is produced annually by NTEA, the association for the work truck industry.
Work Truck Show 1

Propane garnered a great deal of attention at the Green Truck Summit, held in conjunction with the Work Truck Show, which focused on alternative fuels and the latest on clean energy innovations for commercial vehicles. The Green Truck Summit session titled, “The Propane Autogas Advantage: Reduce Your Total Cost of Ownership,” included Glenn Chamberland, fleet manager for AAA Hartford Metro Emergency Road Service. Chamberland discussed how AAA Hartford’s use of propane-fueled trucks has helped save on fuel and maintenance costs and lower incidents of fuel theft. The session also included Jay Massey, corporate fleet manager for AmeriGas (Valley Forge, Pa.), who addressed how his company uses propane in its fleet. Steve Smith, director of transportation for the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township (Indianapolis) talked about his fleet’s adoption of Blue Bird propane-powered Vision buses. Tucker Perkins, chief business development officer for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), moderated the event.

Perkins told BPN after the event that Smith’s talk was “just what you want to hear from a fleet manager,” covering all of the positive impacts the switch to propane has had on the drivers, mechanics, and school district overall. Smith mentioned strong support from his fueling provider.

Perkins also spoke at a session titled “Work Truck Trends and Outlook for Alternative Fuel Technology.” The session included representatives from the Electric Drive Transportation Association, NGVAmerica, and the National Biodiesel Board. Perkins commented that those groups noted declines in business between 2014 and 2015, partly because of low gasoline prices. But the propane autogas industry sold 3% to 3.5% more vehicles during that same time period.

“I am glad to see that our buyers continued to choose propane vehicles because they saw the economic advantages over gasoline and diesel options,” Perkins said.
In Perkins’ presentation, he talked about how the propane industry’s sales success in school buses makes a convincing case to managers of large truck fleets that can benefit as much as the school bus industry has from switching to propane autogas.

He wanted attendees to think about why 10,000 propane school buses are on the road but not that many medium-duty trucks. “They’re going to have quieter vehicles, happier drivers, improved image from polluting less, and having a real differentiator between them and their competitors,” Perkins noted.
 
PERC’s booth displayed an F-250 from the AAA fleet with an ICOM propane system, a vehicle from Bimbo Bakeries, an F-150 truck from Westport, and propane fueling dispensers from CleanFUEL USA and Superior Energy. Attendees could also visit Blossman Gas/Alliance AutoGas, CleanFUEL USA, Roush CleanTech, and PSI booths.

The increased awareness of propane autogas throughout the Work Truck Show impressed Perkins. “You continue to see fleet managers having positive experiences, and you continue to see [original equipment manufacturers] taking notice of that.”