It's a conundrum facing many fleets these days: how to cut operating costs while also reducing their environmental impact.
The Kenan Advantage Group, based in Canton, OH, believes it has found a way to do just that by substantially expanding its oil drain intervals using a bypass filtration system on its trucks. Not only does this generate significant savings from fewer oil changes, it reduces the company's purchase and disposal of engine oil, which is a hazardous waste material.
Kenan delivers refined petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel and aviation fuels, to a wide range of customers via its fleet of 3,100 tractors — working off a short-haul, “last-mile” delivery plan of products from pipelines and refineries to gasoline stations, fuel marketers and other end users, says R.J. Molder, the carrier's vp-fleet services.
“We routinely seek out innovative technologies to help better manage our fleet while also supporting steady business growth,” Molder explains. “We knew that finding the right solution for controlling oil costs could mean a huge financial savings, while also positioning the company for continued growth and making us more ‘green’ as well.”
Rapid expansion over the last several years made achieving those goals even more challenging. Since 2000, Kenan extended its infrastructure with seven acquisitions and 18 private fleet conversions, expanding its coverage from 14 to 32 states. This growth resulted in revenue increasing from $7 million in 1992 to almost $595 million in 2007. And as the fleet swelled to 3,100 trucks, equipment maintenance and oil-related costs became an even greater expense.
Two years ago, Kenan tested the OPS-1 onboard oil refining technology, which was developed by Oil Purification Systems of Shelton, CT, as a way to cut down on maintenance costs while reducing engine oil consumption and disposal issues. Four new vehicles operating from its Canton, OH, headquarters as well as from its Tampa, FL, facility were involved in the test. The company recorded the results, evaluating 27 attributes to determine the condition of the oil.
Kenan performed a cost analysis after the first samples at 25,000 mi. then again at 50,000 mi., says Molder, and when the laboratory results showed that the vehicles still did not need oil changes after 50,000 mi., the company quickly made the decision to roll out the product on the newest vehicles in the fleet while gradually retrofitting older tractor models.
“The decision was an easy one,” Molder notes. Kenan's trucks are now running about 120,000 mi. between oil changes, enabling the company to reduce its oil-related costs by about 60% overall and save $480 per vehicle each year. At the same time, engine oil consumption is reduced by some 25 gal. per tractor annually as well. “We still bring the trucks in every 10,000 mi. because we still have to do other regular maintenance and safety checks,” Molder stresses. “But the oil quality on the trucks…is so good that we could go well beyond 120,000 mi. between oil changes.”
Kenan is now retrofitting older vehicles dating back to 2004, and plans to have an additional 600 new trucks equipped with the technology by the end of this year.
“The original plan was to run the evaluation units until 120,000 mi., but we saw such compelling reasons to move forward with the implementation almost immediately,” Molder says. Getting an environmental benefit simultaneously just proved to be icing on the cake.