Keeping America on the move, gasoline tanker fleets like the one operated by Chevron Products Co. operate 'round-the-clock to ensure customers have plenty of fuel. Good management practices combined with a reliable fleet is what Chevron's John Staffnef, manager-product supply West, says is the key.
Chevron's proprietary fleet averages 140 tractor-trailers, which service 2,000 company-owned and operated gas stations located primarily in the West.
“We've been standard on Peterbilt tractors and Heil aluminum tankers for many years,” says Staffnef. “We have long-standing arrangements with the manufacturers and believe in being consistent on equipment.”
Staffnef also believes in not over-spec'ing a truck in order to stay competitive with the industry. “What we do put extra effort into is issues that center on product integrity during the shipping process and on retaining good drivers with safety and comfort features like air cushion seats,” he says.
“To ensure product integrity and safety,” Staffnef continues, “we have built-in safeguards that would prevent a truck from being loaded with fuel if items such as the interlocks and overflow protection valves were not connected correctly. We also routinely test our pumping equipment and fuel level measurement devices to be sure they're in working order.”
The Chevron fleet delivers some 500,000 loads of gasoline a year. A nationwide dispatching service is employed to monitor gasoline usage at all locations. The Aspentech dispatching software, Staffnef notes, minimizes the chances that gas stations will run out of fuel or that overages will be delivered.
ON THE INDEPENDENT SIDE
As an independent gasoline distributor, Kentucky Oil and Refining has its own unique approach to fleet management. One of the most important cost-saving decisions the company made a few years ago was to begin leasing its equipment.
Chris Tomlinson, vice president at Kentucky Oil and Refining, says he turned to full-service leasing as an option because it allows him to focus on his business and customers without the maintenance worries and wide variances in costs associated with truck ownership.
Based in Betsy Layne, KY, Kentucky Oil and Refining makes its gasoline deliveries to local gas stations, as well as a group of nine convenience stores that the company operates in the eastern Kentucky region. It also does off-road work, delivering fuel products to construction sites and strip mines.
The fleet includes 27 Kenworth T800s leased from Appalachian Leasing, a PacLease branch located in Lexington, and spec'd with Caterpillar 370-435 hp. multi-torque engines. The company uses both straight trucks with 9,200-gal. tankers and tractor-trailers with 4,500-gal.-capacity double tankers.
Tomlinson says the trucks' many lightweight components have allowed his company to haul more product. “Between the truck and the engine, we're now saving 1,700 lb. per truck,” he reports. “Our fuel economy has also improved with these trucks, which we attribute to the more efficient Cat engines and the weight difference.”
All maintenance on the trucks is performed by PacLease. There are three PacLease mechanics employed full-time at Kentucky Oil and Refining's location. In addition, the company has three of its own mechanics to service the tankers and gasoline pumping units.
“One of the selling points for us in our decision to lease from PacLease was their maintenance structure. We've been leasing from them for two years, with great service and very minimal downtime on our equipment,” Tomlinson says.
He also reports a lower driver-turnover rate since his company began leasing the Kenworth trucks. “They like the driving and handling of the vehicles, which are all spec'd with air-ride suspensions,” he says. “We have 27 drivers making approximately three deliveries a day, and the trucks average 60,000 miles per unit per year.”