EPA Fuel Standards: Budgeting for the Unknown…Fuel Costs & Engine Maintenance in a Green World
This is a guest post from David Naus. He is an independent Distributor from Fuel Direct. The information provided below is in line with our thoughts on creating sustainable transportation and logistics for both our carrier partners, our customers, and of course for the environment, as new studies come out about the impact of transportation and gasoline on the environment every day.
If you would like to know more about fuel efficiency and how to reduce fuel costs, please contact David by email or by phone at 630-639-6009.
We felt this blog post would add value to those thinking about and wanting to comply with stricter EPA fuel standards.
Meeting & Exceeding EPA Fuel Standards with Proper Planning
Independent owner operators and fleet owners find themselves at a fork in the road as 2013 EPA Fuel Standards compound the budget-busting reality of today's uncertain fuel markets.
The dilemma is this: how to absorb fuel price increases and the cost of engine maintenance associated with the conversion to alternative fuels in order to meet these ever stricter EPA fuel standards. Can I maintain profit margins by passing the expense on to customers through fuel surcharges? And if I can't do that and remain competitive, then what about expense-side cuts?
The reality is that operators and owners are crunching numbers on both sides of the balance sheet as they choose a path on this new frontier of EPA fuel standards. And the ROI considerations when running both efficiently and green are many. Is it worth converting my existing fleet to accommodate alternative fuels or should I invest in new equipment? How quickly will supply and demand curves shift for alternative fuels, and how will that impact pricing? Which fuels are best suited for compliance with emissions standards set forth in the 2013 EPA fuel standards? If an accident occurs, which fuels are less risky from a public/employee safety standpoint?
All good questions. But also under scrutiny are the potential downsides of a higher B factor in diesel and a higher alcohol level in gas, both of which are required to comply with new emission EPA fuel standards. Will these changes increase fuel contamination? We do know that the higher B factor of alternative fuels means heavier fuel and more water retention--water that can damage pricey fuel injector tips, cause corrosion, reduce MPG and power, and produce faster freeze-ups in cold climates. Is there a way to keep older equipment running longer and protect newer equipment? Can I blunt the financial impact of maintenance problems like fouled fuel injectors and EGR valves, regeneration units that run too often, clogged fuel filters, and lack of lubricity in the upper chamber due to lower sulfur diesel? Are there ways to reduce fuel consumption while also improving my carbon footprint? Bottom line, is there any one product on the market that can address all of these issues?
The answer is "yes", but you may have a tough time believing that if past experience tells you otherwise. Many carriers have spent time and money in base line testing over the years only to discover that most products have failed to meet their claims. As a result, maintenance managers are often reluctant to revisit the changing landscape of fuel enhancement products even though it makes economic sense now to do that.
You have choices today. And because you know the issues, you're well-positioned to ask the right questions. Beginning with the basics, ask vendors whether their products will:
- chemically break down water into micro-size droplets before it reaches pre-filters and injectors
- reduce carbon emissions from 40% to 60%
- lubricate the upper engine chamber to prevent corrosion and dried-up gaskets and seals
- act as an anti-gel to protect fuel in cold conditions
- atomize fuel for a more controlled burn
- enhance cetane/octane and increase power
- result in a measurable baseline increase in MPG
The environmental benefits of green trucking present added challenges to owners and operators as they look for cost-effective ways to protect equipment and drive increased MPG. Finding the right product to preserve your fleet investment is critical to your bottom line. But when you factor in reduced fuel consumption, the savings compound quickly. Consider a truck fleet with 5,000 units averaging 80,000 miles per year and paying $3.85 per diesel gallon with a current baseline of 6.7 MPG. Here are the projected savings after deducting the cost of one fuel enhancer product, Xp3:
At the end of the day, the fuel enhancement product you choose should include quality consultation to help you understand its features and to coach you through specific baseline tests that prove out product claims. And if you are considering a baseline test, ask whether your consultant can provide a product use history on different types of machines along with client testimonials. You'll want to understand the varying levels of success experienced on different machines and also the net savings AFTER product cost.
You need to be convinced that these products are working for you, and your product consultant should stay on the job until that happens. That should be ground zero in their commitment to you!