Kenworth News

CalPortland®: A Step Ahead with a Green Footprint

“We’re a leader. Not a follower.” That’s the matter-of-fact mantra Steve Mitchell has about CalPortland®, the oldest continually producing Portland cement company west of the Rocky Mountains. With nearly 4,000 pieces of equipment – which includes 1,300 mixers and 450 additional Class 8 units (dumps, flat decks, pneumatic, boom, water trucks, and others), as well as 205 medium duty trucks – CalPortland is also one of the largest. The company operates in five U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

Kenworth T880S CNG Mixer

“Our history (the company was founded in 1891) has been built on innovation,” said Mitchell, who serves as vice president of asset management for CalPortland. “That goes for the trucks we use, the cement plants we operate, and our approach to environmental stewardship. We lead.”

Lead they do. CalPortland has been recognized by the EPA with the prestigious Energy Star Award for 15 years and 13 consecutive Energy Star Sustained Partner Awards for its environmental work. Creative? CalPortland built its own 24-megawatt wind farm to power its cement plant in Mohave, California – a plant that produces 1.2 million tons of cement annually.

Its truck fleet, and from whom they buy trucks, are also aligned with the company’s efficiency and environmental efforts. “When we buy trucks and place them into service throughout our locations, we buy Kenworth – our history with the brand shows we get value, low life-cycle costs, and just as important, product and dealer support,” said Mitchell. “Kenworth is the premier supplier of vocational trucks; its trucks can handle the rigors on construction sites – they’re reliable and durable, and Kenworth engineers understand our business. What’s more, Kenworth and PACCAR are very much like our company when it comes to environmental stewardship. We know about, and we audit our suppliers when it comes to sustainability. We only work with companies that share our environmental vision.”

Kenworth T880S CNG Mixer

That vision works its way all the way to its trucks. Starting last September in California, Catalina Pacific®, a CalPortland® Company, began placing into service 118 new Kenworth T880S set-forward front axle mixers through NorCal Kenworth. The mixers use compressed natural gas (CNG) and are powered by the 8.9-liter Cummins Westport ISL G Near Zero NOx engine. The 320-hp mixers are outfitted with the 10-1/2 yard McNeilus Bridgemaster® Transit mixer body, and operate in five locations across the Los Angeles metro area. At two of the sites, Catalina Pacific®, a CalPortland® Company, installed its own CNG fueling stations – costing more than $1.3 million each. Kenworth trucks at the three other locations use public CNG stations for re-fueling.

“We were provided grant money from CARB (California Air Resources Board) to help offset the additional cost of the CNG equipment in the Kenworth T880S mixers. We have high hopes to bring CNG trucks to Oregon and more into California,” said Mitchell. “State incentives are not driving the decision. Our environmental mindset is. We very much want to see our industry move toward CNG power, and we want to lead the way. These engines are much cleaner for the environment. Who doesn’t want that?”

Kenworth T880S CNG Mixer

While the company is in its infancy when it comes to CNG, it’s very mature when it comes to running a fine-tuned operation with diesel power, and trucks configured to maximize payload. CalPortland was one of the first companies to place the Kenworth T880 into service. The first orders were configured as dump trucks.

“When we did it, I wasn’t sure how our drivers would react,” recalled Mitchell. “So, I decided to go down to Southern California where the 20 T880s were in service to find out. I hung around the yard and when the trucks came in, started talking to the drivers. I wanted real comments – and they gave them to me. They told me how much nicer the trucks were than the T800s – and those were great Kenworth trucks. They loved the T880’s visibility, the comfort, and all the room inside the cab. To not have one complaint from a driver? That’s very rare in the driver’s world. It showed me that from a driver’s standpoint, Kenworth had hit a home run with the T880.”

Kenworth T880S CNG Mixer

When it comes to spec’ing mixers, CalPortland is transitioning to the T880S with set-forward front axle from the Kenworth W900S. “We have 70 T880S trucks with PACCAR MX-11 engines that will go into service in Washington state in June, and they’ll be equipped with the 11-yard McNeilus Bridgemaster® Transit mixers bodies,” Mitchell said. “We need the set-forward to conform to bridge laws while maximizing payloads, so when the T880 became available in that set-forward axle configuration, we were ready to order.”

According to Mitchell, spec’ing gets challenging since each state has different weight regulations. “In California, we strip down to be as light as possible – 9-liter engines, lighter suspensions – we even take the passenger seat out. We can only haul 66,000 pounds gross, so every pound counts.” he said. “Our T880S CNG chassis weigh 15,854 pounds, while our diesel Kenworth W900S trucks come in at 14,000 pounds.

“In other states – Nevada has a 129,500 GCW, and it’s 105,000 in Washington – we bulk up the power and axle configurations, so our tare weight goes up to handle the heavier loads. We’ve standardized on the PACCAR MX-13 engine, and run the PACCAR MX-11 when we have weight sensitive applications. We were an early adopter of the PACCAR MX engine, and they’ve performed well for us. They have a million-mile rating, are very fuel-efficient, and they’re backed by PACCAR. Integration means a lot to us.”

Kenworth T880S CNG Mixer

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