If a fleet manager had a wish list, the two highest priority items on the board would be to improve vehicle fuel economy and lower life-cycle costs.
For Plano, Texas-based Safety-Kleen Systems, wishes do come true in the form of the Kenworth T270, a Class 6 truck that has excelled in Safety-Kleen's pick-up and delivery operation.
With more than 200 locations throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, Safety-Kleen operates more than 1,800 Class 6-8 trucks. The smaller trucks haul 50-gallon drums of chemicals and solvents, along with dry goods. The Class 8 trucks, many of which are Kenworth T800s with 4,000-gallon tanks, are utilized primarily in used oil collection and re-refining.
The company collects and re-refines more than 200 million gallons of used motor oil a year. And since it takes up to 85 percent less energy to produce than oil from crude, this process at Safety-Kleen's plants eliminates over 1 million tons of greenhouse gases annually. The API-licensed motor oil is sold under Safety-Kleen's EcoPower brand. The company reports that it's the largest oil recycling business in North America.
And this is another small way for the country to wean itself off foreign oil.
Safety-Kleen is also committed to reducing the amount of diesel fuel used by its trucks. "We're an environmental services company," said Dan Kratz, Safety-Kleen's director of fleet operations. "These trucks reflect our continued commitment to being 'green' in everything we do." When the company put 60 Kenworth T270s into service in 2011, the trucks improved fuel economy by 12 percent over the medium duty trucks they replaced.
"We run reports and know all the costs of our vehicles, including fuel," said Kratz. "So what we're saving in fuel is very significant when you consider each of those 60 Kenworth T270s average 25,000 to 30,000 miles per year."
According to Kratz, Safety-Kleen purchases all of its vehicles at its headquarters in Plano, then distributes them to company locations dotting the country. The Kenworth T270s, with 18-foot boxes, are spec'd with the PACCAR PX-6 engine rated at 250-hp and driven through automatic transmissions. The trucks were purchased through MHC Kenworth.
"MHC Kenworth has been great to work with," said Kratz. "They reviewed all the specs with us and we made a change from manual to automatic transmissions for our T270s. That's been a great decision, especially for our newer drivers. Plus, MHC worked very well with our body builder, making sure of a pain-free installation."
Vehicle performance, coupled with dealer support has led Safety-Kleen to standardize on the Kenworth T270. "Thanks to the T270's performance and the positive driver reaction, it's now the truck of choice for our medium duty fleet," said Kratz. "While we're saving significantly on fuel consumption, reliability of the Kenworths is a key to our operation, as is driver satisfaction. Our delivery trucks make, on average, 10 daily stops. We're getting great reviews from our drivers on the ride, the sharp turning radius, and ergonomics of the cab. Plus, they like the lower profile of the truck, which makes getting in and out easier. That's important because in our business - where our driver is the service and technical interface with our customer - employee retention is vitally important. Each of our drivers is highly trained."
According to Kratz, the full life cycle costs of the Kenworths - based on maintenance costs and resale value - won't be known for years to come. "We hold our trucks up to 12 years," he said. "So far the Kenworths are doing very well and we expect that trend to continue. And, historically, Kenworth trucks have commanded higher resale values than other brands of trucks. And we're getting better value through improved fuel economy, driver acceptance and resale value in the long run."
Safety-Kleen is a leading North American used oil recycling and re-refining, parts cleaning and environmental solutions company, with approximately 4,300 employees serving more than 270,000 customer locations in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Safety-Kleen provides a broad set of environmentally-responsible products and services that keep North American businesses in balance with the environment. For more information, please visit www.safety-kleen.com or call (800) 669-5740.
About Kenworth Truck Company
Kenworth Truck Company is the manufacturer of The World's Best® heavy and medium duty trucks. Kenworth is an industry leader in providing fuel-saving technology solutions that help increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. The company's dedication to the green fleet includes aerodynamic trucks, compressed and liquefied natural gas trucks, and medium duty diesel-electric hybrids. Kenworth is the only truck manufacturer to receive the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Excellence award in recognition of its environmentally friendly products. In addition, the fuel-efficient Kenworth T700 equipped with the low-emission PACCAR MX engine was named the 2011 Heavy Duty Commercial Truck of the Year by the American Truck Dealers. Kenworth is also the recipient of the 2011 J.D. Power and Associates award for Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Heavy Duty Truck Dealer Service. Kenworth's Internet home page is at www.kenworth.com. Kenworth. A PACCAR Company.