The evening before the 2018 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo, the Clean Transportation team at NC Clean Energy Technology Center displayed several plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles outside of the Durham Bulls baseball game on Aug. 21.
Learn more about electric vehicles by checking out our Electric Vehicles FAQ flyer here.
Attendees of the pre-conference events came to watch the game, enjoy networking and eat a barbeque dinner.
Rick Sapienza, Clean Transportation Director, accepted the game ball on the field and spoke with game announcers in a live radio interview (listen to below)!
The Mobile CARE awards recognize transportation emission reduction efforts that are advancing alternative fuel and transportation technology activities in North Carolina. For Mobile CARE, candidates were sought in three main categories: Individual, Policy/Organization, and Fuel/Technology Providers.
This award goes to an individual in North Carolina who-in both their professional and personal life- has worked to advance the adoption of sustainable transportation technologies and practices.
Jason Wager has been the coordinator of the Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition (CCFC) for 18 years. He provides leadership in the alternative fuels industry not only in the Charlotte region, but throughout the state and country. In North Carolina, Wager has been a long time education and outreach provider for the Clean Fuels Advanced Technology Program, a steering committee member for Plug-in NC and a member of NCSEA’s Electric Vehicle Working Group. He has organized countless educational activities related to clean transportation technologies in the Charlotte region. Nationally, Wager has served as a mentor to other Clean Cities coordinators and is a member of the Clean Cities Coordinator Council; these activities enable him to educate and assist new Clean Cities Coordinators.
This award goes to a public or private organization that has created a policy that deserves to be held up as an example of a Best Practice that should be more widely adopted.
The Town of Cary first adopted a Strategic Energy Action Plan in 2012 and modified it in 2015. As one of the three focus areas for reducing energy use was fleet. The overall plan calls for reducing energy use by 13% by 2020. As part of their Strategic Energy Action Plan the town has created a Fleet Efficiency Standard Procedure, which puts in place standard procedures around purchasing more efficient vehicles, utilization of vehicles, driver training on how to drive more efficiently, route selection to reduce vehicle miles traveled, and mandated annual reporting. The Town of Cary has seen a 11% improvement in MPG across their fleet and a 17% reduction in vehicle miles traveled since implementing the standard procedures.
Fuel or Technology Provider
This award goes to a fuel or technology provider in the state of North Carolina that has worked to advance the adoption or availability of clean transportation technologies in the state.
With a headquarters in Franklinton, TN, Novozymes is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of enzymes that help break down organic matter into biofuels. Novozymes has committed to following the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Globally, Novozymes has committed to reducing their carbon footprint by 100 million tons by 2020; as of 2016 they were 69% of the way toward their target. Here in North Carolina, Novozymes has been consistently committed to supporting educational efforts that promote clean transportation technologies. They have helped support the Particle Falls exhibit, the alternative fuel tailgates, and have a long-standing relationship with NASCAR regarding education on ethanol.
N.C. Smart Fleet
N.C. Smart Fleet focuses on fleet commitment and accomplishments in reducing petroleum use, thus reducing CO2 emissions and other harmful emissions. North Carolina based fleets (both public and private sector) are recognized by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center as supporters, leaders or champions based on their sustainability practices.
The following organizations were recognized at the NC Smart Fleet awards event:
NC Smart Fleet Champions have achieved the highest level of recognition that we offer. Through demonstrated emissions reductions, improvements in fuel economy, use of alternative fuel vehicles, and use of best practices, these fleets serve as examples for the rest of us.
BuildSense: BuildSense is a design-build general contractor with an emphasis on green-building in commercial and residential. Even among Champions, BuildSense stands out from the crowd with nearly 90% of their fleet being alt fueled, consuming almost 70% alternative fuel, including CNG, B100 biodiesel, and electricity. In 2018, they reduced their fuel use over 2017 consumption, and they burned only B100 in their biodiesel vehicles.
City of Charlotte: The City of Charlotte continues remarkable progress in interdepartmental collaboration and management of fleet data, which gives them extra leverage to reduce air pollution and improve fuel economy across City functions. For the second year, their application includes Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department; City Fire Department; Solid Waste Services; Water; Department of Transportation; Engineering and Property Management; Housing and Neighborhood Services. Nearly 22% of their total fleet is alt-fueled, including 30% of their light-duty fleet.
City of Durham: In 2017 City of Durham engaged an array of efforts and policies to cut pollution and plan for fuel efficiency: They used GIS and telemetry data to scrutinize efficiencies, routes, and idling in Solid Waste. The City replaced a number of police cruisers with fuel efficiency as a criterion. The City made substantial facility improvements and started a new stringent right typing / rightsizing replacement program.
EPES Transport System, Inc.: This freight hauler continues to run both liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks; and they continue to improve fuel economy through techniques such as monitoring tire pressure, mandating speed limits, purchasing trucks that are more aerodynamic, and using telematics. EPES continues testing several brands of trailer tails, and an electric APU device to further reduce fleet idling.
Town of Cary: Despite continued growth of population and demands for public services, Town of Cary continues to lead in purchasing high MPG vehicles, robust use of smart-fleet technologies, and exemplary policies to push their Championship status. In 2018 they significantly increased their alt-fueled share of total fleet to almost 5 and a half percent. The Town’s formal rules and guidance on clean transportation includes fuel efficiency, purchasing, right-sizing, and route-planning policies.
UNC Charlotte: UNC Charlotte’s steady Championship for clean transportation policies and practices shows in their 2018 application. After last year’s surge in use of electric vehicles from 48 new charging stations, light rail entering campus, and a new bike-share system, this year UNC-C tracked reductions in both vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and fuel consumption.
NCDOT Rail Division: NCDOT Rail Division is a new member of NC Smart Fleet for 2018. They run 8 locomotives for passenger service between Raleigh and Charlotte, and they have a strong history of innovation in pollution reduction. Despite new routes and increased vehicle miles traveled due to growth of demand for their services, the Rail Division continues to lead in deploying emissions reduction technologies.
Orange County: Orange County has been diligently working to improve fuel economy and reduce transportation pollution for years. This year’s Championship application highlighted the more than 11% of their fleet being alt-fueled, including 23 hybrids and 15 bi-fuel propane vehicles. The County reports 100% of its diesel vehicles being equipped with particulate filters or other emission reduction equipment. The County also have an Annual Sustainability Report on fleet MPGs, their GHG emissions inventory is being updated to include fleet activities, and they are directly coordinating with departments to implement telematics systems and a CarShare program.
NC Smart Fleet Leaders have demonstrated a commitment to improving the sustainability of their fleet and have implemented some clean transportation technologies and best practices in their fleets.
City of Winston-Salem: City of Winston-Salem is a new addition to the NC Smart Fleet program, and they join by reporting almost 2% of their fleet is alt-fueled, including 1.8% of whole fleet, 2.6% of light-duty fleet, using electric, hybrid, & CNG technologies. W-S reports an impressive 1% reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) from 2017 to 2018. This is a 141,000-mile reduction.
Charlotte-Mecklenberg School District Building Services Department: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools showed continued leadership in clean transportation in a number of ways. They significantly added to their alt-fueled fleet, increasing their percentage from less than 1% to more than 3.5% of fleet, using both dedicated and bi-fuel Propane, and gas-electric hybrids. They continue to use technologies such as anti-idling, GPS, route planning, and driver prompts to remember MPGs and Eco Driving techniques.
Durham City Transit Company: Durham City Transit Company is a new addition to the NC Smart Fleet program, shining with more than 40% of their fleet being alt-fueled – 25 hybrid buses out of total fleet of 61.
Gaston County: Gaston County is also a new addition to the NC Smart Fleet program, joining with more than 13% of their total fleet being alt-fueled. Almost 32% of their medium duty fleet runs on propane with the option to run gasoline.
GoTriangle: GoTriangle is another new addition to the NC Smart Fleet program for 2018. This regional transit agency serves more than 1.7 million people per year and has noteworthy policies in regards to clean transportation. GoTriangle reports 100% of their fleet using particulate filters.
The Mobile CARE and NC Smart Fleet awards are given by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center with support by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Industry experts discuss the present and future of alternative fuel vehicles
Fleet industry professionals, alternative vehicle experts, and sustainability advocates from around the country gathered recently for the 2018 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo in Durham, NC.
More than 50 speakers presented their practices and ideas at the two-day conference, including fleet managers, technicians, company presidents and CEOs, university professors, researchers, analysts, nonprofit managers and more. With all of the varying backgrounds in transportation, there seemed to be a definitive consensus on alternative fuels – whether electric, propane, biofuel or natural gas – the industry is moving forward, and the future looks bright.
“The electrification movement and the movement to diversify our source of fuels – it’s happening. There’s no point of return now,” said Tony Posawatz, industry leader and keynote speaker on day one of the conference. “The costs are coming down; the ecosystem is being built. But it will take some time.”
Keynote speaker Posawatz; who is recognized as an industry leader in product innovation and electrified vehicles as Vehicle Line Executive/Director for the Chevrolet Volt (and founding member), Avalanche, and Cadillac Escalade; kicked off the conference on Wednesday morning.
Posowatz noted the alternative fuel market has steadily risen each year, and more and more choices have become available to consumers.
“It’s important for the industry to grow and for customers to be satisfied,” Posawatz said.
“The Triangle Research area is an important area for taking transportation where it needs to go,” Posowatz said. “It’s an area for emerging technology, automobile, mobility as well as energy and environment altogether.”
Posawatz noted that while the industry is obviously improving, it’s still impossible to predict.
“The future of mobility is before us,” Posawatz said. “It will surprise us all, even myself. Anyone who tells you they know what it will look like… they’re wrong.”
The three conference tracks included Connected Fleets, Alternative Fuel Solutions, Deployment and Lessons Learned, while 12 breakout sessions covered Predictive Analytics; Electric Vehicles; Solutions for Port & Freight; Smart Mobility; Propane; Local, State, Federal Policies & Resources; Managing for Fleet Efficiency; Biofuels; Sustainable Garage & Facility Operations; Smart Cities & Smart Grid; Natural Gas; and Idle Reduction.
The first plenary panel, Future of Sustainability, featured Stuart Weidie, CEO of Alliance AutoGas; Loreana Marciante, Low Carbon Mobility Strategy Manager at Paul Allen Philanthropies; Scott Phillippi, Automotive Maintenance and Engineering Manager at UPS; and Scott Curran, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Phillipi compared the current state of the industry as a ‘big sandbox with a lot of different technologies.’
“We’re in a time in technology where perfect is a moving target,” said Phillippi. “As technology evolves, we may find that different things come to the forefront.”
While the plenary panel all came from different backgrounds, they agreed each alternative fuel and technology has its place and application.
“We’re seeing change happen more rapidly,” said Rick Sapienza of NCCETC. “There’s not one set solution. Use all the tools available to you.”
At the VW Settlement Plenary Panel, Michael Buff of Electrify America; Michael Abraczinskas of NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDEQ); Alexa Voytek of Office of Energy Programs at Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEQ); and Debra Swartz, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; discussed settlement funds coming from Volkswagen.
Over 40 exhibitors showcased their products, services, and vehicles in the Expo Hall. Plug-in and hybrid electric vehicles from Toyota, Mitsubishi, Chevy, and Chrysler were on display, as well as other vehicles fueled by natural gas and propane, including a heavy-duty Freightliner CNG trash roll-off hoist truck.
“The conference was a great success,” said Rick Sapienza, Clean Transportation Director at NCCETC. ” It brought together transportation professionals to exchange ideas on clean transportation technologies with a good mix of what is working today, and strategic thought-provoking discussion to consider and prepare for what might be coming tomorrow.”
“As we deploy new technologies and new companies come on board, the one thing that is certain is there are going to be bumps along the way,” Phillippi said. “This is not going to be easy, but it will be worth the effort.”
WHAT: The Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo, organized by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University and the N.C. Department of Transportation, offers this event for fleet managers and transportation-related decision-makers at organizations of all sizes. The conference will showcase the latest on technologies in the biofuels, natural gas and propane arenas. There will also be a strong focus on data-driven decisions and technologies.
WHEN: August 22: 8:30am – 6:00pm; Reception 6:00pm-7:30pm
August 23: 9:00am – 4:00pm; (2:30pm-4:00pm NC Smart Fleet Awards/Keynote)
WHERE: Durham Convention Center
301 West Morgan Street, Durham, NC 27701
WHO: Keynote speakers include:
• Scott Curran, PhD, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
• Robert Gordon, DeKalb County, Georgia Government Fleet Management Department
• Tony Posawatz, automotive innovation leader
• Chris Werner, Director of Technical Services, NC Department of Transportation
Plenary panel speakers
Future of Sustainable Transportation
• LoreanaMarciante, Smart City Challenge Initiative
• Scott Phillippi, UPS Corporate Automotive Engineering
• Stuart Weidie, Alliance AutoGas
• Scott Curran, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
• Michael Abraczinskas, NC Division of Air Quality
• Michael Buff, Electrify America
• Alexa Voytek, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Office of Energy Programs
• Debbie Swartz, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
• Joe Annotti, Glandstein, Neandross & Associates (moderator)
Over 50 speakers will present their expertise in Breakout Sessions with three tracks including Data & Solutions; Alternative Fuels & Advanced Technologies; Policy & Technology. View Agenda
Over 40 exhibitors will showcase products, services, and vehicles in the Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference Expo Hall. Vehicles on display will include plug-in and hybrid electric vehicles from Toyota, Mitsubishi, Chevy, and Chrysler. Other vehicles fueled by natural gas and propane will be displayed, including a heavy-duty Freightliner CNG trash roll-off hoist truck. View Exhibitor List
The City of Raleigh has more than 2,000 registered vehicles in its fleet used for a wide variety of services, including the police force, garbage, maintenance and repairs, public utilities, water and sewer and more, according to Fleet Services Superintendent Travis Brown.
Along with the wide range of vehicles, Raleigh also has a large number of alternative fuels and alternative vehicles to match.
The City, which isn’t new to the 100 Best Fleets list, uses 385 vehicles with B20 biodiesel, over 1,000 E85 flex fuel-compatible vehicles, 223 hybrids, 18 electric powered neighborhood vehicles, 25 vehicles that use propane, and 7 that use natural gas.
Brown, who has worked with the City of Raleigh for 16 years, said the City has been working to transform the fleet even before he arrived, when the City was already using biodiesel.
Brown said that so many alternative fuels have been introduced into the fleet because they help to reduce emissions, improve air quality, promote domestic energy production, help decrease fuel costs, and can help farmers.
The goal of the City is to take care of its citizens, Brown said – and using alternative fuels is a part of that.
“It’s about being a good steward of a city, and trying to do the right thing,” Brown said.
Raleigh also uses anti-idling technology in many of the police fleet vehicles. The Energy Xtreme Law Enforcement anti-idling system allows vehicles to operate their full electrical system (including lights, camera and radio) without using the vehicle’s engine, according to the City of Raleigh website.
After the first quarter of the anti-idling technology usage, about 962 gallons were saved from 29 vehicles that used it, according to the website. The projected annual savings were estimated at $63,199.
Previously, many City police vehicles were driving Ford Crown Victorias, and now they’re driving hybrid sedans – which Brown said saves a lot of money when it comes to fuel. The Crown Victorias were getting around 13-18 miles per gallon (MPG), he said, and the hybrids get around 30-38 MPG.
“It’s been a good investment on return, going that way,” Brown said.
In addition to alternative fuels, the City schedules vehicle replacements every year to ensure the fleet is kept modern.
Raleigh also uses a maintenance management system, which provides GPS information for departments on engine faults, idling, equipment and accountability.
The most challenging part of managing a fleet, Brown said, is communicating and educating – getting the word out to all staff about changes and plans, and educating on new ways of doing things and how those changes are beneficial.
Brown said he addresses it as much as he can by having meetings with service departments and providing data on fuel usage.
When running a fleet, Brown advises doing research, networking with those in the same industry to see what works for their fleet, looking at your own to figure out what could work for yours, and attempting to do some forecasting.
“There’s so much technology out there, and the automotive industry is changing so much,” Brown said. “Don’t look at necessarily what’s happening today – try to find what’s coming up three years down the road. You don’t want to get something approved, and then it’s outdated.”
Looking ahead, Brown said Raleigh hopes to push more telematics, eventually adding the technology to all vehicles being used. Currently, Raleigh uses a maintenance management system, but the City would like to upgrade to a web-based system so they can provide more transparency to users and customers.
Learn more about the City of Raleigh’s alternative fuel use by visiting the website here.
The goals of Wake County’s fleet are the same as most: to carry out productive, safe, efficient and sustainable service at the lowest cost possible.
But the smartest and most successful way to achieve that goal, they have found, is by implementing new technology to continuously track data and uncover information.
“It doesn’t appear to be moving fast, but there’s a lot going on,” said Fleet Director Thomas Kuryla as he walked around the vehicle shop at Wake County General Services Center. “Even on slow days when there isn’t a lot of mechanical work, there’s a lot of planning and data analysis.”
Wake County has been on the 100 Best Fleets list every year since 2010, once placing number three out of the country.
There are about 1,000 vehicles in the fleet, including cars, trucks, trailers and boats, with emergency response vehicles representing half.
About 60 vehicles run on diesel, and 20 run on B20 biodiesel, Kuryla said. 400 of their vehicles are E85 compatible. Wake County hasn’t purchased new hybrid or electric vehicles in about 3 years, but around 50 hybrid vehicles are currently in the fleet.
Out of the 1,000 vehicles and 200 that are serviced, there are a total of 10 mechanics.
“Our vehicles are in good enough shape that we don’t need as many,” Kuryla said.
Wake County has a preventative maintenance program in place that averts as many repairs. Vehicles are also sold with less mileage than most fleets. Many fleets keep their vehicles too long, Kuryla said, which means they’re stuck in the shop more for repairs, resulting in more downtown for drivers.
“By keeping our vehicles ahead of the game, we provide more service than other fleets out there,” Kuryla said. “People will say, ‘No, we can’t afford a new car…’ They need to think long-term and look at the big picture.”
Maintenance in the fleet is also done swiftly.
“At some places, the vehicles will spend two weeks in repair,” Kuryla said. “Here, they wait and leave — they’re working on it within 15 minutes and they’re out in less than an hour unless it’s a major repair.”
Kuryla has been Wake County Fleet Director since 2002, and he has orchestrated and seen many changes. One of the first adjustments Kuryla recommended was to transform and redesign the service and parts departments so that they were connected, and could communicate openly as a team.
“In a lot of industries, they’re battling each other,” Kuryla said. “We really wanted them to be teamed together.”
Kuryla said a big success Wake County’s fleet has had is with telematics, a system that collects data from vehicles when they’re on the road to improve efficiency. Telematics tracks the vehicles’ locations, miles per hour, time spent idling, starting or stopping too fast, whether or not the driver is wearing his or her seatbelt, and more. Drivers will be alerted with a beep when going beyond their limits, and supervisors are also automatically notified in some instances.
When telematics was first installed on the vehicles, drivers were getting a lot of beeps, Kuryla said. It didn’t take long for that to reduce considerably.
Additional upgrades and changes are still to come.
Recently, the fleet introduced reusable oil filters, which increase the life of oil and keep them from ending up in a landfill. The reusable filters were put on 20 vehicles and tested for over a year. Kuryla plans to have all of their vehicles transitioned within 6 months.
The oil is also tracked with software that automatically changes intervals and notifies departments when the oil needs changing.
This year, they plan to introduce a drive over tread depth tire reader, which will generate data on the pressure and alignment, measuring the tread depth of each tire to decide whether or not it should be replaced.
Kuryla said the biggest challenge for their fleet is a common one — making advancements within the budget.
“We try to do our research and data analysis to justify why we want to do something,” Kuryla said. “Like the oil filters. Saying ‘I want to spend $75,000 buying filters’ – someone would say, ‘You’re crazy.’ But we just spent a whole year testing and found that we’ll have that buyback very quick.”
Kuryla suggests when trying to implement changes for a fleet, it’s helpful to talk to those who will be affected by asking their suggestions and opinions. For example, the new tire depth reader is talked about openly in the shop on purpose, Kuryla said. He hopes to increase interest and encourage discussion. When the oil filters were implemented, the mechanics openly discussed their experience and then helped come up with a better system.
“Get buy-in for everything you do.” Kuryla said. “Ask what would you like? What would make your job better? Get them involved. ”
While experts at the Sustainable Fleet Management & Technologies Training came from a wide variety of backgrounds in fleet management, they shared a similar sentiment.
“The world’s changing; the climate’s changing. We’re finding out it’s a dirty fuel we’re relying on,” said Michael Taylor, of Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). “Alternative fuels are here to stay.”
The June 20 training covered an assortment of topics involving all things fleets — including sustainability metrics, vehicle selection standards, life-cycle cost analysis, change management, electric/hybrid vehicles and charging, idle reduction technologies, CNG, LPG and biofuels.
Rick Sapienza, of the NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC), estimated there was about 200 years of experience in the room.
Presenters included Emily Barrett, Town of Cary NC Sustainability; Al Curtis, Cobb County GA Fleet Management; Chris Facente, University of NC Charlotte; Joe O’Neill, CNG Guy Consulting; Brandon Pasinski, Town of Cary NC Fleet Management; George Survant, National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA); and Michael Taylor, PERC; as well as Rick Sapienza, John Bonitz and Heather Brutz of the NCCETC.
Whether a fleet uses electric, CNG, LPG, biofuels or a combination of those applications, some work better than others — it all depends on the individual fleets’ needs.
“It isn’t one size fits all,” Sapienza said.
Survant, who discussed fleet sustainability metrics, said he encourages fleets to stay focused by regularly trying to come up with creative, innovative solutions.
“The array of solutions is unprecedented for us,” Survant said. “I think if we as fleet leaders don’t keep our antennae up to that right solution match to the problems we have to deal with, we miss a good opportunity.”
Barrett and Pasinski, who shared the Town of Cary’s sustainable fleet journey, advised utilizing the right vehicle for the job, using what you already have, and buying only what you need. The two also suggested driving correctly, limiting waste, spending time on maintenance, and planning your routes.
“The key is getting to know your resources,” Barrett said. “It’s a process. It takes time and culture.”
Curtis discussed change management, explaining that giving your team what they need to kick-start and accelerate change is of utmost importance. You can inspire and empower your team by offering ideas and using storytelling, and offering insights and practical methods, Curtis said.
Cobb County started with CNG stations, then purchased Flex Fuel cars, propane vehicles, hybrid cars, and now has 29 Nissan Leafs, 4 Zero Cycles and 45 charging stations with 1 DC fast charger, Curtis said.
“You must not just change, you must transform,” Curtis said.
Poger talked about electric vehicles and their wide-range of benefits. Among them are fuel cost savings, lower maintenance, noise reduction and employee safety, exhaust/emissions reduction and more.
Taylor showed how propane is widely used, increasing in its use both in the US and abroad, and how it can be utilized more in the future. Propane is also non-toxic, he said — if it’s spilled it would dissipate, and it can’t be blown up like gas can.
Joe O’Neill discussed the value of NVGs (Natural Gas Vehicles) — informing that natural gas supply is estimated to be large enough to meet the US energy needs for the next 100 years. NVG is also a cleaner burning fuel, he said, with greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 20 to 30 percent when compared to diesel and gasoline. NVGs are also at a lower cost per energy unit compared to diesel or gasoline.
Brutz talked about creating a sustainable fleet plan, vehicles selection standards, and life-cycle cost analysis — which looks at all the costs associated with owning or leasing a vehicle to determine what the total cost of owning the vehicle is over its lifetime.
Sustainable fleet goals should include emissions (environmental), energy (economic), and efficiency, Brutz said. The key components of a sustainable fleet plan are to commit to a process, set reduction targets, measure actions, and review and revise.
When it comes to managing a sustainable fleet and making any kind of change — even with the right knowledge, ideas and equipment — standstills and setbacks are not uncommon.
“It’s not always a magic bullet,” Facente said. “You do have challenges when going uphill.”
But the presenters agreed the future looks bright.
“These technologies work, they’re just different,” Sapienza said. “Embrace technology and embrace change.”
This week, we take a look at UNC Charlotte‘s fleet and talk to Automotive/Motor Fleet Supervisor Christopher Facente. The university has been a part of the 100 Best Fleets three years in a row, improving its place each time.
There are 500 vehicles in the fleet, and about 150 of them are electric — ranging from Nissan Leafs to smaller work trucks, Facente said.
Older, less fuel-efficient vehicles have been replaced with utility carts and Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs), and most of the fleet’s Ford Rangers are now NEV Global Electric Motorcars (GEMs). The total cost of ownership, potential future repairs, and life-cycle costs are calculated to keep the fleet up to date and sustainable.
Facente said to keep improving on the fleet, he’s looking at more sustainability in general. There is already a recycling program in place, and the fleet reduces waste by carrying out practices such as recycling oil filters and enforcing a no-idle policy on campus.
“We looked at our processes, started to streamline little things…” Facente said. “It’s slow, but it does take time to implement these changes. As we work on them, we get better.”
UNC Charlotte also has a robust maintenance program for electric vehicles, which are maintenanced monthly, Facente said. The repairs are tracked through Archibus, a centralized data platform, and history is checked for repeat problems/technician faults.
The fleet restructured the campus into zones and put maintenance shops near areas where the fleets work. In the old system, there was a central base dispatch to anywhere on campus. Now, each zone has electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technicians and are never over 3 miles from the buildings they service. Telematics have also been put on vehicles.
With all of the different changes, Facente handles it by communicating.
“You’re always going to have challenges with change,” Facente said. “Getting an employee to give up a truck and go to an EV can be a challenge. But if you take your time, explain the benefits, you can pretty much get everyone on board.”
As for advice, Facente suggests having a top-down strategy so that upper management approves, and being sure to not make a sudden change. In addition, taking the time to do a lot of homework to find the correct vehicles that will fit your fleet is vital.
“Electric works for us, but it may not work for everyone,” Facente said.
To share ideas among employees freely within the fleet, there is a brainstorming session every month, a fleet email group to share ideas, and a shop meeting weekly where technicians are encouraged to share ideas and problem-solve. The fleet has a Learning and Development center on campus with a variety of soft skill classes for every staff member.
Along with brainstorming meetings, there is a staff meeting every quarter where teams are recognized for their job performances. The safe team award is also given when the team goes without accidents.
(Facente would like to thank Associate Vice Chancellor Phil Jones and the late Larry Lane, who was his predecessor getting the program started.)
This week, Fuel What Matters features 100 Best Fleets of the Americas winner City of Durham.
City of Durham’s fleet, which consists of about 1,520 vehicles and equipment, is a typical municipal fleet with cars and trucks (both light/heavy duty), refuse collection vehicles, police and fire vehicles, and construction equipment, according to Fleet Management Director Joseph Clark.
Durham has received the 100 Best Fleets Award every year since 2010, has been named as a Top 50 Fleet by the Leading Fleets Award Program from 2014 to 2018, and has multiple times been recognized for the Green Fleet Awards.
“We are proud to be afforded the opportunity to both participate and be recognized,” Clark said of the 100 Best Fleets award. “Our highest ranking has been 7th, but we are optimistic for the future.”
Clark said he thinks the City of Durham fleet’s careful cost analyzation to determine what works well for the organization and its stakeholders is what the fleet does best.
Durham uses a Fleet Information Management System that captures accurate relative data; and dealer and OEM level software and technician training. The fleet also benchmarks other leading agencies in their successes and failures to minimize missteps and maximize returns; and uses optimized tuning equipment, advanced telematics and idle reduction technology to increase fleet efficiency.
“Our recognition is tied to our dedication to managing the fleet utilizing some of the best and latest tools available,” Clark said.
Durham also has plan in place with a goal of reducing annual maintenance cost and average cost per mile, increasing average fuel economy, and reducing fossil fuel consumption, Clark said.
Through the years, underutilized vehicles have been removed, allowing the fleet to decrease in size. Clark said this has been done by outsourcing police upfit builds, remarketing used vehicles within the City, and adopting a sustainability plan that includes fuel reduction goals, right-sizing and right-typing vehicles, utilizing smaller engines in police vehicles, eliminating 4-wheel drive when not needed, and more.
To keep improving on the City of Durham’s fleet, Clark said they hope to further invest in hybrid vehicles, along with continued investment in anti-idle technology.
In addition to reducing fossil fuel use and right-sizing vehicles, Durham’s fleet also implements programs for its staff.
The fleet holds monthly staff meetings where discussion is focused on topics that encompass the whole organization, Clark said. The City has a program called Idea Starter that encourages new ideas and has a pool of funds to contribute to selected ideas.
“Recognition is a key component that encourages ideas to be brought forward,” Clark said. “We push a continuous learning philosophy.”
Throughout the years, the fleet has also faced challenges. There was a period of time when economic factors forced underfunding of fleet replacement — a deficit that created a backlog of vehicles, Clark said. The fleet continues to try to remedy the backlog while investing new ideas when opportunities exist.
When it comes to advice, Clark suggests “buy-in from the top.”
“Buy-in from the top is paramount — if upper management does not support the idea, it will be difficult to be successful,” Clark said.
Seven fleets from North Carolina made it on the 100 Best Fleets in the Americas’ list of winners for 2018 — and in the next several weeks, Fuel What Matters will be featuring each fleet and what it has done to achieve success.
Nuckolls said Concord’s fleet has become more efficient through the years by implementing a career development program, rightsizing vehicles, and using alternative fuels and technologies.
Concord began implementing more fuel-efficient strategies and equipment in 2003. Electric cars and EV chargers are used throughout the city, and today, about 5 percent of Concord’s light-duty fleet is comprised of hybrid electric vehicles.
In the police fleet, Concord moved from 9-cylinder cars to 6-cylinders, which Nuckolls estimates saves about 34K gallons of fuel per year. Concord also uses B20 blend biodiesel for all diesel vehicles, which he estimated displaces 60,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually.
“Fuel usage over the last 10 years has not increased very much at all — it remains flat,” Nuckolls said.
The City Of Concord is an active participant in the Clean Cities coalition and is a core stakeholder in the Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition, according to their website. Fleet Services also developed and administers the Concord Air Awareness Program, which educates and informs City employees about air quality issues.
“From the very get-go, we wanted to implement alternative fuels,” Nuckolls said. “Mainly for air quality, but also, certain things are helping cost.”
One of the most successful improvements of the City of Concord Fleet Services Department, Nuckolls said, is the Career Development Program, which is designed to reward and advance the careers of technicians, parts personnel, and supervisors by converting their training and experience into ASE Certifications (Automotive Service Excellence).
The Career Development Program was implemented in 2003 when the fleet had a total of 3 ASE certifications among 8 technicians, 2 supervisors, and 2 parts personnel. Now, the fleet has 84 ASE certifications with 6 Master Mechanic certifications.
Nuckolls said the program has led the fleet to become the lowest cost fleet in North Carolina for five consecutive years.
“As fleet director, I feel it is important to encourage individuals to distinguish themselves and to provide incentives for continuous improvement,” Nuckolls said. “As our technicians become more proficient, so does our fleet maintenance program, which drives our fleet availability and productivity. “