ULSD ultimately

July 1, 2006
JOHN Shreiner, owner of Desert Refined Products Transport Inc (DRPT), has been hauling jet fuel since the late 1980s, experience he expects will pay off

JOHN Shreiner, owner of Desert Refined Products Transport Inc (DRPT), has been hauling jet fuel since the late 1980s, experience he expects will pay off as the ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) market expands as a result of new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements.

“We've had dedicated trailers for jet fuel for years,” the Phoenix, Arizona, carrier says. “Handling a product like that is similar to what we will be doing with ULSD. The dedicated trailers mean that we don't have to worry about cross contamination like we would if we were trying to haul other products.”

Under the EPA standard, ULSD content can't exceed 15 parts per million (ppm). Petroleum terminals must begin handling ULSD by September 1, 2006, and retail sales of the fuel must be underway by October 15. Some terminals and carriers, such as DRPT, began handling the fuel in trials earlier this year.

Shreiner projects that a third of his petroleum fleet eventually will be dedicated to ULSD with 11-12 tank trailers slated for that use.

To begin to meet the expected demand, he has ordered four new DOT407 tank trailers that initially will be for jet fuel, but can be cleaned and then dedicated for ULSD when and if necessary. DOT407 single-compartment trailers already in the fleet for jet fuel also can be transitioned to ULSD as needed.

Another advantage in the jet fuel experience is that the company's drivers are trained and experienced in transporting a product that requires special handling to avoid cross-contamination.

As for logistics involved with ULSD, the anticipation is that the operation will resemble a “milk run” with a trailer loaded at a terminal and delivered to one customer, says Rick Owens, vice-president for operations and marketing.

During a walk through the terminal yard, Shreiner points to the tank trailers parked there and says: “That's what you are going to be seeing a lot of. We will have too many trailers parked rather than on the road because the ULSD-dedicated trailers just won't get as much use. Parking equipment will prevent us from bringing in enough revenue to offset the expense of the additional trailers.”

Industry issue

Shreiner's concerns are shared by the tank truck industry. Dedicated trailers call for new purchases to augment the fleet and more drivers to fill the seats of tractors. Neither comes at little expense — or in little time.

“The industry doesn't have much choice,” Shreiner says. “The costs will be passed on by everyone that has to handle ULSD.”

Adding ULSD to the carrier's plate piled high with driver shortages, rising insurance rates, and skyrocketing diesel prices isn't causing Shreiner to push back from the table. He plans to continue to grow the company as the economy and market dictate — and as he as done since beginning in the trucking business as an owner-operator in 1986 in Tucson, Arizona.

At that time, Shreiner picked up asphalt in Mexico and trucked it into the United States.

“Cost continued to increased until it was time for me to do something else,” he says. “I had all my eggs in that one basket, so I learned the hard way about diversification.”

In 1989, he formed DRPT in Coolidge, Arizona, to transport petroleum products and eventually expanded his customer base to Phoenix. By 1995, he had moved the company headquarters to Phoenix.

Today, the operation has about $12.8 million in annual revenue and transports diesel, gasoline, motor oils, jet fuel, aviation gas, and asphalt. The fuels make up about 80% of the business. Asphalt accounts for the remaining 20%.

Operating area

The operation extends from Arizona across the Southwest, including New Mexico, Texas, and Utah, and into California. During the 2005 hurricanes, DRPT transported fuel to Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and occasionally other demands found the trucks on the roads in other states.

Typical end users are small and large airports, fuel distributors, and convenience stores. When there are forest fires, the carrier supplies fuel to helicopters and other aircraft used in the firefighting, Owens says.

To meet customer needs, DRPT has terminals in Phoenix and Tucson; Las Vegas, Nevada; and El Paso, Texas. Dispatchers are based in Phoenix and in Las Vegas, but the Las Vegas dispatch is turned over at night and on weekends to Phoenix. The Phoenix office operates 24/7 with five dispatchers split into two shifts.

The driver pool includes 100 company drivers and 10 owner/operators. “In much of our operation, the new HOS regs work in our favor because of the 34-hour-off reset,” Shreiner says. “In the past, if we had a slow week and then the business increased in another week, we had to adjust driver schedules. Now that's not an issue.”

Several years ago, the carrier chose @Road Inc for fleet tracking. The program also tracks vehicle performance and schedules maintenance. The carrier chose to use the @Road system for tracking and Verizon cell phones for communication between dispatchers and drivers.

“We know where the trucks are at any given time,” says Owens. “This system has enhanced our customer service efficiency by allowing us to achieve accurate times of arrivals.”

The @Road GeoManager tracking program is accessed via the Internet on demand. Using a password, the program can be accessed away from the terminals. “This makes it even more convenient,” Shreiner says. “I can check on any vehicle from home or anywhere else where I can access the Internet.”

Working in conjunction with the tracking system is TruckWin32 from Computerized Management Systems Inc. The program coordinates dispatch, billing, accounts payable and receivables, payroll, and fuel tax.

Current fleet

With the electronic programs in place, coordinating the fleet became much easier, Shreiner says. The current fleet consists of 50 tank trailers — DOT406s for diesel, gasoline, and motor oils and DOT407s for handling jet fuel. Also included are 14 tank trailers for asphalt. The majority of the trailers are supplied by Beall Corp. Six additional Beall DOT406 trailers are scheduled for delivery in 2007. In addition, Shreiner has ordered two tank trailers from Brenner and two from Heil Trailer International that will be delivered in 2006 to increase the ULSD service capability.

The newest DOT406 Beall tank trailers currently in the fleet are specified with 9,500-gallon capacity and four compartments: two 3,000-gallon, one 2,000-gallon, and the fourth with 1,500 gallons. Components include Emco Wheaton API adapters, and Civacon overfill protection, vapor vents, and domelids.

Shreiner specified Beall low profile trailers for more stability. Running gear includes Hendrickson Intraax narrow beam suspension and Haldex antilock braking. The carrier chose Stemco hub seals with packed bearings that use Mobil's Mobilith SHC lubricant.

He also specified the Hendrickson's Tiremaax automatic tire inflation system that uses the trailer air supply to maintain tire pressure up to a preset level. Governed by an electronic control unit, Tiremaax detects low tire pressure and signals the driver to situations or circumstances requiring attention.

A trailer-mounted indicator illuminates only when maintenance is required and can be viewed by the driver from the cab through the rear-view mirror.

Weight reduction

In an effort to reduce weight on the trailers, Shreiner spec'd Alcoa aluminum wheels and Michelin X-One widebase single tires. He estimates that about 450 pounds are saved with the use of the single tires.

DRPT mechanics installed Munci Power Products hot shift power takeoffs on the tractors. The Munci PTOs drive Blackmer product pumps, and the operating switch is at the rear of the tractor.

“This system is much more convenient for the driver to handle,” says Owens. “With other PTO systems, drivers had to climb back into the cab to activate them.”

The Brenner 8,500-gallon petroleum trailers have single compartments and are equipped with Betts domelids, valves, roadside Wet-R-Dri valves, vapor recovery, surge suppression relief valves, and normal vents located in the domelid. Bayco Industries supplies curbside API adapters and Flotech overfill protection systems. Rochester Gauges Inc provides Rough Rider gauges for capacity indication.

The new Heil DOT407 single-compartment aluminum double-conical tank trailers used to haul jet fuel have a capacity of 8,500 gallons. They are equipped with Girard pressure-relief vents and three-inch magnetic vacuum breakers. Civacon provides emergency and secondary valves, as well as vapor recovery and overfill protection systems. The piping includes Betts Wet-R-Dri valves. Betts also supplies domelids. Rough Rider valves also are installed on the Heil trailer.

Truck-Lite provides lighting systems for the Brenner and Heil trailers.

The insulated asphalt tank trailers have a capacity of 7,500 gallons and are supplied by Beall. Hardware includes Roper product pumps.

Jet fuel

The trailers currently dedicated to jet fuel typically have 8,500-gallon capacity and are supplied by Beall and Polar. On one of the trailers, mechanics mounted a 30-gallon stainless steel tank that holds Prist icing inhibitor that can be injected into the fuel as it is unloaded. A Hammonds injector releases the required amount of additive into the jet fuel. The additive is stored on site in a 330-gallon tote.

As for the newest tractors in the fleet, the carrier chose Freightliners with Detroit Diesel Series 60 engines rated at 445-horsepower and Eaton 10-speed transmissions. Shreiner recently took delivery of two new tractors and has eight on order for the remainder of 2006.

Vehicle maintenance

Keeping the vehicles operating around the clock calls for two 24/7 shops, one in Phoenix and the other in Tucson. They handle all tank trailer maintenance and repairs, with the exception of vessel welding. They also provide tractor service.

In Las Vegas, TCI Leasing provides full-maintenance tractors used in that area. The rest of the fleet is company-owned.

“We prefer having the leased tractors in Las Vegas because it kept us from having to add a shop and mechanics there,” Shreiner says.

With the operations in Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, and Las Vegas in force, new equipment coming into the fleet, and the experience of handling sensitive fuels, DRPT is ready to step up to the expected demands for handling ULSD, as well as a growing market for other petroleum products.

About the Author

Mary Davis