Monarch Beverage commits to major CNG fleet conversion
Fred Dufour, senior vice president for Indiana’s largest beer and wine distributor, Monarch Beverage, expects to have 85 percent of his company’s diesel fleet converted to CNG by 2015.
While the move to green energy reduces his company’s carbon footprint, it also saves another kind of green.
“…That translates to a two to three million dollar savings in fuel per year,” he says. “Two years ago we purchased two Kenworth T440s with the Cummins Westport ISL G engine, and a pre-production Kenworth T660 with the new 12-liter Cummins ISX12 G engine.”
Dufour says his company did not receive any grants or subsidies in the move, but quickly began to see the dividends.
“We ran the trucks hard, on long-haul and regional routes, amassing more than 100,000 miles on each,” he says. “Our fuel economy was 5.7 mpg (diesel gallon equivalent) compared to 6.2 with our diesel fleet. Since the CNG cost was just 30 percent that of diesel, the money we saved on fuel was substantial. We figured the payback for the up-cost on CNG equipment to be 2.3 years.”
Since June of last year, Monarch Beverage has been running 27 T440s.
“And, other than having spark ignition and spark plugs to deal with, and a different kind of engine oil, there really is no difference in maintenance practices,” he says. “From a fuel tank standpoint, they just need to be monitored and maintained, but our technicians have been trained and certified for that duty.”
As for a maintenance advantage, Dufour said there is also less to worry about with CNG. “There are positive trade-offs. With CNG we don’t have to worry about DEF and particulate filters since CNG is so clean burning.”
Monarch’s 325-horsepower, 8.9-liter ISL G engines mostly handle loads under 65,000 pounds GVW.
“The new 400-horsepower, 12-liter ISX12 G engines on order for new Kenworth T800s will power our over-the-road fleet where we load out at 79,000 GVW,” he says.
To support the CNG transformation, the company is building its own CNG fueling station with two islands in the Indianapolis area. Scheduled to open next month, the ‘fast fill’ station will deliver more than 11 gallons a minute, as compared to 12- to 15 gallons a minute for diesel.
“We have placed additional orders (with Kenworth of Indianapolis) for Kenworth T440s, and by 2015, 90 of our 105 trucks will be CNG-powered,” Dufour says. “The diesel-powered trucks we don’t replace with CNG run too few miles to warrant a CNG engine.”