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UBCR Reduces Fuel Costs 37% by Adopting CNG

Fleet Manager Spotlight: Chris Milani, Vice President of Operations and Logistics, Schupan & Sons

UBCR, LLC (Used Beverage Container Recovery) based in Wixom, Michigan, is a third-party logistics provider for the Michigan Soft Drink Association and the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. When empty beverage containers are returned to Michigan retailers for the 10-cent deposit, chances are the container ends up in a UBCR trailer and is returned to a Schupan & Sons recycling facility.

Keeping true to its sustainable principles, UBCR recently leased 16 Freightliner single-axle day cab tractors to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and built two refueling stations. The effort was spearheaded by transportation industry veteran Chris Milani, vice president of operations and logistics for Schupan & Sons, UBCR’s parent company, with strong support from Clean Energy CoalitionDTE Energy, and Ryder Leasing.

Milani was well aware of the potential fuel cost savings and emission reductions UBCR would achieve if the project was successful. Having worked extensively across North America in the heavy trucking industry, Milani has worked directly with fleets on the east coast that have turned to natural gas as a lower cost, lower emissions fuel when compared to diesel.

“At UBCR, the application was a good match for CNG,” Milani said. “We always work toward driving cost from the transportation and processing elements of the operation and are committed to sustaining a long-term and highly valued relationship with our clients. We consistently assume a long view on our rolling stock assets. Our decision to convert the entire fleet to natural gas was based on sound economic, environmental and efficient operating expectations.”

Milani also believes that drivers are instrumental in the long term success of the program. “Initially, we experienced significant start-up issues related to compressor carryover oil intrusion. With the strength and dedication of the UBCR drivers and their Support Services team, we were able to work through the challenges. Our project partners never wavered and did an excellent job of shepherding the team down a rough stretch of road. As we exit our problems, our experience and collective solutions during the start-up phase should make it easier for other fleets considering the advantages of deploying CNG power in their operations.”

UBCR natural gas vehicles currently operate throughout lower Michigan. The vehicles traveled 1,424,263 miles, or approximately 89,000 miles per vehicle, in 2012 and have a fuel efficiency of 5.4 miles per diesel gallon equivalent of CNG. Annual project outcomes include:

  • 37% reduction in fuel costs
  • 285,698 gallons of diesel displaced
  • 29% reduction in GHG emissions, or 1,182 tons

To learn more about UBCR’s fleet, watch this YouTube video.