Biodiesel Driving Business to National Fleet

The sustainability trend has swept across the transportation and fuel industries in recent years. Biodiesel has helped G&D Integrated, a for-hire carrier, meet its own environmental goals and win business. 

Helping the Environment and Profits

G&D Integrated has found that sustainability is not only about its own goals, but also what it can do to meet its customers’ goals to be environmentally friendly.

“We’ve noticed that there are more and more customers asking us to participate in their sustainability efforts,” says Vince Buonassi, group manager of transportation programs at the for-hire carrier. “We’ve actually been awarded freight based on our biodiesel usage.”

Those customers are found worldwide and do business in heavy equipment manufacturing and parts fulfillment, agricultural machinery, automotive parts and components, food containers and food packaging.

Located in central Illinois, G&D Integrated’s services include transportation, warehousing, and distribution and logistics. On the transportation side, it offers point-to-point hauling, dedicated contract carriage, ocean container drayage and freight brokerage.

Its fleet of 430 vehicles travels up to 26 million miles annually. The diesel-powered units run year-round on a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel, which is known as B20.

Biodiesel has been key not only in the company’s sustainability efforts but also in growing its business. For instance, biodiesel usage is showing up in some RFPs and, Buonassi says, has been “directly related” to the company winning bids. It also has helped G&D Integrated strengthen its relationship with East Coast ports that want to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Many of our customers analyze their entire supply chain for environmental impact, and some have even gone as far as incorporating sustainability into their purchasing departments,” he says.

Significant carbon reduction

The reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from G&D’s use of biodiesel is equal to nearly 230,000 fewer gallons of gasoline consumed each year. Particulate matter is reduced by 2,854 pounds annually. The numbers come from the B20 Club, a program from the Illinois Soybean Association and the American Lung Association.

“We’re talking a material difference here,” Buonassi says.

G&D Integrated started using biodiesel several years ago after its fuel supplier, Ag-Land FS Inc., introduced the company to the fuel.

“They were claiming that this product would not only cost us less money but also would not result in any efficiency losses,” Buonassi says.

He has found that to be true and says biodiesel has not caused G&D Integrated to increase its rates.

Fuel that performs

G&D Integrated started with a B11 blend before quickly moving up to B20. Each time, it rigorously tested the fuel.

“What we observed was there was absolutely zero degradation in performance,” Buonassi says.

In fact, biodiesel added lubricity. It has also performed well in cold weather. Buonassi credits partnering with a quality vendor like Ag-Land FS to getting a good product. The fuel comes from REG.

“A company like REG has production facilities that make top-of-the-line, quality-controlled biodiesel,” he says. “And they’re sourcing different forms of feedstock that go through testing before being converted to the end product.”

It’s an end product that Buonassi credits with helping G&D Integrated stay ahead of the curve.

“There’s really no sense in fighting the tide of sustainability,” he says. “A lot of other truck carriers will. At G&D, we feel it's our duty to be good environmental custodians, and it makes business sense for us.”

The Bottom Line

Environment

G&D Integrated's biodiesel use reduces:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of 230,000 gallons of gasoline annually
  • More than 2,800 pounds of particulate matter

Performance

No drop in fleet performance compared with petroleum diesel.
Uses up to a B20 blend in cold weather.

Business

G&D Integrated has been awarded business because of biodiesel use.

Watch: G&D Integrated Explains Biodiesel Benefits

Before G&D Integrated fully embraced biodiesel, it extensively tested how it's fleet performed. See the results.

Up And Running With Biodiesel

BIODIESEL GIVES TOW TRUCK COMPANY THE PERFORMANCE IT NEEDS FOR COMPLICATED JOBS AT A PRICE THAT HELPS ITS BOTTOM LINE.

Central Iowa Towing

 

There’s nothing simple about being a tow truck driver at Central Iowa Towing & Recovery. Not when your job involves calculating the load limits, resistance and angle of approach needed to safely pull a big rig out of an interstate ditch.

There’s also nothing simple about operating a 62,000-pound tow truck while pulling a vehicle that weighs 80,000 pounds. That’s 142,000 pounds rolling down the road.

What Dustin Tapp, owner of the Ames-based company, does want to keep simple is his fuel. He wants fuel that is readily available, is cost-effective and performs well.

He’s found all of that in biodiesel.

“I’ve experienced the cost of my overhead going down with biodiesel. The cost of what appears to be emissions-caused breakdowns going down. We’re not losing any fuel mileage. And it’s a less expensive fuel,” Tapp says. “That should be enough to sell anyone. Lowering your costs while keeping your income the same? Makes sense to me.”

 

FUEL THAT PERFORMS

Tapp started Central Iowa Towing & Recovery in 2014 as the sole employee with one truck and operating out of an old farm shop. He’s grown it into a business with three locations, over 35 employees and nearly 50 trucks ranging from light to heavy-duty that operate throughout the contiguous United States.

The company does plenty of traditional tow jobs, but it’s really made a name for itself with its ability to tow heavy-duty trucks. In addition to responding to accidents and breakdowns, this includes transporting tractors across the nation on behalf of trucking companies.

“Our trucks are emergency response units to a degree,” Tapp says. “They can get called out at any given time, in any given temperature, in any given condition. We can’t afford to put just any fuel in them or do anything else that would negatively affect our performance.”

Until 2018, the fleet ran on No. 2 ULSD. Then Tapp gave biodiesel a try after hearing about the renewable fuel’s performance and financial benefits. Now the fleet typically runs on B11, meaning the fuel is 11 percent biodiesel and 89 percent petroleum diesel.

“Making the switch was simple,” Tapp says. “We used our same storage tanks and changed the filters out. The vehicles didn’t notice a difference, and our fuel mileage is where it’s always been.”

If anything, they’ve noticed performance advantages with biodiesel, including no fuel injector issues since switching. Biodiesel provides the lubricity needed to protect components like injectors, which ULSD doesn’t do.

“We put over 100,000 miles a year on some of the trucks, and they need the power to run themselves and also tow a large truck. Biodiesel has given us what we need,” Tapp says. “On top of all that, it has been a more cost-effective option for us.”

 

‘EVERYTHING IS VERY SMOOTH’

Renewable Energy Group produces the biodiesel and, through its fuel service in Iowa, delivers a blended product to Central Iowa Towing & Recovery’s fuel tanks.

“Fuel quality is great. Service is great. Delivery is fast. Accounting, billing — everything is very smooth,” Tapp says.

Smooth is also a good way to describe his experience with biodiesel.

“Fleet performance is extremely important,” Tapp says. “The performance of our fuel, the performance of our trucks cannot suffer from anything, and we’ve had good luck with biodiesel.”



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