Fuels Market News Magazine Spring 2021

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A look at the Biden Administration’s carbon-reduction goals

In the Lead:

Giant Eagle’s Joel Hirschboeck

Bulk Plants:

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30 Get Your Green On COVER STORY

Carbon reduction is the central focus of the Biden Administration energy policy.

36 Actionable Insights Set It But Don’t Forget It 38 A Q&A with ADD Systems.

The case for upgrading aging bulk plants: efficiency, flexibility and safety.

44 In the Lead 46

Open Ecosystems A Q&A with Dover.

Giant Eagle’s vice president of fuel talks EVs and managing fuel logistics.


FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 1

04 06 08 10 12

From the Editor Meet the FMN Editorial Council NACS News Fuels Institute Fueled for Thought

RETAILER OPERATIONS 14 Vaccination Station

Educate and incentivize employees to get inoculated against COVID-19.


16 H ow to Boost IBA Revenue With Extra Services

A new suite of options once considered “tunnel only” delivers the premium experience drivers seek.

18 C ash In on Spring Cleaning

Five simple and effective steps to create a clean and safe retail environment.


By 2040, the go-to fuel still will dominate the commercial truck fleet, and it’s getting cleaner.

22 T rucking Is Primed for Fuel

Technology Advances A look at ways to make the largely diesel fleet more fuel efficient.


FUEL MARKETERS 26 The Outlook for Cleaner Fuels in 2021

Biodiesel’s star is rising as efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions accelerate.

28 M odernizing Logistics

Digital tank monitoring increases transparency and promotes proactive decision-making.

52 56

Industry News Remember This?

26 2 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021


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The Frontier Days of Biodiesel Biodiesel has solid coverage in this issue and with good reason. It is one of the most established alternative fuels in the industry. But that was not always the case. Although I had previous knowledge of biodiesel, I first truly appreciated the product at some point in the early 2000s while I was an editor at NPN Magazine. Biodiesel was in its infancy, but on the verge of becoming a more mainstream product in the United States. On a business trip to visit key vendors to see what’s new, I stopped at a biodiesel facility somewhere in Ohio. Now, when I say “facility,” it was a far cry from the massive plants in today’s mature industry. This plant consisted of a small commercial building, with a half-dozen or so vertical processors and assorted piping and other support infrastructure. I cannot remember the fuel volume now, but it probably produced as much biodiesel in a month as a modern facility produces in a day (and that is likely being generous). Still, the experience was fascinating, and the product produced was intriguing. And the business model worked. This biodiesel operation was an outgrowth of a local grease collection company, which saw an opportunity to take a waste product and convert it into a functional fuel and additional profit center. Also memorable, one of my companions received a small sample bottle and was told it was so natural that he could taste the product if he wanted—I don’t recall if he did. This was shortly after the voluntary National Biodiesel Accreditation Program came into effect (BQ 9000), which combined the ASTM D6751 standard and a quality systems program 4 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

EDITORIAL Keith Reid Editor-in-Chief (847) 630-4760 kreid@fmnweb.com

Today, more than 125 biodiesel plants can produce up to 3 billion gallons of fuel. covering storage, sampling, testing, blending, shipping, distribution and fuel management practices. The 1990s were the Wild West era for the biodiesel industry, and irregular quality threatened the future of the product. I’m not sure if this facility was accredited or not, but as the years passed accreditation became functionally essential. Today, more than 125 biodiesel plants can produce up to 3 billion gallons of fuel, according to the National Biodiesel board. Small plants still exist and can be profitable with the right mix of low-cost feedstock and specific local market opportunities. If only I could remember the name of the operator of that small Ohio plant. It would be great to see if that operation is still turning waste grease into fuel and dollars.

Kim Stewart Editorial Director (703) 518-4279 kstewart@convenience.org Sara Counihan Managing Editor (703) 518-4278 scounihan@convenience.org CONTRIBUTORS Anton Albrand, Ezra Finkin, Nabill Huq, Steve Klein, Kris Oliver, Dr. Raj Shah, Roy Strasburger, Dr. Vikram Mittal, Mike G. Zahajko DESIGN Beyond Definition www.beyond-definition.com

ADVERTISING Ted Asprooth (847) 222-3006 tasprooth@convenience.org

PUBLISHING Erin Pressley Publisher (703) 518-4208 epressley@convenience.org Rose Johnson Audience Development and Production Manager (703) 518-4218 rjohnson@convenience.org Fuels Market News Magazine is published quarterly by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), Alexandria, Virginia, USA. Subscription Requests: circulation@fmnweb.com POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Fuels Market News Magazine, 1600 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314-2792 USA. Contents © 2021 by the National Association of Convenience Stores. Periodicals postage paid at Alexandria, VA, and additional mailing offices.

Keith Reid is the editor-in-chief of Fuels Market News. He can be reached at kreid@fmnweb.com.

1600 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA, 22314-2792





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uels Market News has established an Editorial Council to provide insights and ideas to help the FMN editorial team maintain the quality of our publications and to help us consider innovative developments for the brand. An Editorial Council member serves a one-year term (though council opportunities exist after a “gap year”). The council consists of four marketers/retailers and four suppliers/vendors. Here are the inaugural members:

RETAILER/MARKETER MEMBERS Brad Davis is the managing partner/owner of Chandler, Arizonabased Mobile Force Refueling (MFR), which provides turnkey mobile equipment and vehicle fuel and lube solutions for commercial customers. It operates 31 trucks equipped with state-of-the-art 6 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

measuring, tracking, billing and dispensing equipment. MFR provides on- and off-road diesel fuel, a full line of top-grade petroleum products, OEM-approved filtration products and an experienced staff to facilitate these operations. On-site fueling applications include all types of diesel-powered machines, such as water trucks, light towers, generators, forklifts, cranes, scissor lifts and compressors.

Brad Douglass is the CEO of Sherman, Texasbased Douglass Distributing, which distributes more than 130,000,000 gallons of fuel annually. Its Carrier Group operates 15 trucks that serve its own operations and provide a common carrier service. The company distributes propane for both residential and commercial customers. It offers mobile fueling for commercial customers and distributes a broad range of lubricants and DEF. Douglass Distributing operates a growing chain of convenience stores under the name Lone Star Food Stores and employs over 300 team members. FuelsMarketNews.com


Scott Minton is the business development director for Stillwater, Oklahoma-based OnCue, a growing innovator in the Oklahoma convenience store market. Since 1966, OnCue has expanded to more than 75 locations and employs over 1,200 people. In addition to offering Phillips 66 gasoline, the company has embraced CNG, 100% gas and E85 as an alternative domestic fuel and has partnered with OG&E to offer EV charging stations as an option for its customers.


Jared Scheeler is the founder/owner of The Hub, which has established itself as an upscale convenience chain with six locations operating in western North Dakota’s Bakken oil region. The foodservice offering focuses on quality and consistency and includes proprietary food items, such as Kolaches, HubWiches and fresh donuts, as well as offering a variety of healthy snack and meal options. The Hub features gasoline supplied by ExxonMobil, with locations designed to handle semi-trailers and other large vehicles. SUPPLIER/VENDOR MEMBERS Alan English is senior director, brand development and service station equipment marketing for Gilbarco Veeder-Root. Gilbarco Veeder-Root is a worldwide technology leader for FuelsMarketNews.com

retail and commercial fueling operations offering a broad range of integrated solutions from the forecourt to the convenience store and head office. For over 150 years, Gilbarco Veeder-Root has earned the trust of its customers by providing long-term partnership, uncompromising support and proven reliability. The company’s major product lines include fuel dispensers, nozzles, pump media, point-of-sale systems, payment systems, automatic tank gauges, submersible turbine pumps, fleet management systems and e-mobility solutions. Ed Kammerer is the director of marketing and global product strategy for OPW Retail Fueling. OPW Retail Fueling makes aboveground and below ground fuel-handling products for both conventional, vapor recovery and clean energy applications in the retail and commercial fuel markets. OPW Retail Fueling is part of OPW, an equipment manufacturer in the retail fueling, fluid-handling and carwash industries. OPW has manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific, with sales offices around the world. OPW is part of Dover Corporation. Regina A. Balistreri is the director of marketing for ADD Systems. Flanders, New Jersey-based ADD Systems provides comprehensive

The council consists of four marketers/ retailers and four suppliers/vendors. back-office, home-office and mobile software solutions that continuously evolve with the petroleum and convenience store industries. Its solutions deliver automation and actionable information, helping clients save time, make informed decisions, improve margins and focus on growth and customer experience. Designed for both focused and diversified companies, ADD has been helping clients grow for more than 47 years. Missy Stearns is the marketing manager for Portland, Oregonbased Northwest Pump. Employeeowned equipment distributor Northwest Pump is a leading petroleum equipment distributor with 17 branches located in Alaska to Hawaii and throughout the Western states. Northwest Pump offers top quality products from leading companies, decades of experience—in business since 1959—and extraordinary customer service. Its petroleum division also offers a variety of factory-certified training in conjunction with its leading product partners. FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 7

EV Council Report Looks at Charging Infrastructure Policies

The EV market is fast evolving and so are related government policies regarding public charging infrastructure, incentives to encourage EV use and mandates for zero-emission vehicle mandates. The Fuels Institute Electric Vehicle Council commissioned a report to identify relevant public charging policies governing the installation and operation of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), their commonalities and differences, as well as policies that may be best suited to facilitate the installation and operation of EVSE. The analysis considered policies that: • Relate to the installation and operation of EVSE, including those related to siting, permitting and zoning associated with site preparation and equipment installation; • A ffect utility participation in preparing sites for installing and operating EVSE; and • Relate to the operation of public charging such as methods of sale, billing practices and marketing of charging services. The EV Market Regulatory Report: Analysis of the Regulations Affecting the Installation and Operation of EV Charging Equipment in the U.S. and Canada identifies primarily U.S. state and local regulations and 8 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

requirements relevant to installation and operation of public charging but also includes Canada. Thirty-four U.S. states have addressed issues related to the pricing of charging (allowing kilowatt hour (kWh) pricing), and 29 states have made clear in policy that charging site hosts are not public utilities subject to that industry’s regulatory regime. California is the only state that has set a range of different policies governing public charging, specifically addressing installation- and operation-related EVSE issues. Looking at incentives, 24 states offer incentives for expanding EV charging, which may be applicable to public charging. These incentives are in addition to what utilities offer and through the Volkswagen (VW) Clean Air Act Civil Settlement. A total of 34 states plan to use the full 15% allotment under the VW settlement, and several others do plan to fund charging, including public charging, but not at the full allocation. With respect to localities, 49 cities and counties have set ordinances or other regulations governing EVSE installation, 23 of which are in California. Except for the California localities, policies address aspects of installation such as parking or signage. Download the free report at www.fuelsinstitute.org. FuelsMarketNews.com


New Category Definitions

NACS has released the new NACS Category Definitions & Numbering Guide–Version 8.0 that reflects current market conditions. The new category definitions take effect in 2022 and mark the first major update since 2010. Category definitions provide a common language for retailers, suppliers and manufacturers to establish a framework for discussions about benchmarking and market performance at the store level. Version 8.0, developed by the NACS Research & Technology Committee, significantly updates the last broad iteration, Version 7.0, and the more minor updates in Version 7.2 in 2014. NACS released its first guide, the Category Definitions & Numbering Guide 1.0, in 1998. Since then, industry sales have grown from $186 billion to $648 billion, and pretax profits have experienced a similar growth curve. Common category definitions are the building blocks that help convenience retailers develop marketing strategies and category management plans. These common category definitions are a key part of the CSX database, the dynamic, self-reported subscription database that serves the convenience and petroleum marketing industry and its stakeholders. The Category Definitions & Numbering Guide–Version 8.0 includes a mapping guideline to assist in product reclassification, when appropriate. In this latest iteration of the category definitions, descriptions are provided for all subcategories, and 11 new subcategories are identified. To review the new category definitions, visit www.convenience.org/ catagorydefinitions. For questions, please reach out to Jayme Gough, NACS research manager, at jgough@convenience.org. FuelsMarketNews.com

Data for Days

NACS State of the Industry Report® of 2020 Data will be available for purchase this June. Today’s dynamic convenience retail landscape requires agility and a balance of efficiency and effectiveness, which in turn can free up resources and fuel new growth. Success in retailing requires knowing where you must invest in technology and how to harness data to deliver targeted, personalized offerings and customer experiences—it’s essential to winning trips and edging out the competition. So, what’s next and how can you get there faster? For more than 50 years, the convenience and fuel retailing industry has relied on the NACS State of the Industry Report® to answer these questions. This report will help you: • Understand the “big picture” with data and analysis on economic, market and shopper dynamics • Maximize effectiveness and profitability with insider access to aggregate financial, operational and category data from more than 24,000 convenience stores across the United States • Benchmark against top performers in the industry and determine key drivers to their success Learn more at www.convenience.org/research. FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 9

Everybody Wants to Rule the World BY JOHN EICHBERGER


n general, the developed economies of the world are uniting in their pursuit of a lower carbon/carbon neutral/net zero carbon emissions transportation system. It is a laudable goal and one that deserves careful attention, commitment and coordinated action to reduce carbon emissions throughout the global market. Yet, at the end of 2020 there seemed to be a significant lack of coordination, especially when we consider the flurry of activity with regards to banning the sales of internal combustion engines (ICE) in the relatively near future. There is competition to be first to market, to take on the banner of leader in the pursuit of carbon reductions. As I was thinking about it, a familiar guitar riff began to play in the back of my head, released by a British band in 1985— Tears for Fears, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” The Fuels Institute’s own assessments of market turnover to new technology indicate that if historic patterns of vehicle purchase and retirement persist, combined with traditional consumer behavior relative to transitioning to substitute products, it will take decades for a new technology to make a significant dent in the overall vehicle fleet. For those who believe this pace of change is not fast enough, pursuing government programs to accelerate the transition is consistent with their objectives.

ICE BANS: A GLOBAL TREND The Fuels Institute’s recent report, “Impact of Transportation-Related Environmental Initiatives,” looks at a wide range of movements (37 total) either implemented or being considered globally to address emissions from the transport sector. Among these is a look at proposed or actual policies to ban the sale of ICEs. It is worth taking a quick look at the report. The following 15 nations have made some movement (announcement, legislation, executive action) toward phasing out ICEs by 2040 or sooner: Austria, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. This list is not insignificant—according to the statistical site Knoema.com, these 15 countries represented about 46% of all vehicle sales (light duty and commercial) in the world in 2019. However, China itself represented 28% of global sales, with the European countries representing about 18%. 10 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

In 2020, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the country’s proposed ICE ban would move to 2030 from 2040. In the U.S., California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced an executive order to ban the sale of new ICEs in his state effective 2035. Then in Canada, the Province of Quebec announced a ban on ICE sales effective 2035, following British Columbia, which in May 2019 set a 2040 target date. HOW WILL ICE BANS BE IMPLEMENTED? Without diving into the specifics of any of these plans, they all raise a few questions for me: • Will the vehicle manufacturing industry be able to shift production streams to satisfy the demands of these regions for new zero-emission vehicles? If not, what must change to satisfy these objectives? • Will charging or hydrogen refueling infrastructure expand at a rate sufficient to satisfy consumer demand for transportation energy? What should regulators be considering to facilitate the necessary expansion? • Are the electricity generation and transmission systems prepared for the additional demand? If not, what adjustments must be made between now and then to ensure reliable, affordable power is available to drivers? What might be the impact on lower-income and/or disadvantaged communities? • Will consumers embrace the change? How might governments address potential consumer concerns or encourage support for the new direction? • For regions within a country where migration between regions is easy, how will the policies address the desire of residents to register a vehicle purchased in another state or province? The Fuels Institute will be convening a task group of stakeholders to explore FuelsMarketNews.com

Share of Vehicle Sales in ICE Ban Nations Austria Denmark France Germany Iceland India Ireland Netherlands

Will consumers embrace the phasing out of internal combustion engines?

Norway Slovania Spain Sweden UK China Markets w/o ICE Ban


the issues in more depth and develop a collaborative set of questions that should be at the forefront of consideration when these programs are officially developed. Hopefully, by providing such perspective, the interests of consumers and market participants can be effectively reflected in the implementation strategies. In addition, the Institute’s Electric Vehicle Council began working earlier this year and will soon be publishing several resources to help the market better understand the various factors that affect charger deployment. I believe that the entire life cycle of the transportation mode being advanced must be fully understood and addressed. I keep seeing a headline pop up in my Google news feed about the CEO of Polestar saying that electric vehicles are not necessarily clean, and there is more work to be done. Clearly, electric vehicles are a very important part of the long-term strategy, but reducing emissions from FuelsMarketNews.com

transportation requires a holistic approach, addressing as many inputs into the system as possible—no one initiative will achieve the objectives of a carbon neutral market. I believe the true global leader in the effort to reduce transportation carbon emissions will be the one who puts all the pieces together and shows a long-term sustainable solution. Note: This is an abridged version of the article that appeared on the Fuels Institute blog, The Commute. Read the full version at www. fuelsinstitute.org/Resources/The-Commute/ Everybody-Wants-to-Rule-the-World. The Fuels Institute, founded by NACS in 2013, is a nonprofit research-oriented think tank that evaluates market issues related to vehicles and the fuels that power them, incorporating the perspective of diverse stakeholders to develop and publish peer-reviewed, comprehensive, fact-based research projects.

John Eichberger is executive director of The Fuels institute. For more information, visit www.fuelsinstitute.org.

FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 11


Biofuel Preparation

Readying fueling system equipment for evolving fuels is a work in progress. BY JOE O’BRIEN


awmakers have introduced legislation that, if passed, could establish a mechanism for the increased adoption of higher ethanol blends within the next five years. The bill seeks to, among other things, capitalize on higher octane to reduce carbon emissions by 30%. NACS Daily reports the bill will require model year 2024 and later light-duty vehicles “to run on higher octane fuel and carry a warranty that covers the use of up to 30% ethanol.” The bill would also seek to reduce the use of certain aromatics. If the bill becomes law, it signals a credible pathway for establishing higher ethanol blends as more mainstream products. With the 2015 federal underground storage tank regulations requiring all UST systems to be compatible with the regulated substances they store, and PEI estimating that 160,000 upcoming tank warranty expirations will spur tank replacements, fuel marketers need to ready their fueling system equipment for the compatibility needs of future fuels and understand how to meet regulatory requirements. 12 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

INCOMPATIBILITY IMPLICATIONS Since 1988, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has required UST systems to be compatible with the substances stored in them. However, not all fueling system equipment on the market, let alone currently in use, is compatible with biofuels. In fact, the EPA has reported that most older UST systems—and even some newer UST systems—are not fully compatible with biofuels and require modification before storing them. The EPA’s UST System Compatibility With Biofuels booklet reminds operators that while “generally, all new tanks and piping produced today are compatible with blends of up to 100% ethanol and biodiesel,” the same is not necessarily true for ancillary components. During the regulatory update session presented at the 2020 virtual PEI convention, the EPA stated that UST components can swell, shrink, dissolve or become brittle if they are incompatible with the substances they are storing. Not only can this degradation result in a release but it also reduces the service life of the equipment. With respect to ethanol blends, there is not a universal threshold for compatibility issues. Some materials are more sensitive at the lower end of the blend rate, while others are more sensitive at a higher blend rate. NOTIFICATION AND PROOF OF COMPATIBILITY As part of the 2015 federal UST requirements, UST owner operators must notify their UST implementing agency no less than 30 days prior to switching to regulated substances containing greater than 10% ethanol, greater than 20% biodiesel or any other regulated substance required by the FuelsMarketNews.com

implementing agency. Although the federal UST regulations set the bar for biofuel compatibility requirements, UST systems in states with state program approval may face stricter regulations. Verify requirements with your implementing agency. Additionally, owner/operators need to show proof of equipment compatibility for certain components that interact with substances containing greater than 10% ethanol or 20% biodiesel, or use an alternative approach to demonstrating compatibility that is approved by the implementing agency. The 2015 regulations require owner/ operators to demonstrate that the following components are compatible: • Storage tank • Piping • Containment sumps • Pumping equipment • Release detection equipment • Spill prevention equipment • O verfill prevention equipment The compatibility document needs to state the range of blend that the equipment is compatible with. The EPA has also cautioned in training programs that although a UL listing may exist for a UST component, operators need to make sure the listing or standard specifically states that it is approved for the biofuel being stored. To help UST operators access information about compatibility capabilities, the EPA and UL collaborated to create a UL Fuel Compatibility Tool. Access it at www.ul.com/resources/apps/ ul-fuel-compatibility-tool. Additionally, it is worth noting two things. First, although dispensers are not regulated for compatibility under the federal UST regulations, they still face compatibility concerns and in FuelsMarketNews.com

fact may need to meet other regulations, such as the fire code. Second, operators need to keep compatibility records for as long as the biofuel is stored in the system. WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS In addition to the bill that supports higher octane fuels, other future government initiatives will influence what fuels are sold in the next five to 10 years. For instance, the EPA recently announced a proposed rulemaking that, if adopted, would make it easier for marketers to distribute E15. With the expansion of higher ethanol blends a plausible eventuality, and other additives like isobutanol already being approved for blending, fuels are not only currently evolving but will continue to evolve. In conjunction with this evolution, manufacturers are introducing new products that are specifically engineered to be compatible with biofuels. For example, new submersible pump designs feature a protective coating that prevents corrosion, and stainless steel ball valves (as opposed to brass) in sump piping are proving to be a better choice for diesel and higher ethanol blends. It is more incumbent upon UST owner/operators than ever before to work with their equipment suppliers and contractors to ensure their new equipment purchases will reliably handle future fuels. A trusted equipment supplier will explain potential hidden costs and longevity concerns that less expensive fueling system equipment options may yield. To that end, Source North America is helping educate operators about biofuel UST equipment at its Source University training center. Visit www.sourcena.com to learn more.

The EPA has reported that most older UST systems—and even some newer UST systems—are not fully compatible with biofuels and require modification before storing them.

Joe O’Brien is vice president of marketing at Source™ North America Corporation. He has more than 20 years of experience in the petroleum equipment fuel industry. Contact him at jobrien@sourcena.com.

FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 13


Vaccination Station Educate and incentivize employees to get inoculated against COVID-19. BY ROY STRASBURGER


ne of my more distinct memories as a child is going to the doctor to get a shot. As I was perched upon the table with my legs dangling, the nurse took my upper arm, pinched a significant amount of skin and jabbed a needle into it. During what seemed like 20 minutes of her emptying the syringe into my arm, I thought about how amazing it was that someone was injecting a liquid into my body—a substance designed to help me and keep me safe. As I am writing this, I am looking forward to reliving that experience and receiving my COVID-19 vaccine shots. Our challenge, for the immediate future, 14 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

is to get everyone on the StrasGlobal team vaccinated against the virus. We firmly believe that a successful and extensive vaccine program is necessary for the health and safety of our team, the protection of our customers and helping the country get back to a semi-normal basis. The more people who are vaccinated, the closer we get to what is known as “herd immunity” which will slow, if not eradicate, the spread of the COVID-19 virus. At StrasGlobal we decided not to require that everyone receive the vaccine. We believe that our team members need to make their own decisions, so we have put together a program to strongly

encourage participation in the vaccination effort. Having said that, we will respect the decisions of our team members and provide options for those who have medical conditions or religious beliefs that prevent them from getting the injections. The focus of our vaccination program is to combine education with incentives. We have spent a lot of time researching the vaccines, the possible side effects associated with them and the benefits of being vaccinated. We are sharing this information with our team members through emails, newsletters, printed material sent to our stores and one-on-one conversations with our field supervision and training teams. All of the material we are sending out is provided by reliable and trusted institutions. Education is only part of the solution. We have developed an incentive plan to encourage team members to get their vaccines. We reward each team member FuelsMarketNews.com



with $50 for a completed vaccination regime (if it is a two-dose treatment, we will pay $25 per dose), we provide each employee with two hours paid time off to get each shot if their appointment is during their scheduled work time, and we reimburse team members for any out-of-pocket money spent on administrative fees charged by the vaccine provider. Once the team member has received the vaccine, we provide them with a badge that becomes part of their required store uniform showing that they have been vaccinated. This tells our customers that we are taking the vaccine seriously and reassures them that our store is a safe place to shop. We are placing signs in our stores stating that “we strongly encourage our employees to be vaccinated.” It is all about building a level of trust and confidence between our customers and our company. During the vaccination process, we are gathering information (within HIPAA requirements) from our team members about when they get the vaccine, if they have any side effects and how much it cost them. This will allow us to monitor our staff participation rate and track whether the vaccine has an impact on our staff or operations due to missed sick days. In addition to encouraging our staff to be vaccinated, we rolled out a wider program to encourage community participation in the vaccine program. This includes giving vaccinated team members several coupons to share with their household members that FuelsMarketNews.com

they can bring in for a free drink or a discounted product if they show proof of being vaccinated. We are also running promotions within the store to reward people who show us that they have been vaccinated. It is also important to remind our team members that, just because they received the vaccine, they are not immune from COVID-19, and the vaccine will not stop them from transmitting the virus to someone else. We must keep all our PPE and health protocols in place—wear a mask, wash hands frequently, keep social distancing and frequently clean all work surfaces. We do this to protect each other, our families and our customers. We understand that getting the vaccine is just part of the longer journey to end the pandemic, and we know that we may have to keep this program in place for months, if not years. Our challenge is to stay focused and consistent with our program because we, as a community, have so much riding on the success of the vaccination program. As we did with our COVID-19 Response Plan, we are making our Vaccination Plan available to anyone who would like to have it. It is part of our Resources for Retailers (“RfR”) information library, which can be found at www.StrasGlobal.com. It is free to download, copy and use, and we encourage you to send it to someone you know who may need information or guidance on how to handle the vaccination process. Get vaccinated and stay safe.

We firmly believe that a successful and extensive vaccine program is necessary for the health and safety of our team, the protection of our customers and helping the country get back to a semi-normal basis.

Roy Strasburger is the president of StrasGlobal. For 35 years StrasGlobal has been the choice of global oil brands, distressed assets managers, real-estate lenders and private investors seeking a complete, turnkey retail management solution.

FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 15


How to Boost IBA Revenue With Extra Services A new suite of options once considered “tunnel only” deliver the premium experience drivers seek. BY KRIS OLIVER


arly signs indicate that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was less than might have been expected for the U.S. vehicle wash industry. Preliminary figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show a decline in vehicle use last year, but according to a market survey by the International Carwash Association, the industry was in a position of strength as it entered 2020, with more than two billion vehicles washed in 2019. This assertion that vehicle washing did not become an afterthought in 2020 is buttressed by informal feedback from vehicle wash distributors that shows that chemical sales, along with the number of washes, remained 16 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

strong in 2020. This is surprisingly good news at a time when so many other industries are struggling. There are several revenue strategies and new service offering opportunities for operators of vehicle wash locations that feature touchless or soft-touch in-bay automatic (IBA) wash systems as we head into 2021. These apply to both traditional standalone operations and retail fueling/ convenience store sites. One of the key benefits of IBAs is that they require a smaller physical footprint compared to traditional tunnel systems and are less expensive to operate, mainly because they do not require a dedicated staff to facilitate the wash process. Many drivers prefer

touchless/soft-touch IBAs because of their gentle handling of the vehicle. Drivers also appreciate the many wash options that can be made available, creating a wash menu that ranges from the most basic to a top-of-theline experience. With so many ancillary wash services now available, IBA operators must develop a strategic plan when constructing their wash packages and pricing structure, one that optimizes the effects of the ancillary offerings. Specifically, an a la carte-type pricing menu does not always make sense. For example, if you call something a “premium” wash and charge $13 for it, does it make sense to ask the driver for an additional $3 for a high-gloss finish or targeted tire treatment? Does that make the upgraded wash “super premium”? Instead, we are seeing more operators raise the price of a premium wash, while offering the full suite of services with no optional add-on costs. This is a good approach to take because more and more drivers are using credit cards to pay for their washes, which just involves insertion or a simple swipe through a card reader, not digging FuelsMarketNews.com


through a wallet or purse to see if they have the exact amount of cash on hand to pay for the service. In terms of specific additional services that can be a boon to generating ancillary revenue, three stand out, all of which have been used by the operators of tunnel washes for some years, but can be easily adapted for use in IBA systems: Ceramic Coating: This is a newer technology that has gained popularity in the tunnel market and is now available to IBA operators. In the ceramic coating application, a low pressure layer of “ceramic” chemical is applied to the vehicle via the wash’s spray arms, with the result being a smooth high-gloss finish on every vehicle surface, including paint, trim and glass. IBA operators that have begun offering ceramic finishes are seeing that drivers are willing to pay $2 to $3 more for this option. High-Gloss Finishes: Systems that drape the vehicle in a thick sheet of multi-colored high-gloss wax, while strategically placed LED lights flash on and off during the wash process, comprise the “lava and lights” experience that so many drivers and their passengers find appealing. The result is a wash experience that keeps the customer engaged in the process, while simultaneously ensuring that the vehicle emerges from the wash bay with a clean, high-gloss finish. Tire Treatments: This service is quite common in conveyorized tunnel systems, but advances in the way that the tire treatment equipment FuelsMarketNews.com

is deployed can now make this a profitable additional service for IBA operators. There are currently two notable options for wash operators: oH igh-pressure wheel “blasters” featuring a pair of stacked spinners on each side of the wash bay that are equipped with zero-degree nozzles that wash the tires at multiple angles; o Advanced tire-shine equipment allows the extension of the application brushes to meet the vehicle’s tires. This has made available a lucrative tunnel-only extra service to in-bay operators, who can now leverage an extra service for which customers have shown a willingness to pay a premium. More than ever, drivers want value when they wash their vehicles. At the same time, they are looking for more than a “basic” wash—even, it appears, during the height of a global pandemic that has forced many people to modify their usual driving habits. While drivers are willing to pay more for a “premium” wash, they will only continue to do so if the additional services they receive are deemed to be worth the added cost, even long after they have left the wash bay. To that end, there is now a new suite of extra service options—many of which were once considered “tunnel only”—available to IBA wash operators. If properly deployed, these services can lead to more satisfied customers and a significant boost to the wash operation’s revenue stream and bottom line.

With so many ancillary wash services now available, IBA operators must develop a strategic plan when constructing their wash packages and pricing structure.

Kris Oliver is the Eastern region and key accounts manager for OPW Vehicle Wash Solutions and can be reached at kris. oliver@opwvws.com. For more information on OPW Vehicle Wash Solutions, please visit opwvws.com.

FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 17


Cash In on Spring Cleaning Five simple and effective steps can create a clean and safe retail environment. BY MIKE G. ZAHAJKO


etail leaders predict that COVID-19 will have the biggest impact on their business in 2021, and the need for safety and cleanliness remains a top priority for convenience customers. A Harris Interactive poll of more than 1,000 people found that 94% of those who regularly visit a c-store would avoid a business if it appeared dirty. How would your business be impacted if customers knew that according to a study of germs in public places by Kimberly Clark, gas pump handles were identified as the “germiest” public surface? In the study, 71% of gas pump handles were tested to have “highly contaminated” levels of microbes associated with illness and disease. While social distancing and masking up have become the new norm, customers have also come to expect 18 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

frequent surface disinfection and protection. In the recently released 2021 Retail Industry Outlook: The New Rules of Retail, Deloitte highlights health and safety as a top priority for customers and employees. Worse yet, it is not just word of mouth that store owners must be concerned with these days—social media has upped the stakes as consumers share their experiences, good or bad, without a moment’s hesitation. This leaves store owners at the mercy of thousands of reviews, and that will adversely impact their business. Top reviewed aspects of the customer experience include customer service, safety and cleanliness. FIVE STEPS TO SPRING CLEANING Spring cleaning presents the perfect opportunity to focus on the cleanliness and safety of your store. Below are five

simple and effective steps to create a clean and safe retail environment: Step 1: Establish and Communicate Your Cleaning and Safety Standard. The world is full of a lot of unknowns right now, causing widespread fear and apprehension. Providing clear standards increases confidence and reassures employees and customers that extra precautions and steps are being taken to ensure their safety. While trash or oil stains in the forecourt are not COVID-19 focus areas, a clean store is a safe store from a customer’s perspective. The general cleanliness and appearance have a big impact on the level of safety felt. Step 2: Create a Cleaning Schedule. The simplest way to implement and stick to a cleaning plan is to create a schedule. First, determine all the surfaces—indoors and outdoors— that need to be cleaned, disinfected and protected. Then, categorize them into hourly, daily, weekly or monthly tasks. Given the current circumstances, most tasks will be carried out hourly and daily, such as: • Fuel nozzles, touch screens, monitors and keypads FuelsMarketNews.com



• Countertops such as checkout and self-serve areas • Hand sanitizing stations • Bathrooms, doorknobs, cooler doors • Soaps, paper products and squeegee stations Build your own or download a free poster at www.mycaf.com/pdf/ Forecourt-Cleaning-Disinfecting-Guide. pdf and hourly checklist at www.mycaf. com/pdf/CAF-Clean-and-DisinfectDaily-Checklist.pdf. Step 3: Clean, Disinfect and Protect. To keep surfaces free from contagious diseases, high-touch surfaces should be cleaned, disinfected and protected. Cleaning: Removes surface-level dirt and germs and lowers the risk of spreading infection but does not kill bacteria entirely. Disinfecting: This includes the use of chemicals to reduce pathogens to safe levels. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends cleaning and then disinfecting to kill germs and further reduce the risk of an infection spreading. When disinfecting, read product labels for important details such as required contact time and safety. Certain products like bleach can cause a dangerous chemical reaction if mixed with other cleaners. Protecting: A new line of defense available for retailers includes solutions that provide long-lasting surface protection by turning existing surfaces into antimicrobial touchpoints. These EPA-registered products can be applied by store personnel and will destroy 99.9% of microbes that contact the protected surface for up to 30 days in one application. Step 4: Implement Employee Training. COVID-19 and social distancing restrictions have impacted FuelsMarketNews.com

employee training, making it more difficult. High employee turnover makes training critical. Implement a cleaning program with comprehensive training to ensure site standards. Effective training also lowers the highest cost of cleaning: labor. Employee labor typically accounts for 80% of the cost of cleaning. Use online training, digital and collateral instructions and video conferencing for best results. Step 5: Monitor Performance. Setting this into motion isn’t enough to create sustainable change at your stores. If you want enduring results, you need to “inspect what you expect.” Peter Drucker said it best, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Leverage customer feedback, mystery shops, leadership audits and process compliance to measure cleanliness. PRIORITIZE CLEANING The importance of site cleanliness and standards is not new. In fact, you probably already have a backroom closet full of products and hours of labor each week dedicated to cleaning. The challenge is that the day-to-day standards are not consistent from site to site. Further, the customer experience in the forecourt fails to match the expectations for inside the store. Two keys to success: 1. Make cleaning a priority. 2. G et a cleaning partner with products, training and ongoing management support. GasBuddy data from over nine million consumer visits found that “during Q3 2020, stations with above-average cleanliness ratings drove 21% more visits than their below-average competitors.” Cash in on spring cleaning by following the five steps above.

While trash or oil stains in the forecourt are not COVID-19 focus areas, a clean store is a safe store from a customer’s perspective.

Mike G. Zahajko is the executive vice president, sales, for CAF. CAF is a leader in outdoor cleaning and c-store image solutions. For more about CAF, visit www.mycaf.com.

FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 19


Diesel Power By 2040, the go-to fuel still will dominate the commercial truck fleet, and it’s getting cleaner. BY EZRA FINKIN


recent Trucks.com headline, “Daimler, Volvo Show Hydrogen Is Here, Diesel Has a Sell-By Date,” touts the new interest in hydrogen for heavy-duty commercial trucks from some leading manufacturers. Today, over 90% of commercial vehicles are powered by diesel technology. Fast forward 20 years from now, and trucks most likely will be powered by a diverse mix of fuels and technology. Some may be powered by hydrogen and fuel cells, some by battery-electric and some by operating on renewable natural gas or renewable diesel fuel. According to many sources, however, rather 20 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

than having a “sell-by” date, diesel will remain the dominant technology moving the nation’s freight for decades to come. A variety of analysts and researchers have explored the future trucking fleet composition, and by 2040 diesel is still at the top when it comes to the Class 8 truck fleet. • Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which traditionally publishes an upbeat forecast for electrified cars and trucks, estimates that only 19% of the heavy-duty commercial truck fleet in the U.S. will be electrified by 2040—meaning 81% of heavy-duty trucks will be powered mostly by

diesel and some natural gas. • IHS Markit estimates that 80% of commercial truck sales in the U.S. will be powered by diesel by 2040. • The Fuels Institute estimates that, under aggressive uptake of zero-emissions technology in commercial vehicles, diesel will make up 65% of heavy-duty truck sales and 86% of the fleet by 2040. • The International Council on Clean Transportation notes that there is only one manufacturer of a zero-emissions Class 7 and 8 truck available in the marketplace today, albeit with limited range, while others are still in pre-production phase. ICCT notes that heavy-duty zero-emissions trucks will overtake diesel in sales during the next two decades. Each of these forecasts makes considerable assumptions about the success of new technology in the FuelsMarketNews.com



commercial marketplace, the price and availability of both diesel and new alternative fuels and many other factors. In the meantime, progress in reducing emissions, fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from diesel technology continues, with new milestones set for the future—all good news for the climate and clean air. Much like passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles are subject to stringent fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards that have been phased in since 2014, and more-stringent rules take effect this year. Over the lifetime of these rules, more fuel-efficient trucks will have eliminated more than one billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions between 2014 and 2027 according to EPA’s Phase 1 and 2 rules. While there will be emerging zero-emissions trucks for sure, they will be in fractional percentages of the total fleet market, making most of the benefits delivered by trucks fueled by diesel. Much more efficient diesel trucks are already generating big fuel savings and climate benefits. According to Fleet Advantage, a business consultancy that measures real-world fuel economy, a new Class 8 tractor has a 15% fuel economy benefit over a similar 2016 model. This is a substantial benefit that translates directly to greenhouse gas emissions, and as more older diesel trucks are replaced with new ones, these benefits are expected to continue to grow. While truck, engine and component makers are working to achieve the next level of greenhouse gas emissions reductions and to reduce fuel consumption, they are also committed to FuelsMarketNews.com

reducing emissions from the current generation of diesel even closer to zero. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Cleaner Trucks Initiative is expected to establish new goals to further lower emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a smog-forming compound, along with other provisions in the coming years. Diesel trucks also have the capability of operating on advanced renewable biofuels that drive down greenhouse gas emissions, operating on high-quality blends of biodiesel or 100% renewable diesel fuel. These are fuels that have at least a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to petroleum. With renewable diesel fuel, GHG emissions are reduced by at least 80%. Many fleets are using the fuels today, and in response, a number of leading oil companies announced the planned retooling of petroleum refineries to produce new supplies of renewable diesel fuel. If planned capacity for the fuel equates to actual production, these facilities have the capability to displace all the petroleum diesel fuel consumed in California. Recent headlines on any new technologies—fuels, new model cars and trucks or consumer products in general—are eye-catching and interesting. Often, however, they leave out an important part of the story. In this case, that diesel technology will continue to dominate the industry and that it will have even nearer-to-zero emissions with lower GHG emissions, as well. These benefits will be vital in the next several decades before alternative fuel vehicle and infrastructure availability arrives at an impactful scale.

According to many sources, rather than having a “sell-by” date, diesel will remain the dominant technology moving the nation’s freight for decades to come.

Ezra Finkin is the policy director for the Diesel Technology Forum, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Diesel Technology Forum members are global leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment; cleaner diesel fuel; and emissions-control systems.

FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 21


Trucking Is Primed for Fuel Technology Advances A look at ways to make the largely diesel fleet more fuel efficient. BY DR. RAJ SHAH, DR. VIKRAM MITTAL AND NABILL HUQ


s the world continues to transition from nonrenewable and pollutive energy sources to ones that are sustainable and clean, it is critical to innovate across all aspects of our infrastructure and industries. The difficulty with transitioning to newer types of fuels is that the industries that primarily rely on older and dirty fuel types are usually stubborn to change, resulting in slow progress. The trucking industry, in particular, has been 22 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

slow to adapt its fuel technology, and it plays a monumental role in transporting goods and resources over roadways and employs the use of heavy-duty trucks (HDTs) for long-distance transportation. In the United States, the trucking industry was worth $791.7 billion, employing over 947,000 truck drivers in 2019. The size of the trucking industry means it consumes billions of gallons of fuel each year. Heavy-duty vehicles account for only 10% of the

global vehicle stock but are responsible for 46% of the total greenhouse gas emissions from road transport, according to The International Council on Clean Transportation. The adverse effects of these emissions are well established. In 2006, the environmental and health effects of the particulate matter of diesel exhaust were chronicled by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), prompting advancements in diesel fuel and stricter regulations on the emissions of diesel exhaust. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered petroleum refiners to reduce the sulfur content of highway diesel fuel from 500 parts per million (ppm) to 15 ppm, a 97% reduction, starting in June 2006. This cleaner-burning fuel helped to reduce smog-causing nitrogen oxide emissions by 2.6 million tons every year according to CARB. FuelsMarketNews.com



While other vehicles have made tremendous gains in fuel efficiency, the gains for diesel trucks have been much more modest. From 1966 to 2018, the fuel economy of medium- and heavyduty trucks only improved from 5.6 miles per gallon (mpg) to 7.5 to 9.5 mpg. Some additional gains have been realized through better vehicle aerodynamics; however, the long vehicle bodies necessitate a large amount of drag. New drivetrain technologies are showing increasing promise, especially related to hybrid systems. For example, the Shell Starship truck uses an electric hybrid system coupled with advanced aerodynamics to achieve 8.9 mpg. Larger gains can be achieved from a hydraulic hybrid truck, which can achieve fuel economies of more than 10 mpg. BIODIESEL Significant gains can be achieved through further innovation of fuel by developing diesel with a cleaner and renewable source of energy— biomass. The trucking industry has implemented this cleaner biodiesel by creating blends of it with traditional diesel. Biodiesel can be created from a multitude of different sources, such as soy and animal fat. The convenience with using biodiesel is that it can be used in both old and modern diesel engines without alterations, thus requiring little restructuring to current trucking infrastructure. Compared to traditional diesel, biodiesel based on soy and animal fat blends shows reductions in particulate matter, total hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions, with higher reduction in blends with a higher biodiesel component. The main disadvantage of using biodiesel is that less energy is stored in biodiesel when compared to equal amounts of traditional diesel, resulting in a lower range of travel for HDTs. FuelsMarketNews.com

The travel range of a truck is an important property for the trucking industry because of the long-distance nature of travel. For example, pure biodiesel (B100) will only travel 92.4% of the distance that an equal amount of pure traditional diesel (B0) can travel. Fortunately, this disadvantage is remedied by creating biodiesel blends that find a good balance of fuel efficiency and lowered emissions. Biodiesel blend B20 (6% to 20% biodiesel) is a common blend that only gives up 1% to 2% mileage per tank when compared to traditional diesel.

While other vehicles have made tremendous gains in fuel efficiency, the gains for diesel trucks have been much more modest.

RENEWABLE DIESEL Another recent development in diesel technology is renewable diesel, which has properties similar to biodiesel. Renewable diesel and biodiesel are both produced using biomass sources but differ in the method that they are processed. Chemically, renewable diesel is a hydrocarbon that is processed similarly to traditional diesel using techniques like hydrotreating, gasification and pyrolysis; meanwhile, biodiesel is a mono-alkyl ester produced via transesterification. Due to renewable diesel’s hydrogenated nature, it burns cleaner than biodiesel. Despite the benefits of renewable diesel, its viability in a competitive fuel market depends on regulations that favor cleaner fuels. The largest producer of renewable diesel, Neste, only sells renewable diesel in the U.S., where a low-carbon fuel standard is set in place, and the costs for the company are subsidized by the U.S. Blender Tax Credit. While biodiesel and renewable diesel technology provide a good compromise between performance and harmful emissions for HDTs, there is still a lot of fuel technology to explore to reach a zero-emission future. BATTERY-ELECTRICS One of the biggest contenders for transforming the trucking industry FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 23


If all short-haul diesel trucks were to be switched to hydrogen fuel trucks or batteryelectric trucks, 30% of all NOx emissions from the medium- and heavyduty truck sector would be eliminated.

24 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

to zero-emissions is battery-electric trucks. This has been made possible through the continuous advancements in lithium-ion technology driven by the commercial sector. The energy densities of modern lithium-ion batteries are two to three times that of rechargeable batteries from 20 years ago. Trucks powered purely by lithium-ion batteries have fewer moving components and systems to maintain when compared to diesel-powered engines. A promising example of an upcoming battery-electric truck is Tesla’s all-electric semi-truck. It has better performance in acceleration, with reportedly three to five times faster acceleration than the average diesel semi on a full load. In addition, Tesla’s semi-truck has better uphill hauling—it can maintain a speed of 60 miles per hour (mph) on a 5% uphill grade, while a diesel version can only go 45 mph under the same conditions. Despite these improvements, implementing battery-electric trucks into the trucking industry will require

massive investments in the restructuring of current infrastructure and still comes with a host of disadvantages. For one, recharging stations would have to be prevalent across the U.S. before battery-electric trucks can be feasible. Additionally, current battery-electric trucks cannot match the range of travel of diesel trucks. Tesla’s battery-electric semi-truck has a maximum range of approximately 500 miles, compared to the approximate 800-mile range of conventional trucks. Another disadvantage is the longer time associated with recharging the batteries versus refueling a tank of fuel. Batteries also are not expected to last the lifetime of the HDT itself, thus requiring replacements and increasing demand for raw materials such as lithium, cobalt and nickel. Like the automobile market, many of these disadvantages can be overcome by simply using battery-electric semi-trucks for short-haul transport, which accounts for about half of American trucking. FuelsMarketNews.com



HYDROGEN Like battery-electric trucks, hydrogen fuel cell trucks are driven purely through electric motors. The only substance that is emitted from the tailpipe is H2O, making this fuel very environmentally friendly. The convenience of using hydrogen fuel is that fueling up a tank is a similar process and takes a similar amount of time as diesel fueling. One company at the forefront of hydrogen fuel trucking, Nikola Motors, boasts a fueling time of fewer than 20 minutes for its hydrogen fuel semi-truck. Nikola Motors also touts traveling ranges from 500-750 miles on a full tank of fuel, making it comparable to diesel trucks. If all short-haul diesel trucks were to be switched into hydrogen fuel trucks or battery-electric trucks, 30% of all NOx emissions from the medium- and heavy-duty truck sector would be eliminated. Currently, this fuel technology is still in the developmental phase and has several challenges that must be addressed before it can be fully implemented into the trucking industry. The largest issue is related to storage, since hydrogen must be stored at high pressures and is extremely volatile. Compared to gasoline, liquid hydrogen fuel has 2.6 times more energy per unit mass but requires about four times the storage volume. These tanks must be either maintained at -253°C or pressurized to 5,000-10,000 psi. Getting away from traditional storage tanks, a promising technique for storage is related to metal hydrides, where the hydrogen is reversibly bonded in a metal matrix. Several challenges exist, especially as related to the weight and reversibility of the metal hydride. Another critical issue is that hydrogen trucks would require a new network FuelsMarketNews.com

of hydrogen fueling stations, which is a massive investment. Promisingly, Nikola Motors has committed to building a network of 700 truck-stop-sized hydrogen fueling stations across the U.S. and Canada by 2028. To achieve the zero-emission fuel goal, the method in which hydrogen fuel is produced must also be considered. Currently, the primary source of hydrogen is through the partial combustion of methane, a process that carries a large carbon footprint. Renewable-based hydrogen fuel technologies such as solar electrolysis will greatly increase the value of hydrogen-fuel trucks. Fortunately, hydrogen fuel cell-based trucks have garnered the attention of new startups and veteran companies alike, in which their investments will help grow and improve hydrogen fuel technology. The trucking industry has come a long way since its World War I roots. For a long time, the effects of the emissions coming from diesel trucks and other vehicles were unknown. It was only when these harmful exhausts were documented that real change came for fueling technology. Traditional diesel became much cleaner, and now the trucking industry has incorporated biodiesel and renewable diesel to lower its reliance on nonrenewable sources like petroleum. Futuristic fuel technologies like battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cells are slowly being incorporated into the trucking industry and becoming a current-day reality. The trajectory of the progress toward zero-emission trucking is encouraging. The continued investment to evolve our fueling infrastructure will be a slow but fruitful endeavor for the betterment of the health of ourselves and the environment.

Dr. Raj Shah is a director at Koehler Instrument Company, a leading manufacturer of petroleum testing instruments, and an active ASTM member for the past 25 years. He has held numerous leadership positions within various ASTM committees and is a three-time recipient of the ASTM award of Excellence. Contact him at rshah@koehlerinstrument.com.

Dr. Vikram Mittal is an assistant professor at the United States Military Academy in the Department of Systems Engineering. He earned his doctorate in Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he researched the relevancy of the octane number in modern engines.

Nabill Huq is a chemical engineering student at Stony Brook University, and he is also part of a thriving internship program at Koehler Instrument Company.

FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 25


The Outlook for Cleaner Fuels in 2021 Biodiesel’s star is rising as efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions accelerate. BY STEVE KLEIN


eflecting on the rollercoaster ride that was 2020, great strides were made in lowering emissions and advancing alternative fuel use, but we think the best is yet to come. Here are a few areas we have our eyes on for 2021. Trucks continue to transport about 70% of all goods in the U.S. Class 8 truck sales did take a dive earlier in 2020 because of COVID-19, but they bottomed out in May and have been on the rebound ever since. The long-haul market is largely expected to bounce back, and it is likely to rely on diesel 26 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

machines for years to come. As intriguing as electric vehicles are, they are not yet viable for most trucking applications, and our environment can’t wait for fleets to start reducing their emissions. That’s why the alternative fuel market will remain critical. Unfortunately, the driver shortage will continue to be an issue; the U.S. trucking industry faces a predicted shortfall of up to one million drivers by 2030. We’re so grateful to the drivers and shipping companies who have kept our world moving during the pandemic. It’s our hope that people

everywhere continue showing them appreciation and that the workload stabilizes so drivers feel more motivated to work in this rewarding career. Biodiesel’s star is rising. Using the CA-GREET model, Renewable Energy Group calculated the reductions in carbon intensity for our best-in-class biodiesel versus the following options: • 88% lower than ULSD • 85% lower than CNG • 65% lower than an EV charged by U.S. grid average electricity (2019) Biodiesel can make a big difference right away. And its performance will not be an issue either. One of the best things about biodiesel is that it requires no updates to infrastructure or equipment—biodiesel blends are drop-in fuels that make it easy to be part of the solution. Supply is also strong, with domestic production able to meet demand coast to coast. People are taking notice: Biodiesel has seen a 600% increase in consumption in the past 10 years. FuelsMarketNews.com



It’s getting used in new ways, too. Watch for new ways of using biodiesel as more fleets give it a chance. A trend we expect to continue is the exploration of higher blends. Many used to think of B20 (20% biodiesel, 80% ULSD) as the highest they would go, but now they’re going higher— even up to B100. In Washington, D.C., and our hometown of Ames, Iowa, B100 pilots are going well, even in cold temperatures. The added lubricity and higher cetane that biodiesel offers are definitely worth exploring. We are also gearing up for higher usage of blends that use biodiesel and renewable diesel together to get the best characteristics of both. This is an especially valuable product for those who want to run on renewable diesel but need to stretch their supply and/or lower costs. Greenhouse gas emissions will remain a hot topic. Transportation is the top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the U.S., so it is critical for fleets, fuel marketers, policymakers and even individual drivers to be aware of this trend. Discussion of low-carbon policies often centers around California because it has what many people consider one of the world’s foremost clean air programs. However, these types of policies are present across North America—and interest is only growing. It’s not only government laws and regulations—the private sector is a major driver of the sustainability trend, as well. Those in the sustainability sector have their eyes on the year 2030 because, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate FuelsMarketNews.com

Change, we must make “rapid, farreaching and unprecedented changes” to limit global warming by then, or the results could be irreversible. Each day that a fleet waits to switch to cleaner fuels, more harmful emissions enter the atmosphere. Switching now will have a cumulative effect and lead to greater reductions over time. Biodiesel is a great option because it significantly reduces several types of emissions compared with petroleum diesel: • Total hydrocarbons by nearly 70% • Particulate matter by nearly 50% • Carbon monoxide by nearly 50% The ESG movement is just getting started. Expect to see a continued rise in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. In just the first nine months of 2020, $19 billion was invested in ESG funds, compared with $8 billion for all of 2019, according to DWS Group in a CNBC interview. Some 90% of S&P 500 Index companies published sustainability reports last year, indicating that customers and the public really care what companies are doing to make a difference in climate change. We take this trend seriously as well, which is why we publish our own annual ESG report. As 2020 has shown us a few times, curveballs are bound to happen. But we remain optimistic about the alternative fuels market and the future of emissions reduction. These trends show we are on the right track—but also have work left to do. Here’s wishing you and yours a successful 2021.

As intriguing as electric vehicles are, they are not yet viable for most trucking applications, and our environment can’t wait for fleets to start reducing their emissions.

Steve Klein is senior manager, marketing, at Renewable Energy Group Inc. REG is leading the energy industry’s transition to sustainability by transforming renewable resources into high quality, cleaner fuels.

FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 27


Modernizing Logistics Digital tank monitoring increases transparency and promotes proactive decision-making. BY ANTON ALBRAND


o quote British economist and author Ronald Coase, “If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.” Analyzing data to turn information into decisions should be the goal behind every tank monitoring solution. Starting with one piece of data, it soon grows to gigabytes, terabytes of information and so on, and that ultimately translates into intelligence. Data collection through telemetry is at the core of the process, with the final desired outcome being a measurable return on investment that resonates throughout your entire operation. With the end goal of communicating the status of a tank or containers’ inventory level, the solution has two components—hardware and SaaS software, which collects and converts data into useable information.

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A sensor lies at the bottom of the tank that collects information, which measures the pressure, or the weight, of the liquid inside that tank. This data transmits via a cable up to the telemetry device, which is the communication layer that transmits the data from the sensor to a cloud-based software solution to your intended audience, usually the dispatcher. When tank monitoring is used to its maximum capacity, the process of monitoring assets brings tremendous benefit to an industry whose primary purpose is to store and then distribute products repeatedly. Tank monitoring offers greater visibility to the organizations responsible for serving customers in this industry. It offers intelligence and eliminates the hassle of manually measuring tank levels or guessing when a client will run out of a product.

Experts estimate that there are currently over 1.5 million IoT subscribers that collect information from powered or unpowered assets and report various data points. These endto-end cloud-based solutions consist of purpose-built hardware collecting and delivering data through modern software technology, geared toward customers that require the expert support and training necessary to use this data to make better decisions across the entire company. One of the most apparent reasons organizations choose to begin digitally monitoring tanks is to save money. The average delivery cost per tank can be as much as $75 per delivery. To deliver as much product as possible to maximize the cost per trip, it is important to know how much is already in the tank. For example, take a 250-gallon tank that is 40% empty and needs 100 gallons to top it off—it would incur a delivery cost of 75 cents per gallon. However, when delivering 188 gallons to that same tank that is 75% empty, the delivery cost would be 40 cents per gallon. The business just saved 35 cents per gallon. This cost savings is enormous, especially when delivering hundreds of thousands of gallons over a few months. By contrast, a lack of tank visibility means higher fuel consumption, increased driver labor, excessive truck repairs, the need for more trucks, additional customer invoices and truck depreciation. Tank monitoring promotes dynamic decision-making, allowing companies to start proactively looking at servicing their customers in a much more efficient way. For dispatchers, this is extremely valuable. They can target which tank customers need to refill that day, assign a driver with the appropriate product in the tank and FuelsMarketNews.com



address any critical lows in real time while the driver is already out in that area. Plus, it allows drivers to come back to the yard empty, eliminating costly retains. For manual call-in customers, installing tank monitoring systems can eliminate any delays associated with waiting on purchase orders. Auto alerts let dispatchers know when tank levels reach the minimum threshold, which can automatically trigger an alert to the customer to create a purchase order. For tank farm customers, a host and client installation can be set up that communicates data from up to 32 constituent tanks next to it, which means the local area network can help reduce costs associated with equipment and data feeds powering all connectivity through one host. When first implementing a solution, most data customers think they need to see all data, all the time, which can be costly. It helps to work with experts who can set thresholds based on specific business KPIs. In reality, customers need to see the right data points set across the operation, so they can take action only when certain events happen. Analytics allow customers to run reports and measure countless data points, such as efficiency per customer or locations, if there are several divisions. Customers can also measure and compare how a product is doing over a given time, adjusting inventory orders and cash flow. So, what is the value proposition for tank monitoring? It starts with visibility. Tank monitoring allows the team to track tank levels and consumption rates across the entire customer base, allowing dealers to be more transparent with customers by sharing information. By setting proper notifications, the FuelsMarketNews.com

dispatcher can proactively adjust routes, reduce inefficient routes and optimize driver activity, leading to lower overall operational costs. There is also a positive environmental impact, since fewer miles driven equates to lower fuel usage and improving the carbon footprint, which is high priority for the industry. At the end of the day, tank monitoring is a low-cost solution that delivers a significant impact across the entire operation over time. Data collected can be used to improve billing, compliance and fleet maintenance, as well as dispatch services. When implemented with the right partner, everyone can prosper from a more efficient operation.

Anton Albrand is division vice president of SkyBitz Sales. SkyBitz provides real-time tank monitoring solutions that improve operational workflow and increase route efficiency. With applications designed to aggregate data from tanks of all shapes and sizes, its robust software was designed for customers across multiple industries including gas, water, chemical and petroleum.

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ne perception during the campaign was that a Biden presidency would be an extension of the Obama Administration in many areas, including energy policy. While the Biden Administration is still in its infancy (and much may change between when this article is written and read) that certainly seems to be the case. If anything, Biden’s carbon reduction policies may be even more aggressive. “Climate change is going to be the overwhelming issue that’s going to impact our industry,” said Paige Anderson, NACS director of government relations, during a recent Convenience Matters podcast. “From


a fuels perspective yes, but you’re also really going to see an aggressive greening of all sorts of policy initiatives … from statements to executive orders to regulatory action—and it’s going to start the first day.” So far, that assessment is spot on. The Trump Administration promoted an “all of the above” energy policy. In practice, it deemphasized alternative energy and worked to maximize U.S. energy independence driven by domestic fracking. The Biden Administration is pursuing a carbonreduction first policy, that focuses on the other end of the fuels spectrum. Candidate Biden promised a $2 trillion federal green energy push, largely centrally managed and directed at working toward a carbon-neutral environment by 2050. After the trillions spent addressing COVID-19, that might be an ambitious goal, even with Democratic control of the legislative branch. The 46th president picked Gina McCarthy, former administrator of the Environmental Protection FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 31

Agency under Obama, as a national climate adviser. She aggressively supported the Obama Administration’s carbon-reduction-focused policy and subsequently served as the president and CEO of the National Resources Defense Council. Biden tapped former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to run the Department of Energy. She is another Obama-era clean energy advocate with ties to electric vehicles and the auto industry. Michael Regan, North Carolina’s environment secretary and a former EPA official, is slated to be EPA director. He has a background with the Environmental Defense Fund. Dan Utech, EPA’s incoming chief of staff, has stated: “EPA will be at the heart of President Biden’s commitment to protect public health and the environment while building a clean energy future that creates good paying jobs. We will be guided by science as we work together to achieve these goals on behalf of all Americans.” Here are the key elements of the proposed Biden energy policy from the campaign, with some commentary on current actions by the administration to fulfill those goals. Normally, campaign promises can be taken with a grain of salt. However, it is already apparent that the Biden Administration will be prioritizing carbon reduction. Take executive action to reverse Trump’s energy agenda. This includes requiring aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations; developing rigorous new fuel economy standards aimed at ensuring 100% of sales for new light- and medium-duty vehicles will be zero emissions and annual improvements for heavy-duty vehicles; limiting/preventing energy development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and banning new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters. The Trump Administration had rolled back Obama-era fuel standards that would have required a 46.7-miles-pergallon fleet average for passenger cars and light trucks by 2025, to an average of 40.4 miles per gallon by 2026. EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also revoked a California waiver dating back to the 1970 Clean Air Act that has uniquely allowed California to set its own pollution regulations, which functionally gives California a backdoor ability to dictate federal standards because of its market size. The auto industry has been on both sides of the fence over the standards, though automakers currently seem to support the Biden initiatives. While they will likely add cost, that can be passed along to consumers. If carbon reduction is pursued even more aggressively in California and internationally, getting on board provides for a more unified market approach and potentially long-term stability for business planning. The methane regulations and oil and gas leasing restrictions provide a mechanism to stunt domestic oil and gas 32 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

production, particularly through fracking, in addition to any environmental perspectives. Biden’s position on fracking was fluid during the campaign. A fracking ban, though desired by the far-left elements of the party, was most certainly not realistic. Having fracking highly regulated and making oil and gas more costly reduces market advantages relative to alternatives. Biden has also declared he would cut off subsidies for fossil fuels, which, some environmentalists say, inject roughly $20 billion into the industry annually. Work with Congress to enact 2021 legislation that puts the U.S. on an irreversible path to achieve economy-wide net-zero emissions no later than 2050. The legislation must require polluters to bear the full cost of the carbon pollution they are emitting. Rally the world to urgent and additional action. This centers on COP 21, the Paris Agreement, that was adopted by 196 parties in 2015 and entered into force in 2016. The Obama Administration was an active supporter and adopter of the Paris Agreement. However, it was not ratified as a treaty in the Senate. The Trump Administration formally withdrew from the pact in 2019. The accord calls for limiting the global average temperature rise in this century to well below two degrees Celsius. The goal is ambitious and will impact daily life in numerous (and likely not always appreciated) ways. The general progression will see coal on the chopping block first, followed by oil. Even natural gas is primarily seen as being a stopgap. Trump’s rationale for pulling out of the agreement centered on an anticipated loss of nearly three million jobs and a negative $3 trillion GDP loss. Further, the Trump Administration noted that the Western nations—the U.S. at the forefront—would be the hardest hit, while China and India would face a more relaxed implementation. What’s more, the developed nations would significantly subsidize the climate programs of underdeveloped nations. As promised during the campaign, the Biden Administration recommitted to COP 21. After signing the executive order, Biden tweeted: “After taking the oath of office this afternoon, I got right to work taking action to: Control the pandemic, provide economic relief, tackle climate change, advance racial equity.” He followed that with, “We’re back in the Paris Climate Agreement.” As an executive agreement, the Biden Administration has some authority to pursue the accord commitments, but there are limits as well compared to a treaty. Biden has the power to direct the EPA and other federal agencies toward those goals and to influence policy commitments and legislative initiatives more broadly to meet the agreement’s requirements. FuelsMarketNews.com


Flex Check your station’s equipment today and see if you’re already ready to put Unleaded 88 on the slate. flexfuelforward.com/flexcheck

The administration promised to “not allow other nations, including China, to game the system by becoming destination economies for polluters, undermining our climate efforts and exploiting American workers and businesses.” Former senator and secretary of state (and strong carbon reduction proponent) John Kerry has accepted a role as “climate czar,” a new position on the National Security Council that will report directly to President Biden. He will be at the forefront of the international climate efforts. Make a historic investment in clean energy and innovation. The goal is to invest $400 billion over 10 years as one part of a broad mobilization of public investment in clean energy and innovation. Biden will also establish ARPA-C, a new research agency focused on accelerating climate technologies. Accelerate the deployment of clean technology throughout the economy. To achieve aggressive emissions reductions, the Biden Administration will set a target of reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035, creating incentives for deep retrofits that combine appliance electrification, efficiency and on-site clean power generation. Part of this is a commitment to deploy more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030. Just where these stations will be deployed and how they will be subsidized is a legislative priority for NACS. “Top issues include the electrification of our transportation system, making sure convenience stores can offer EV charging to customers on an even playing field, having the same access to incentive programs and making sure that the government is not picking winners and losers on who is going to provide electric charging to consumers,” Anderson said. Make environmental justice a priority across all federal agencies. The Biden Administration will make it a priority for all federal agencies—and hold them accountable for results—to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous communities. Hold polluters accountable. Public companies will be required to disclose climate-related financial risks and the greenhouse gas emissions in their operations and supply chains. The administration will work in its first year to enact legislation requiring polluters to bear the full cost of their climate pollution. Biden will also direct his EPA and Justice Department to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation to hold corporate 34 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

executives personally accountable—including jail time when merited. It is noteworthy that National Climate Adviser McCarthy worked at Pegasus Capital Advisors between administrations, where she was involved with “sustainability and wellness” in investments. Her background would seemingly be a solid fit for this aspect of the administration’s energy policy. Create 10 million union jobs. Biden maintains that American workers should build American infrastructure and manufacture all the materials that go into it, and all these workers must have the option to join a union and collectively bargain. The Biden Administration will ensure his infrastructure legislation incorporates labor provisions so federal investments create millions of middleclass jobs, benefiting workers across industries. The Biden Administration got off to a rocky start in that area when it rescinded authorization for the Keystone Pipeline. This saw significant backlash from the unions over the potential loss of up to 10,000 jobs. However, labor secretary nominee, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, has strong union ties and will most certainly encourage unionization as policy. “Marty understands, like I do, that the middle class built this country, and unions built the middle class,” Biden said. “He sees how union workers have been holding this country together during this crisis.” Fulfill our obligation to the communities and workers that have produced the fossil fuels that made it possible for America to become an industrial power. As coal is phased out, the Biden Administration will establish a task force to help these communities access federal investments and leverage private sector investments to help create high-paying union jobs based upon the unique assets of each community, partner with unions and community colleges to create training opportunities for these new jobs, repair infrastructure, keep public employees like firefighters and teachers on the payroll and keep local hospitals open. FMN will regularly report on new developments within the Biden Administration regarding energy policy. The most aggressive initiatives that would require legislative action might be stunted, given the close margins in both the House and Senate, but it’s reasonable to expect that 2021 will be a busy year. Keith Reid is editor-in-chief of Fuels Market News. He can be reached at kreid@fmnweb.com.




SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS to make your vision a reality. You can see it. ADD Systems can help you build it. Our software solutions give you the tools to reshape and grow your business. From the office to the field, from delivery operations to your stores, our staff of industry specialists has the expertise to help you gain a competitive advantage. Take a closer look at ADD Systems at go.addsys.com/build. PETROLEUM DISTRIBUTION






Accurate, real-time information can help turn hurdles into opportunities to gain a competitive edge.

Bruce C. Bott President ADD Systems www.addsys.com

What are the opportunities for the industry as COVID-19 restrictions start to ease? Companies needed to quickly change the way they do business with the onset of the pandemic. It was certainly a challenge, but also an opportunity to go above and beyond to meet new expectations. It was an opportunity to really please customers and solidify their loyalty. Although the restrictions are now easing, customer expectations are still high. In the convenience store industry, “convenience” has been redefined. More people want a frictionless experience, and it’s a trend that continues to be a real opportunity. To compete successfully now, companies have to change the way they do business for the long term. On the fuel side, opportunities exist as demand grows and people eagerly start to get back on the road and head back to work. There is opportunity here to gain new customers and take advantage of the increasing activity. With prices rising at the pump, there is a chance to make up for the past slow year. Why is technology important for operations today? In business you always want to do more, and technology lets you do that without adding additional resources.

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During a challenging time like 2020, you had to do more. You couldn’t stay status quo and still remain in business. Technology helps businesses make the right choices and provides the tools to implement change quickly. When the business environment is shifting rapidly, your data is key to quickly recognize and understand the changes. Accurate, real-time information is incredibly important to help you make good decisions in your stores. What’s selling and what isn’t? Are people buying the same amount of coffee? Are your high traffic hours shifting? Is your contactless mobile ordering and curbside delivery paying off? All important information to help you make the right decisions. Technology helps you gain insight into your business so that you can not only weather a shifting landscape but also thrive in it. In the fuel delivery business, automation is paramount. Prices and supply change quickly, and technology can give you timely data to ensure profitable loads. Also, with the strain on the workforce due to challenges with the pandemic, automation can help you run with fewer hands and add new accounts without having to add personnel. Can you elaborate on the opportunities for fuel businesses? With fuel delivery, the dropping volume meant that protecting margins FuelsMarketNews.com


was even more important than normal. Technology-driven e-commerce is invaluable here, giving you an accurate picture of margins as supply and prices fluctuate. Automation can pull in pricing by supply point, multiple times per day, and push out quotes and invoices with accurate prices to protect margins. Software can present best-buy recommendations and help ensure every load is billed so that you don’t let a penny of profit slide through the cracks. Automation lets you move faster in a market where speed makes all the difference. What technology opportunity is most important for c-stores? One of the most powerful tools for c-stores is business intelligence (BI). There is so much data out there that you collect every day, but the key is to turn it into actionable information. All that POS data gives invaluable insight into store activity and customer preference. You can understand your store traffic for better staffing decisions. You can see what’s selling and what isn’t. You can have tighter inventory control and manage shrink better. You can see out of stocks and understand where you are losing the opportunity to sell more, and these are just a few examples. Another important technology opportunity is being able to integrate your back office with the latest partner FuelsMarketNews.com

products. The pandemic made mobile ordering, curbside pickup and delivery more important than ever, so having the ability to quickly integrate with those products has been paramount to meeting customer expectation and protecting your market share. Without technology, trying to implement these options would require additional manual data entry behind the scenes, but, with technology, these additions fit seamlessly into your normal processes. What would you recommend for someone who wants to take full advantage of the latest technologies? Now is the time! When industry landscapes are changing, it’s an uneasy time, but it is also full of opportunity. Being technology-ready puts you in a position to be nimble and thrive. To get started, understand your current processes, identify your pain points and set your goals. Work with your chosen technology partner to develop a plan to roll out your software change. A good partner knows that every business is different and will work to develop a plan that fits well with your company. We are encouraged by the business outlook. There are always hurdles, but software solutions can help you turn those hurdles into opportunities to gain a competitive edge.

This article is brought to you by ADD Systems, a NACS supplier member.

Technology helps you gain insight into your business so that you can not only weather a shifting landscape but also thrive in it. FMN Magazine SPRING 2021 | 37

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he 1990s saw the launch of one of infomercial entrepreneur Ron Popeil’s top products, the Showtime Rotisserie. The homeowner could easily cook rotisserie chicken, or beef or lamb roast. The tagline, repeated numerous times by Ron and the audience, rolls off the tongue if you are of a certain age: “Set it and forget it!” All too often that tagline can apply to fuel bulk plant operators. The tanks are often ASTs with less intrusive monitoring requirements. The equipment tends to have industrial-level reliability. The operations tend to be low-impact, and in many cases the sites are unattended. And yet, as the years go by technology does advance, and foregoing potential upgrades can be costly. “With most of these bulk plants, it goes from generation to generation,” said Mark Savage, owner, Savage Associates Inc. The firm has been a leader in providing liquid and gas transfer equipment and systems to the petroleum, chemical and industrial markets since 1948. “This pump will


last forever—I don’t have to do anything to it. This meter will last forever. Well, as we all know, that’s not true as time goes on. And that meter has been sitting there for 50 years. They just don’t have the parts anymore, and they haven’t had the parts for a good 20 years,” Savage said. Here we look at some of the areas that might need an upgrade if bulk plants have been in “set and forget” mode for a while. TERMINAL AUTOMATION Some tanks, a rack, manual pumps and an unattended support are what comes to mind thinking of the old-time bulk plant, or many bulk plants operating today, for that matter. While it is not cheap, applying terminal automation technology can provide some notable paybacks, and automation can be applied at different levels. “It’s a big-time infrastructure change to go into full-time terminal automation,” Savage said. “The larger terminals have got on board, and some of the smaller guys have accepted it, but it has huge

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upfront costs to do it properly. But it really adds benefits to the site. It is night and day to be able to see everything in real time. We just did a plant up in Massachusetts that was as old school as you can get—still using typewriters, old bill of lading slid under the door. They did not want to upgrade.” Savage noted the new owner’s son came in and upgraded everything with electronics, as well as new meters and pumps. “Everything that could be replaced or needed to be replaced was replaced, and we went with full terminal automation,” Savage said. “He can see everything at a moment’s notice and feels so relaxed right now.” Inventory management has long been a priority on the retail side. The reasons are obvious. The inventory turns over at a high rate, there are the regulatory requirements for underground storage tanks, and the threat of product theft is higher. That does not mean there are not compelling reasons to look at the latest generation inventory technologies that can be applied to bulk storage operations. “Inventory reconciliation and keeping your inventory as accurate as possible with the newer equipment really impacts the overhead,” Savage said. “It has better accuracy, whether it is a meter or new gauging. The older flute and tape cage type are really analog devices and are not that accurate. Now you get into technology that can give you precise, up-to-the-minute level gauging, and it can send it down to an electronic system that records all of this in real time. You could be sitting on a beach down in Miami, in the middle of winter, look at your phone and see exactly the state of your inventory.” 40 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

Savage noted that it is a big jump, with a lot of trust in electronics. It is a great solution when installed properly, but it can be a headache when it is not. “It’s finding the correct system to put in and working with the correct team,” he said. NEW CAPABILITIES Flexibility is another advantage with upgrading a plant. The industry no longer relies on a few grades of gasoline and on-road and off-road diesel. Ethanol and biodiesel can be blended at virtually any percentage, and a range of additives can be blended to enhance performance or support quality. While splash blending in the truck is a cheaper alternative, pre-blending can produce a more reliable product under a broad range of environmental considerations. “There’s a lot of the new fuel management systems out there that support more and more products,” said Tony Cooper, vice president of construction at Acterra Group Inc. Acterra has provided equipment, manufacturing, consulting and specialized construction services to the fuel, renewable energy, government and fleet industries since 1958. “Some of them go up to 16 products. You can blend straight B100 with No. 2 diesel and make B5 or B20. You can become the rent holder at that point, and work some of the cost savings or get some of the subsidy instead of whoever gives you B99.” One challenge and opportunity with bulk plant operations has been the ability to take advantage of market opportunities with biofuels. The valves and meters must be able to operate with biofuels without degrading to do the job to get to the correct blend. “The older meters have a 10:1 turn down, which means for every 100 gallons they could accurately register down to 10 gallons per minute,” Savage said. “A lot of the newer meters have a 50:1 turn down, which makes a huge difference with handling a wide range of biofuels. So, say you have a site in Connecticut that may be servicing New York, Massachusetts—various states in a cluster. Different states have standards for how much bio and in the future how much renewables. You are going to want to have the flexibility to do B5 for your own customers, but if you are trucking it into New York and they want B30, you can create that blend on the run. You could not do that 10 years ago.” FuelsMarketNews.com

BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE Steel is steel, and it has been used to store and move petroleum products since the earliest days of the industry. While change has moved at a glacial pace with basic site infrastructure components compared to other areas, that does not mean that new construction or major maintenance-related upgrades don’t bring new efficiencies. That is especially the case when handling biofuels. “Stainless steel is compatible with just about anything,” said Cooper. “Gas and diesel always used carbon steel, and we’re moving away from that for compatibility with the other products. Everybody always used threaded pipe, and you don’t see that as much anymore. It is all welded pipe and bent pipe where they bend the corners instead of using 90-degree fittings. It cuts down on flow restrictions and improves maintenance in areas that rust and crack.” Some upgrades are necessitated by changes in common practices. Bottom loading is hardly new at the terminal level, but it is making inroads at the smaller facilities as well. Safety can also be an issue. Bulk plants are industrial facilities where there is some degree of danger in the process. It is not only a moral obligation to provide a safe working environment, but one that has liability ramifications. “A lot of the older terminals get away with murder,” Savage said. “I was looking at a site today, and it was an OSHA nightmare. The top loading rack was crumbling. The operator pretty much leaped from the top of this safety enclosure to the truck—no rails or anything. If somebody falls, you are looking at a lawsuit and they were not even considering that. All it takes is a single driver falling and their business is up a creek.” MAINTENANCE The reason so many bulk plants sit for decades without any major overhauls is that bulk plant equipment tends to be durable, reliable and repairable. A little bit of effort and it just keeps on working. “There’s always wear and tear, and there’s always things that are going to break down,” Cooper said. “But as long as you maintain it, it’s going to last for a long time—20 years maybe.” 42 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

After decades of loyal service that can be a problem.“You do reach the point of no return with a piece of equipment,” Savage said. “With meters, if you’re constantly changing out the rotors the internals start to wear away. It gets to a point where the accuracy is gone. What used to be 0.25% accuracy is up over 1%, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Eventually that equipment can’t be repaired. “Pretty much anything Neptune, or you have old Marlo pumps—if you see that sitting there and you have a leak, good luck, you’re in trouble. You’re looking at new equipment. Get to it before the point of no return,” said Savage. EFFICIENCY In a world where efficiency constantly moves forward, there are opportunities that spill over into bulk plant operations. Energy savings are obvious, as is the opportunity to use less costly equipment. “A lot of the equipment is much more efficient,” Savage said. “You don’t need the big 30-40 horsepower motors to do the job because the pumps also are much more efficient.” Efficiency can also translate into operational performance by optimizing an older, more haphazard system, with new equipment. “You can fill the tank three times quicker with a three-inch line then you can with a smaller inch-and-a-half to two-inch pump,” Cooper said. “So, they can get that stuff done quicker, faster and better.” So, there are solid reasons to consider upgrading older bulk plants that are still, in a basic sense, as functional as they were decades ago. They play an important role in a fuels marketing operation and deserve the same consideration and respect afforded to other areas like logistics or retail operations (if that is in the mix). “It’s been a battle that we’ve been fighting forever,” Savage said. “Take care of your bulk plant as you would your home—it’s a huge investment.” Keith Reid is editor-in-chief of Fuels Market News. He can be reached at kreid@fmnweb.com.


OPEN ECOSYSTEM Unified solutions require the right mix of people, process and technology. Matt Tormollen Vice President and General Manager, Solutions, Dover Fueling Solutions

Dover Fueling Solutions (DFS) has built a solid core of solutions through in-house development and acquisitions. How do you bring all these seperate pieces together into unified solutions? Unified solutions require the integration of people, process and technology to be successful. At DFS, our core values are built around collaboration and alignment between our global teams. Our platforms are built from the ground up to accommodate diversity at the site level between equipment and systems, while also supporting the different business models we see throughout the world regions. Flexibility and extensibility at the site level are critical as new solutions, partners and acquisitions enable our customers to capitalize on opportunities for margin expansion, monetize investments in 44 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

site infrastructure or reduce operating costs over time. How important is it to be a technology company vs. just an equipment company? To enable the evolution of the consumer experience in fueling and convenience retail, we need to provide complete solutions that drive real, measurable value to our customers. These solutions are inherently based on technology innovations in both equipment and software. Our DFS Anthem UX™ user experience platform, currently available on the Wayne Ovation® fuel dispenser, and the recently announced DFS DX™ connected solutions platform are both great examples of our vision to enable digital transformation in the fuel and convenience retail industry coming to fruition. Both solutions share common platform elements, can operate independent of one another, and provide greater value when used together. We are truly leveraging the strength of our history of innovation in fueling equipment to spur evolution into a technology leader. FuelsMarketNews.com

This article is brought to you by Dover Fueling Solutions, a NACS supplier member.

EMS What commitments are required to provide solutions on the cutting edge today? We strongly believe that creating an open ecosystem for partners and customers is critically important in delivering solutions to the market. As the pace of technological change quickens, it is simply not possible for one vendor to have all the pieces necessary to capitalize on our customers’ opportunities. This was one of the key reasons we chose the Microsoft Azure team as our key partner to deliver the DFS DX platform. The Azure ecosystem comprises numerous companies innovating in convenience retail, especially in the consumer experience. By sharing a common platform, we can solve customer challenges and open new opportunity areas more quickly and effectively than in a closed system. You hear terms like “cloud computing” or “Internet of Things” so often. How do these impact retail operations beyond the buzzwords? Modern technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and platform as a service (PaaS) are simply FuelsMarketNews.com

ingredients that enable solutions to drive customer value more effectively and quickly in terms of increased margins and lower costs. Through IoT and edge computing, we can more effectively monitor and manage site assets, taking action quickly to capitalize on opportunities or issues. We can also drive improved consumer experiences at the site by linking the forecourt and the inside of the store through promotion and loyalty programs. What un- or under-explored capabilities should retailers be excited about as bleedingedge technology becomes more mainstream? There is a strong desire among convenience retailers for a “single pane of glass” view of all the assets at a site above ground, below ground, outside and inside the store. Likewise, the consumer’s expectation of the fueling and purchase experience is evolving around mobility and loyalty, and they are demanding more. By leveraging IoT, cloud computing and an open ecosystem, addressing these needs becomes more and more achievable every day.

To enable the evolution of the consumer experience, we need to provide complete solutions that drive real, measurable value to our customers.

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nd a s V E Talks l e u F f nt o e d i s e r P ics. t e s c i i g V o s L ’ uel agle F E g t n n i a g i a G Man EID HR BY KEIT

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here is an old rule of thumb in the industry. If a company entered convenience retailing from a traditional marketing operation, it was assumed that it would do fuel logistics better than retail. Conversely, retailers entering the fuel logistics process would be better at retail than the fuels component. That might have been true decades ago, but not so much today with the mergers, acquisitions and the cross pollination of talent. Joel Hirschboeck, vice president of fuel, Giant Eagle Inc., exemplifies today’s reality. He joined Pittsburgh-based grocer Giant Eagle, and its GetGO convenience operations in September 2018 and is responsible for the management of GetGo’s fuel category, including retail pricing, supply and logistics, wholesale branded sales and commercial fleet sales. During the past two years, Hirschboeck has helped enable GetGo to insource fuel procurement, launch a new loyalty program (AdvantagePay) and transition and certify GetGo as a TOP TIER fuel retailer. Prior to joining Giant Eagle, Hirschboeck served as general manager of fuel marketing and procurement at Kwik Trip Inc. During his nine years at the La Crosse, Wisconsin-based convenience retailer, he led initiatives in fleet optimization, CNG, renewables like Unleaded 88 and biodiesel blending, as well as diversifying the supply portfolio to include bulk trading and hedging capabilities. Hirschboeck’s operations have not only been progressive by retail fueling standards but also are noteworthy even by marketer/distributor standards. Here are his thoughts on running a top-level fuels program.


FMN: What’s the most interesting nontraditional fuel in the industry today? Hirschboeck: Something that I think everybody is paying attention to—or at least it’s gotten the most hype—are electric vehicles. They cannot be ignored anymore. They are everywhere, from auto manufacturers and tech companies to fuel providers, retailers and utility companies. So, everybody’s kind of looking at how will EV work and how will it evolve. It is reminiscent to me of the natural gas buzz, but there is a lot more government support behind electrification. The industry is investing in it, and the big auto companies are behind it now in a big, public way. Marketers must be aware and be involved in that space and start to understand what is happening. FMN: How is GetGo approaching EV charging? Hirschboeck: We’ve recently partnered with Tesla. We will be launching our own proprietary EV network at our stores. It’s time to get into the game and really understand what the market looks like. But more importantly, how are we going to operate in that market space and the convenience store and what does that look like and what opportunities exist?” FMN: Is there a model for metering and selling electricity at the charger? Hirschboeck: The challenge is in how the value chain works. In a liquid fuels’ environment, I buy a gallon of gasoline for “X” price and I sell it for X plus to cover cost and margin. Utility rates don’t necessarily align with a onetime quick-use environment. It is hooked up to a meter and it tracks over time, and there is a demand charge based on your peaks. That helps utilities protect themselves and cover the ratability of the use on a day-to-day basis. But then it is per-kilowatt hours, so it is not on a per-unit monetization basis. So, there is not a smooth, simple one-toone transfer from the energy origin supplier to the end consumer. That is something that needs

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to be dissected quite a bit. And I’m sure that’s being worked on. You cannot come back and bill your EV customer a month and a half later if you have a demand charge. I think that is why today you see a lot of subscription models, or the rates are variable. It’s not as commoditized as consumer gas prices. There is not a street sign that says, “This is what you’re going to pay.” And everybody is competing from the same supply points, so there will be opportunity there, and then, comparing it to charging up at home or an at-work solution or the like. FMN: What do retailers need to be aware of if they want to more fully manage their own fuel logistics? Hirschboeck: We just went through a big transformation process last July. We were very reliant on a third party for our fuel supply and distribution in a delivered gallon model. We worked toward bringing a lot of that capability in-house, which is part of my reason for joining the GetGo team. There is obviously a lot that goes into it from a systems perspective, a talent perspective and relationships. Establish those relationships with your refinery and supply partners and build on them. There are a lot of different ways you can approach the logistics side of the business. We utilize a single-point, third-party dedicated fleet for delivery that functions and operates a lot like an in-house fleet. That is what I was familiar with from Kwik Trip—having your own fleet at your 48 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

disposal to optimize and to support the stores. And so, we have come up with a model that very closely mimics that and gives us dedicated service and really brings top-notch support to our stores, because for us supply is priority No. 1. FMN: What about the commercial side for a retail consumer-focused operation? Hirschboeck: That is something that we are growing actively. Historically, GetGo focused on gasoline, and it is still, by far, the top product. But we see the opportunity there. Fleets continue to regionalize their operations. There is less coastto-coast, over-the-road driving, a lot more relay and hub-and-spoke activity. I think the pandemic is going to push that even further, as we see a lot more online retail activity take place and needing to support local and regional delivery capabilities. So, it is a good time right now to really be considering commercial fleet fueling. FMN: What are the differences inside the store, if any, between the retail customer and the commercial customer? Hirschboeck: Your traditional commuter rush is in the morning and the afternoon. Obviously, that has changed since the pandemic. We have seen a shift to more late morning or midday. From the truck driver’s perspective it is similar, but they are usually early morning or at the end of their day. They typically buy more inside, especially if it is their stock up for the day—and away they go. They are good inside customers and, depending on the type of operation the driver works for, can be very ritualistic and routine. So, capturing those customers and leaving a good impression is important. FMN: Hydrogen is getting a buzz now, specifically for commercial fueling. Do you have any thoughts on that? Hirschboeck: It is challenging because the core commodity infrastructure is complex. You cannot just go into your street front and tap into your utility like you can with natural gas or electricity. Hydrogen is also cryogenic, so you are more on par with an LNG type solution. So, the infrastructure side is very expensive. Some are starting to develop ideas and solutions for the heavy-duty market. So, I think their success will FuelsMarketNews.com




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be like how the CNG market developed, leveraging some significant anchor tenants to be able to build out the core infrastructure. FMN: Does CNG still make sense? Hirschboeck: There are still opportunities, but you really need to understand the economics. If you are in the Midwest or East Coast with access to Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits and RNG, you can work the cost of goods pretty low. And if you understand the business and how to manage it, it is still a very successful way to run a fleet. You just have to do the analysis and work through the cost of ownership.

do just fine and make margin and have a successful business. When folks get their site counts and their volumes up, the fractions of cents that can be saved through the speed of information starts to add up to a real, material number. And before you know it, you have got constant data and information flowing. You know your competitors’ prices, and you can react as quickly as you need to and capitalize on every gallon. You are tracking the market and know exactly when to pull the trigger and buy more product— or not. And you utilize technology so you are buying the lowest price product that day, that minute, that hour, that terminal.

FMN: How important is technology in managing your fuel program? Hirschboeck: You can have success in all ranges of technology adoption. If you are a small operator you don’t need a whole lot of technology. You can

FMN: Is there a role for fuel to be more than just the commodity that people stop for then go into the store? Hirschboeck: We have been evaluating our fuel platform and the products we


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offer and recognized that there was an opportunity to improve the fuel that we were offering, so we joined and just rolled out TOP TIER. We have also branded our premium fuel G-Force, and we are seeing good results with that. You can then marry that with our loyalty programs, like Fuel Perks Plus, where you can earn or redeem at the c-store or the pump or in the grocery store. So, it’s very flexible. We also have a program called AdvantagePay that gives you instant discounts on top of your Fuel Perks loyalty points. It is through a program that links your checking account to our AdvantagePay loyalty card and that gives you, depending on the station, day and conditions, from five to 30 cents off additionally on your purchase per gallon. It is a robust program and probably one of the more lucrative within our market.

FMN: If you had to name one key to success with retail fueling, what would that be? Hirschboeck: You could probably place these two in the same bucket—flexibility and adaptability. The fuel space has been putting gasoline in cars for the past 100 years. But within that it is so dynamic between the infrastructure, how you market fuel, the types of fuels, what alternatives should you be investigating, how you buy fuel—is it bulk, at the refinery gate, contracts with supply partners? There is always something changing. So, if you own your own destiny and you can be adaptable, that is probably the biggest key from a success standpoint. Keith Reid is editor-in-chief of Fuels Market News. He can be reached at kreid@fmnweb.com.



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Advanced Digital Data Inc. (ADD Systems), a leading supplier of back office and home office software solutions for the convenience store industry, has partnered with Vroom Delivery to offer c-stores an opportunity to expand into order-ahead with pickup or delivery. Vroom, an e-commerce solution designed specifically for the convenience store industry, enables retailers to sell and market all their food and products online and be in complete control of the delivery. With options like home delivery, in-store pickup and curbside pickup, Vroom helps chains manage the entire process to help maintain margins and enable delivery of age-restricted products.


Dover Fueling Solutions (“DFS”) has launched DX Fleet, part of the DFS DX connected solutions platform, which enables digital transformation for the global fueling and retail industry. DX Fleet gives owners and operators the ability to manage fleet fueling enterprises from anywhere through a single interface software platform. DX Fleet is a part of DFS DX, an open, global and common cloud platform that harnesses advanced analytics and IoT. DX Fleet enables companies to quickly reconcile transactions across multiple sites, while ensuring sites stay up and running at peak condition. Access to site-generated alerts gives owners and operators the ability to manage assets to help ensure any error can be easily diagnosed and resolved. As an IoT cloud-based solution, the integration with other systems is seamless, eliminating any lost time and maximizing efficiencies.


Invenco, a global provider of self-service payment technology and secure customer engagement solutions, has agreed with Verifone, a world leader in payment and commerce solutions, to cooperate on interoperability of Invenco’s G6 and G7 Outdoor Payment Terminals with certain versions of Verifone’s Commander Point-of-Sale Software. This cooperation will enable retail fuel sites who use both Invenco and Verifone products to receive ongoing support for the interoperability of their Invenco terminals when used with Verifone’s Commander software. The Invenco and Verifone products each follow the Conexxus Forecourt Payment Terminal Protocol for pay-at-pump and 52 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021

inside-store system communication. The Invenco-i2 program offers a high-quality, low-cost terminal to meet outdoor EMV compliance while upgrading the forecourt experience.


Dover Fueling Solutions (‘DFS’) launched DFS DX connected solutions platform enabling digital transformation for the global fueling and retail industry. DFS DX delivers operational cost reductions, increased sales and an enhanced customer experience through a combination of intelligent connected cloud solutions. DFS DX is an open, global and common cloud platform that harnesses advanced analytics and IoT to deliver five core innovative solutions focused on customer experience and asset optimization. These five core solutions span wetstock management, remote asset monitoring, targeted advertising and media at the dispenser, fleet fueling site management and point-ofsale management. These solutions empower fuel retailers to identify fuel loss in real time, optimize dispenser uptime, increase sales through targeted advertising at the fuel dispenser, centrally manage point-of-sale solutions and control an entire fleet from a single interface.


Carson is expanding its renewable diesel agreement with Neste into a multi-year contract. Through this partnership, Carson will be able to continue to provide its extensive government and commercial customer base across the Pacific Northwest with a reliable supply of Neste MY Renewable Diesel at a competitive price. Neste, the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel, was one of the first companies to introduce renewable diesel into Oregon after the state adopted its Clean Fuels Program. Neste MY Renewable Diesel delivers up to 80% less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over its life cycle when compared with fossil diesel. Additionally, the fuel is shown to deliver superior performance and reduce maintenance costs.


The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company has launched Fleet Central to help fleets maximize efficiencies for their tires, one of their largest maintenance expenses. The new interactive portal allows fleets to purchase tires, activate service and gain unparalleled insight into their tire FuelsMarketNews.com


program—all in one place. With Fleet Central, fleets can view zto make faster, more informed decisions for their business. The modern, easy-to-use dashboard allows users to view information at a total fleet level all the way down to a specific vehicle, tire or service event in real time. Fleets can also interact with Goodyear directly by purchasing tires, scheduling service, requesting tire inspections or activating emergency roadside assistance from Goodyear’s service network of more than 2,300 providers.


PDI, a global provider of enterprise software solutions to convenience retailers and petroleum wholesalers, announced it has reached an agreement with EG Group to expand the use of PDI Payments to nearly 1,700 sites across North America. PDI added payments capabilities to its Marketing Cloud Solutions offering last year after acquiring ZipLine, a leader for ACH payment and provider of mobile payment technology. The PDI Payments platform currently powers EG Group’s SmartPay Rewards. The rewards program originated with Cumberland Farms— one of several U.S.-based convenience store brands EG Group acquired in recent years—and will soon be rolled out to EG Group’s remaining stores across North America. Customers can download the free app and enjoy a contactless payment experience, whether making purchases in the store or at the pump. PDI will provide the technology to support customer enrollment in SmartPay and deliver ongoing customer service for reward members.


FLEETCOR Technologies Inc., a leading global business payments company, announced it has renewed an agreement under which TravelCenters of America Inc. will continue accepting FLEETCOR’s Comdata fleet card at its TA, TA Express and Petro branded travel centers. Under the terms of the extension, TA, TA Express and Petro travel centers also will begin accepting FLEETCOR’s Fuelman and FleetWide fuel cards.


P97 Networks, a leader in cloud-based mobile commerce, and Visa’s global payment and fraud FuelsMarketNews.com

management platform, Cybersource, announced a new multi-year global partnership to deliver best-in-class mobile payment acceptance tools with built-in integrated risk management for convenience and fuel retailers. The partnership will scale and expand P97’s PetroZone® cloud-based mobile commerce platform internationally, with first implementations in Asia Pacific, Middle East and North America. Demand for contactless services has created a surge in mobile and digital commerce.


TruStar Energy, a market leader in renewable natural gas (RNG) fuel supply for the transportation sector, announced a successful 2020 and aggressive growth plans to continue transitioning heavy-duty U.S. transportation from diesel to lower cost, cleaner alternatives. During 2020, TruStar Energy completed 42 natural gas fueling station projects across the country, bringing its total completed projects to 380. TruStar’s service network continues to grow with over 60 service professionals providing coverage to 140 fueling stations nationwide, producing over 120 million annual GGE.


NCR Corporation, a leading provider of retail solutions, is among the top providers of Worldwide Unified Commerce SaaS and Software and SaaS for the retail industry, according to the Unified Commerce Market Research Report conducted by the IHL Retail Executive Advisory Program (REAP). The IHL rankings highlight NCR’s industry accomplishments in the face of an increasingly competitive market. In this year’s report, IHL identified NCR as a leader based on market strength, evaluated among others through global reach and innovation, on growth, direction and resilience as well as market share. These factors suggest NCR is well aligned with the state of commerce moving forward and well positioned to meet a broad range of needs.


In collaboration with General Motors and OneH2, Navistar Inc., a subsidiary of Navistar

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International Corporation, is introducing a complete solution for customer implementation of a zero-emission long-haul system. J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., a subsidiary of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., will serve as the initial pilot. Navistar plans to make its first production model International RH™ Series fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) commercially available in model year 2024. Test vehicles are expected to begin the pilot phase under the new, complete solution at the end of 2022. The integrated solution will be competitive with other powertrain offerings with a target range of 500+ miles and a hydrogen fueling time of less than 15 minutes.


Clean Energy Fuels Corp. announced plans to work with BP Products North America Inc., a subsidiary of BP PLC, to develop, own and operate new renewable natural gas (RNG) facilities at dairies and other agriculture facilities that will produce one of the cleanest fuels in the world. Clean Energy is the largest provider of RNG as a transportation fuel in the United States and Canada, the largest RNG fuel provider under the California LCFS program and holds a joint RNG marketing agreement established in 2018 with BP. In addition to the carbon-negative fuel, Clean Energy will continue to source RNG from other providers to supply its network of 550 fueling stations in North America and maintain its leadership position in the California LCFS market. This also marks another step in Clean Energy’s ambition to meet the rapidly growing demand by customers for carbonnegative RNG and to deliver 100% Redeem™ branded RNG to its entire fueling infrastructure by 2025, which Clean Energy is well on its way to achieving.


XL Fleet announced that Essential Utilities Inc., one of the largest publicly traded water, wastewater and natural gas providers in the U.S., is launching a pilot program to electrify its two most popular commercial GM vehicle platforms with the XLH™ hybrid electric drive system. The initial pilot will include installing an XL Fleet hybrid system onto a GMC Sierra 2500 HD pickup truck and GMC Savanna Express van. 54 | FMN Magazine SPRING 2021


Teletrac Navman, a global software-as-a-service provider that leverages location-based technology and services for managing mobile assets, has launched a new tracking device designed to monitor and track powered and non-powered assets such as trailers and containers. The Solar Tracker is an advanced GPS device that runs on solar power by day and long-lasting, durable batteries by night for around-the-clock coverage of a fleet business’ valuable assets. The Solar Tracker functions as a key operational tool for the business, enabling fleet and asset managers to use the data accumulated by the device to manage a more accurate invoicing system, and to know what assets are available to be utilized for jobs, which can save businesses thousands of dollars annually.


VP Racing Fuels has expanded its distributor network in the Midwest, offering a branded program with fuel supplied by Flint Hills Resources. This brand offers a one-stop shop for general consumers and automotive enthusiasts. Currently the program is offered in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota South Dakota and Wisconsin and is seeing strong adoption from key dealers and distributors. Two additional distributors have signed on to the new branded program and are actively marketing the brand throughout the Midwest: HTP Energy (Onalaska, Wisc.) and Dooley’s Petroleum (Willmar, Minn.).


Mansfield Energy announced a partnership with Microsoft as part of its digital vision to simplify the North American fuel supply chain. This involves leveraging Microsoft’s advanced business platforms, customized by Mansfield, to transform the fuel buying experience into an efficient, digitally-enabled process. Mansfield has invested heavily in its digital footprint for years, including its order management and optimization system, Entinuum, its D1 Connect platform for digital collaboration with delivery partners, its new Mansfield Data Analytics Platform (MDAP) and, most recently, the release of the newest version of its customer portal technology FuelNet. Mansfield also provides specialized training to customers on integrating fuel data insights into their purchasing programs. FuelsMarketNews.com

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Biodiesel Enters the U.S. Market BY KEITH REID


s far as alternative fuels go, biodiesel is about as mainstream as you can get. Made from recycled cooking oil, soybean oil and animal fats, it is a cleanerburning diesel replacement. Although vegetable oil had been discussed as a fuel source by Rudolph Diesel himself in 1912, biodiesel (using the transesterification process) arose in the 1990s as the attempt at a mature, formalized product for the market. As the National Biodiesel Board notes, there are more than 125 plants producing 2.6 billion gallons of biodiesel (2018 statistics) with a total production capacity of 3 billion gallons. The product is available nationally, and more than 78% of new diesel vehicles can support biodiesel bends as high as 20% (B20). On the heating oil side, Bioheat is seen as the future of that industry. This product is a mix of ultra-low sulfur heating oil (basically ultralow sulfur diesel) and biodiesel. As one example, the New England Fuel Institute’s members have committed to aggressively replacing petroleum heating oil with biodiesel.

We can trace the earliest NPN coverage back to the 1990s. The May 1994 issue saw biodiesel appear as a relatively small “trends” news item. Carbon reduction was already a thing at that point, and various alternative fuels, such as natural gas, were under development for commercial transportation. The news item headlined “Biodiesel, a Latecomer Alternative, Seeks Place in the Market” was short and direct. It noted the environmental benefits of the fuel but also the price dynamics. At a theoretical price of $2.50 a gallon at a time when diesel was 50 cents per gallon, a 20% (B20) blend would raise the total cost of a gallon of diesel to 90 cents per gallon. With that in mind, the principal market was mass transit agencies, which were being pressured to find cleaner burning fuels for municipal buses. The next item, “Biodiesel Lays Plans to Compete With Petroleum Diesel,” in the March 1995 issue provided an update on biodiesel progress. Nobody pretends for a moment that renewable fuels are or can be competitive with fossil fuels in the near future, except as a niche fuel, but the search goes on anyway for a variety of reasons, the

most cognitive of which is the backing of special interests. But the partnership of government and special interests is making some headway in vital diesel fuel. The time frame is still remote for any mass-market penetration, but there are plans to get a foothold in specific environmental areas in the short term and actually in toe-to-toe competition on the economic footing in 15 to 20 years. The article noted that process improvements were being developed that would enable producers to manufacture biodiesel continuously rather than in small individual batches. Also, the washing process that uses water to separate glycerol (a valuable byproduct of biodiesel production) from the fuel was becoming more efficient. It was noted that process improvements will also enable producers to use feedstocks other than rapeseed and other oilseed crops. The developments and the timeline noted in the second article largely played out. Processes did become far more efficient. Similarly, soybean oil, recycled cooking oils and animal fats became the central feedstocks for production. Prices have dropped to become far more competitive, especially when combined with the RIN system. Today, also driven by the same environmental and regulatory forces at play in 1994, biodiesel is seen as a steppingstone to even cleaner burning renewable diesel. And, though it’s a different fuel entirely, there is now a growing discussion over hydrogen as a power source for commercial transportation. To some extent, it is at the same developmental stage as when NPN began covering biodiesel. Only time will tell how it plays out. Keith Reid is editorin-chief of Fuels Market News. He can be reached at kreid@fmnweb.com.

For more than 100 years, from its founding in 1909 to when it went out of business in 2013, National Petroleum News (NPN) documented the rise of petroleum marketing and retailing in the United States. NACS, PEI and The Fuels Institute have catalogued the rich history of NPN in its entirety. Each issue of Fuels Market News will look back at the history of our vibrant industry, through the eyes of NPN, to see how it reflects the issues, challenges and opportunities we face today.

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