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Glass companies reduce fuel costs with better trucks, better delivery

Average diesel prices nationwide increased 2 cents last week to $2.95 a gallon, according to data released July 24 from the Energy Information Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Up 26 percent from a year ago, the prices near record highs, topped only by the four weeks in October 2005 following Hurricane Rita, according to the EIA.

Glass companies need to get used to higher fuel costs, warns Bill Stone, president and chief executive officer of Louisville Plate Glass in Louisville. “[Prices] are going to continue to rise. We’re going to look back at $2.50 [per gallon] as the good old days.”

While fabricators can’t do much about the price, they can decrease unnecessary expenditures by maximizing fuel efficiency and limiting trips, Stone says.

Louisville Plate Glass managers also operate a careful preventative maintenance program for trucks to improve vehicle operation and maximize fuel efficiency. “You simply cannot give out all the services you want as if fuel is only 80 cents a gallon,” he says. “Work with customers to avoid trips when your truck is only half full. They’re going through the same thing, and they understand.”

Max Perilstein, vice president of marketing for Arch Aluminum & Glass Co. of Tamarac, Fla., says managers at his company work to limit delivery distances by assigning jobs to plants closest to the delivery sites.

“Because we have so many branches, we can keep deliveries shorter and closer to home and not have to ship material, for example, from New Jersey to Chicago,” Perilstein says.

Choosing the lightest and most aerodynamic trucks and carriers also increases fuel efficiency, says John Weise, president of F. Barkow Inc. in Milwaukee. He recommends aluminum racks because they weigh less than stainless and painted steel racks. “A 10-foot rack for a van of steel weighs about 360 pounds,” he says. “With aluminum, it’s just about 225 pounds.”

For companies using trucks with enclosed bodies, Weise suggests adding a sloped bulkhead toolbox that hangs over the cab and acts as a wind dam.

When companies can’t beat high prices through internal methods, some pass them along to customers through fuel surcharges.

Perilstein says it’s too early to determine whether Arch will be forced into a surcharge.

“[These are] costs you can’t legitimately plan for, so all you can do is keep your eye on it and make the right calls, making sure you take care of the customers,” he says.

 

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