Many options exist to keep your fleet topped off every morning, including outsourcing an on-site refueling service, running your own fuel/lube trucks, on-site tanks and even fuel tanks in the back of pickups.
Phoenix, AZ-based Markham Construction is a large commercial contractor with 200+ pieces of equipment. The company has in an-house maintenance and service coordinator, as well as journeymen mechanics and service people on the payroll. "We do all of the major repairs here in our shop," says Hollis Loper, vice president, equipment operations.
The company's equipment ranges from large Caterpillar motor scrapers to motor graders and skip loaders. It also owns its own lube trucks. "These trucks have 2,000-gal. tanks and they all have around 12 or 13 reels on them for product," says Loper.
Markham uses a diversified approach to match its refueling strategy to the jobsite. The company contracts its fuel and has a 12,000-gal. fuel tank in its yard. It uses a combination of fuel storage and purchasing on demand to best meet its needs.
Its own fuel trucks are used for on-site fueling when it makes sense, and outsourcing is used when it doesn't. Jobsite tanks are also occasionally used. "We do put portable tanks on sites when consumption is greater than the fuel trucks hold," says Loper.
Efficiency is a must when refueling a larger fleet, and Markham has developed a few best practices. "We line the machines up where all fuel tanks are on the same side," says Loper. "We only fuel between shifts to prevent interruptions."
Horsepower vs. fuel consumption
Paul R. Lipp & Son, Rogers, OH, is an excavation contractor that runs excavators, bulldozers, track loaders, wheel loaders and scrapers. "We purchase fuel in bulk and store it at our equipment yard for convenience and consistent, traceable quality," says Greg Lipp, president. "Buying fuel on the road can be risky sometimes."
The company has mostly small- to mid-sized equipment. "The average horsepower is around 100 hp, with the larger machines at 175 hp," says Lipp.
"Our jobs typically last two to three days with some larger jobs that may last four to six weeks. We have been fortunate to find work within a 20-mile radius of our equipment yard, so we always return to our yard at the end of each day," he notes. "We have not experienced the need to have portable fuel tanks on our jobsites."
Jobsite fuel tanks can pose many problems. "The portable on-site fuel tanks raise questions about theft, vandalism and environmental liabilities," Lipp notes. "Our operators drive pickup trucks that carry the usual hand tools, plus lasers, chop saws, safety equipment, etc. These trucks are also equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks that mount in the bed of the truck and carry about 90 gal. of off-road diesel. They have 12-volt electric transfer pumps."
Horsepower does make a difference in determining fueling requirements."I like to think of fuel usage as having a direct relationship with the horsepower of a machine," says Lipp. "Unless the machine is idling most of the time or doing light-duty work, the fuel consumption is going to be fairly easy to predict. Our 175-hp elevating scrapers will burn between 5 and 6 gal. per hour (gph) when working. The 100-hp excavators and dozers will use 3.50 to 3.75 gph when working and the smaller excavators (5- to 8-metric ton class) will use 2.0 to 2.5 gph.
"From the above usage rates, you can see we average about two machine refuelings per 90-gal. transfer tank for an 8- to 10-hour shift," he notes. "A different approach to refueling would be required if we had multiple machines at 150 hp and over and operators that did not or could not carry their own fuel. This might be an on-site portable tank or a fuel supplier that brings a fuel delivery truck to the jobsite each day."