Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to right-sizing your fueling solution on tight, urban worksites. For many construction companies operating in major metro areas but small construction sites, navigating the juggling act of keeping heavy equipment, generators and other assets fueled and maintained can be a daily headache.
There is a litany of factors to consider when it comes to fueling time on an urban construction site:
- If using a third-party fueling service, how do they access the job site? Are you forced to stop production so they can aceess your equipment?
- For operations fueling on your own, how much time are you designating to keeping your equipment fueled-up? Is it following safety best practices and also maximizing uptime?
- How are you dealing with traffic flow, parking and any potential blockages of neighboring properties?
Choosing a right-sized fueling and maintenance solution – or selecting the right fueling partner – can have major implications on your efficiency and uptime. As one fuel distributor has found out, making a smart decision in this regard can play a huge role in future growth.
Thunder CreekSmart Fueling in the Big Apple
IZE Rentals, of Brooklyn, New York has come accustomed to leveraging new technology to fit the needs of their customers, which operate on tight, high-pressure construction sites. Launched two years ago primarily to provide construction sites with generator power, IZE Rentals has diversified into providing smart fueling solutions to construction clients in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, New York.
When the company first launched, its owner, Ari Simkin, used 100-gallon tanks in the back of pickup trucks to squeeze onto construction sites to fuel generators and heavy equipment that was running. They quickly found it wasn’t an efficient process for them, or their clients.
“We were spending half our day in gas stations just refilling the auxiliary tanks, going to the job site, dumping, going back to the gas station,” says Simkin. “It was costing us a lot of time, especially in Brooklyn. You could sit in traffic half your day.”
And in the urban construction space, time is money. So, Simkin took action and purchased the very first model of Thunder Creek Equipment’s Multi-Tank Upfit diesel fueling solution, which was released in 2019. Thunder Creek’s MTU 920 has capacity for 920 gallons of diesel fuel and leverages a series of 115-gallon fuel tanks connected through a common manifold mounted to the body of a Ford F550 truck body. The design eliminated the need for Simkin to hire employees with a Commercial Driver’s License or HAZMAT authorization, and provided him with enough volume on a nimble chassis to service his customers around the city.
“We realized that a lot of big fuel trucks that carry 5,000 gallons of diesel cannot even access the certain points where we needed to fill up,” says Simkin. “And we actually got phone calls telling us that with our new solution ‘only you could fit in to this specific area’ because Brooklyn is so tight and everything.
“The big fuel trucks just park, and they just block the whole street," he says. "When we're doing that in front of a construction site, they can't do that. They have other trucks coming in and out. They got dump trucks waiting. With our new fueling truck we can just sneak in there, fill them up and then go on.”
Simkin’s new fueling solution took IZE Rentals from a startup rental company to a partner that could also ensure the uptime of that equipment. A fuel partner that is leveraging more nimble delivery equipment is also able to tackle smaller volumes of fuel. In many cases, a wet hosing service isn’t going to deliver small volumes of fuel in hard-to-reach places. Distributors with smart solutions should be able to reach your equipment anytime, whether it’s easy to access, or not.
“We can show up on a job site, and there's a mini excavator 150 ft. into the job site. You go, you schlep down the hose, you fill him up, it's 11 gallons,” Simkin said of a recent job. “No big fuel truck is going to do that. But with this truck we try to get in and out relatively quick. It's part of the customer service, but it's a service we provide, and other companies are not willing to do that.”
Make Your Time Count
Every minute of downtime on a jobsite translates to money lost. On compact jobsites, that could entail equipment stopped for refueling, but with the domino Thunder Creekeffect of other vendors being forced to wait, or other work being delayed due to a fuel delivery truck blocking the single point of entry.
Across the construction industry, top-performing firms work tirelessly to maximize efficiency and eliminate downtime. The pressure of maintaining that kind of performance is even more important in urban areas where more variables – traffic, pedestrians and unique municipal codes – come into play.
Simkin and IZE Rentals are saving customers time on a variety of fronts. First is the actual pumping speed of fuel. When on-site, Simkin’s team can pump 30 gallons of diesel per minute, meaning an average excavator can be filled in two minutes, a 100-gallon generator in less than four minutes.
“Sometimes in a day you could have a hundred trucks waiting to get onto a jobsite, and each truck is costing the customer $1,000,” says Simkin. “A construction owner can't just stop his whole operation because he's getting a fuel delivery. So, we go around the trucks, and we fit into the job site somehow, and we fill them up. And we could be in and out of a jobsite in 15 minutes where if you had a full-size fuel truck, it would be an hour situation.”
Simkin’s solution also saves time for him and his human resources department. Since his Thunder Creek MTU does not require the driver to have a CDL or HAZMAT, IZE Rentals is able to hire reliable employees with clean driving records to operate the vehicle, saving them time and the cost of a more expensive driver with higher certifications.
“That's very important because in New York City to hire CDL drivers is hard enough,” says Simkin. “Everybody’s looking for CDL drivers, and then the HAZMAT is just another stage on top of that that’s hard to find. If one of our drivers is sick, then I’ll hop into the truck and fulfill the deliveries.”
Luke Van Wyk is the vice president of sales for Thunder Creek Equipment, a manufacturer of fuel transportation solutions for industries utilizing heavy equipment.