Delivering a Cleaner Form of Care

 

Company: Wright & Filippis
Industry: Home Medical Equipment Provider
Location: Rochester Hills, Mich.
Vehicles: 
  • 2011 Ford E-350 cargo vans (4)
  • 2011 Ford E-450 cutaway vans (4)
Fueling:  1,000-gallon on-site propane autogas fueling station
Challenge: To provide an economically feasible and environmentally conscious alternative fuel fleet vehicle.
By The Numbers:
  • 48,000 fewer gallons of gasoline burned by switching to propane autogas.
  • 931,200 pounds of carbon dioxide eliminated from Wright & Filippis’ carbon footprint each year.
  • $3,000 per vehicle, per year savings equaling $36,000 total for 12 propane autogas vehicles.
  • Immediate return on investment due to grant funding provided for retrofit.

Believing “First to Serve, First to Care” is the only way to do business, Wright & Filippis, the nation’s largest family-owned home medical equipment distributor, has brought clean technology to Detroit with ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas powered fleet vehicles.

“When your health and life are at stake, nothing should stand in the way of reliable care – especially not transportation,” said Joe Thompson, president of ROUSH CleanTech. “We are incredibly pleased to see Wright & Filippis trusting ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas vehicles for their dedicated delivery routes.”

Late in 2010, Wright & Filippis’ fleet management team was approved to purchase 12 propane autogas cargo and cutaway vans through a grant with the Ann Arbor Clean Cities program. As of August 2011, eight of the anticipated 12 ROUSH CleanTech 2011 propane autogas vehicles — four Ford E-350 extended cargo vans and four Ford E-350 cutaway vans — have been deployed, and are proving to show tremendous progress in reducing the company’s carbon footprint. Additional vehicles will be on the road before the end of 2011.

“Our experience so far has been very positive,” said Tom Hopkins, department head of logistics for Wright & Filippis. “The vehicles are performing very well, we are seeing real fuel savings and the transition has been quite easy. I couldn’t be happier with our project at this point. Because of this, we have already expanded the scope of our year-one project to include three additional propane autogas vehicles for a total of 15 in 2011.”

With more than 25 percent of the company’s fleet soon running on propane autogas, Wright & Filippis is showing its peers that this green fuel is reliable, sustainable, and makes perfect financial sense.

Founded in 1944 in Detroit, Wright & Filippis provides home medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, respiratory services, and medical supplies to those who cannot leave their home. Caring for people is number one for all team members, and that includes doing their part for a cleaner environment. Finding a viable way to serve patients while minimizing the impact on the environment has proven an important mission for Wright & Filippis executives.

“We feel strongly that propane autogas is a practical and proven solution in reducing our operating costs and becoming more eco-friendly,” said Hopkins. “Large fleets outside of our industry like Schwann’s have been running propane-powered vehicles since the 70’s. It is sustainable technology that works. Currently, there are also great government incentives and grant funding opportunities to assist with the incremental cost of conversion. I would encourage any home medical equipment owner, or any other owner that operates a fleet, to take a look at the propane autogas solutions that are out there today. I think they will find that this is a very cost-effective solution available that make sense for their fleets as well.”

The Need for Change

The company’s commitment to improving the lives of others keeps its fleet on the road for more than 975,000 miles annually. The company was concerned about the carbon footprint they were leaving behind with every delivery. Tom Hopkins recognized the impact that switching to an alternative fuel could make on the environment and put significant research into choosing the right alternative fuel vehicle for the company.

“We have actually considered the transition to propane for quite some time, but could not find the right system at the right price point,” shared Hopkins. “I was introduced to the ROUSH CleanTech product and felt that it was the ideal solution for Wright & Filippis.”

Today, Hopkins is breathing easier knowing his fleet will be contributing nearly 933,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide emissions to the air simply by switching over 25 percent of his 50-vehicle fleet to propane autogas, a cleaner-burning fuel with up to 20 percent less nitrogen oxide, up to 60 percent less carbon monoxide, 24 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and fewer particulate emissions when compared to gasoline.

“We are doing the right thing environmentally,” Hopkins added. "Based on our data the propane autogas vehicles are currently producing nearly 100,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide than the gas counterparts on a monthly basis and we are really excited about that. That puts us on track to hit the 1 million pound mark by the end of this calendar year.”

Boosting the Bottom Line

Initially, Hopkins estimated a boost in the company’s bottom line within months of the first vehicle deployment in November 2010. “Our return was almost immediate considering the grant funding we were awarded to complete the conversion to propane,” he said. “From there, we anticipated a little more than $3,000 per vehicle per year in savings.”

After eight months on the road, Hopkins reports an average savings of approximately $1.20 per gallon before any incentives. “At the high point this year we paid about $2.50 per gallon for propane autogas compared to $4.09 per gallon for gasoline that same month,” he shared.

To boost savings even further, Wright & Filippis partnered with Ferrellgas to install an on-site 1,000-gallon refueling station in late December 2010. The cost of the station was approximately $8,000, which was offset by grant funding made available through the Clean Energy Coalition as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The fueling site is the final piece in creating an environmentally sustainable fleet of service vehicles doing their part to keep people in the Detroit area healthy for generations to come.

The fueling site “was fully operational as of January 5, 2011, and our technicians really appreciate the fact that they do not have to go out of their way or wait in lines to refuel,” Hopkins explained. “We are seeing a tremendous return on investment from this project. There currently is a $0.50 per gallon tax credit on propane autogas that we dispense from our refueling station. With the tax credit included we stand to save nearly $40,000 in fuel cost this year.”

Additionally, Hopkins’ maintenance team has been taking samples of oil changes since the beginning for analysis and monitoring the viscosity breakdown of the engine oil. The team is seeing extremely positive results from the samples pulled and is currently in the process of redefining some of their maintenance parameters because of these results. Hopkins estimates these changes will drive down some of the annual maintenance cost per vehicle.

Reliability, Sustainability, and Commitment

Hopkins was impressed with ROUSH CleanTech’s pledge toward helping companies save money without sacrificing vehicle performance or range. Learning that propane autogas vehicles have the longest driving range of any alternative fuel and that ROUSH CleanTech vehicles are developed to maintain all horsepower, torque, and towing capacity ratings sealed the deal for executives at Wright & Filippis.

An internal survey of the Wright & Filippis employees driving the ROUSH CleanTech propane autogas vans confirmed the ‘green-powered’ vans perform well, run smooth and are no different than driving a gasoline counterpart. “There is really no difference between the two; the propane autogas trucks run well,” said technician James Purty, who drives one of the E-350 cutaway vans. Technician Jimmy Stamps reports that his propane autogas van is “no different than driving a gas-fueled vehicle, and I really like that I don’t have to go to the gas station anymore.”

With these vans backed by Ford’s reputation for dependability and the same Ford factory performance characteristics, warranty coverage, and serviceability, Wright & Filippis’ transportation team will see fewer down hours due to breakdowns and maintenance issues. Their commitment to propane autogas is as strong as their commitment to their customers.

Since making the switch to propane, Tom Hopkins has spoken to many fleet managers and business owners about his experience with propane autogas and ROUSH CleanTech. “My message is consistent. ROUSH CleanTech has a great product that performs very well, and it provides a very quick return on the investment. The company’s team of professionals is very easy to work with and very customer focused.”

Hopkins encourages those that manage a vehicle fleet to reach out to ROUSH CleanTech and ask for a demo to see for themselves just how impressively these vehicles perform.

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