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Bibby Distribution LPG vehicles cut cost and carbon for Unipart Rail

Published 23 May 2014

Bibby Distribution has converted five MAN tractor units to dual fuel LPG for Unipart Rail, which will save up to £200,000 of fuel and cut CO ₂ emissions by 10 per cent over the next five years.

The two firms have worked together since 1998, with Bibby Distribution operating 30 vehicles for Unipart Rail, some of which run in excess of 200,000 km a year. The switch to LPG is expected to take over 66 tonnes of CO 2 out of Unipart's vehicle operations. With fuel bills accounting for around 30 per cent of the overall contract cost, the move will also significantly slash operating expenses.

Duane Trower, Logistics Operations Director at Unipart Rail said: "Fuel usage comes with both financial and environmental costs, so we were delighted when Bibby Distribution proposed a solution that would help cut both without compromising on service. We're already seeing substantial savings both in terms of cash and carbon emissions and we'll be breaking even on the investment in less than 18 months."

The five MAN TGS 26.440 LS units were converted to use both diesel and LPG by G-Volution at a cost of £8,500 per vehicle. The conversion consists of fitting an additional LPG tank that is typically one-third of the size of the diesel tank. An onboard computerised optimiser then analyses the engine output requirements during a journey and sources fuel from either tank as required.

To support the vehicles, Bibby Distribution also installed an LPG tank at the vehicles' home depot in Doncaster, allowing quick and easy refuelling as the units return to the hub each day after delivering refurbished train bogies across the country.

Given the vehicles are double-shifted and clocking up thousands of miles a year, they were considered ideal candidates to deliver a quick payback. With LPG costing around £0.50 per litre compared to £1.07 per litre for bulk diesel, it is estimated that the payback period is around 14 months with a minimum saving of £29,000 per vehicle over a five year lifespan - although changes to fuel prices could see this extend to as much as £40,000 each.

Robert Earl, Contract Manager at Bibby Distribution, says: "Escalating costs and cutting emissions are continual challenges for 3PLs, but dual fuel vehicles are a genuine long-term solution that will support customers, and LPG is more than suitable for green band driving. Through these vehicles, we're keeping Unipart Rail - and by extension the rest of the country - on the move at a lower cost to the client, and a lower cost to the environment."

Based in South Yorkshire, Unipart Rail is a major supplier of train components in the UK. The privately owned company also specialises in the refurbishment of train bogies from its Doncaster site. The company supplies spare parts to over 90 UK depots on a daily basis which is a unique service provided to its customers. Bibby Distribution provides out-based distribution services for Unipart Rail with vehicles based at Avonmouth, Hoddesdon and Glasgow to service local regions.

For Unipart Rail, this also supports their commitment to Network Rail's Sustainability Charter:

Reduce operational CO 2 emissions; improve the energy efficiency of products and services. Promote energy-efficient transportation.

1. Champion the use of alternative material specification and technology to reduce embodied CO 2

2. Commit to designing more operational efficient assets over the whole life cycle (demand)

3. Design in the use of alternative energy sources in the operation of the railway (supply)

4. Reduce CO 2 from construction activities generated over the contract programme

The introduction of LPG duel fuel vehicles marks one of the latest fuel-saving initiatives undertaken by Bibby Distribution. In July 2013 the company announced that its ongoing efforts to minimise the impact of its operations on the environment through investment in new assets and advanced driver training had reduced total diesel consumption by two per cent. In January 2014 Bibby Distribution also began taking delivery of the first of 175 new Mercedes-Benz Euro VI trucks, each meeting the stringent new emissions legislation.

Source: Company Press Release