NGVConnection Newsletter - November 2014


 


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Upgrading Your Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Facility for NGVs Series
(Part 3 of 5): Lighting and Electrical System

By Marc Burrell, Project Engineer, NGVi 


Perspectives With Bill Higginbotham, President and CEO, ET Environmental
By Robin Skibicki, Marketing Coordinator, NGVi

ET Environmental, an independent design/build firm, focuses on design and construction of alternative fueling infrastructure and maintenance facilities, as well as all areas of the solid waste industry. They are comprised of in-house professional engineers and construction managers, with 14 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada. NGVi recently had the opportunity to speak with Bill Higginbotham, President and CEO of ET Environmental, to learn more.

Can you provide a general background and company history about ET Environmental Corporation?

Founded in 1993, ET Environmental combines clean technologies and traditional engineering practices into innovative design and construction for the environmental and construction industries. We completed our first CNG project in 2004, when clean energy and clean domestic fuel initiatives were just starting to pick up speed.  Since then, we have completed energy-related assignments ranging from facility evaluations and economic feasibility studies to multi-million dollar new construction installations. ET is now a leading design/builder of CNG fueling infrastructure, fueling facilities and CNG vehicle maintenance facilities. ET has blended environmental expertise, construction knowledge, and management systems into an integrated design/build service model.


How did ET Environmental emerge into the natural gas fueling industry?

When the company was founded more than 20 years ago, ET’s primary markets were solid waste transfer stations, recycling centers, landfill gas, and other environmental types of projects.  In 2002, ET ENERGY, a division of ET Environmental, was formed to focus on alternative energy projects.  With both traditional and alternative fueling experience, ET was able to deliver when our largest client made the decision to convert their entire fleet of vehicles nationwide to CNG. We’ve now been in the CNG market for more than 10 years and are serving clients throughout the US and Canada.

Are you primarily a third-party provider, a design/build contractor, or a combination of both?

ET is a design/build contractor. We have
in-house engineering design staff and construction management professionals that take each project from the conceptual stage through final construction completion. Our clients find the single point of contact much easier and more efficient to work with versus hiring and overseeing separate design and construction firms.


What distinguishes ET Environmental’s CNG-related construction management services from its competitors?

ET has always been dedicated to providing the highest level of service to its clients and they truly appreciate it. Our construction management process includes significant opportunities for competitive construction buyout which drives competition in the market and results in better value for our clients. We treat each project as if it were our own. 

What challenges are unique to designing, building and retrofitting CNG fuel stations and vehicle maintenance and repair facilities?
The fact that each project is unique provides the opportunity to deliver a custom suited solution to each client. In addition, the building and fire authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) are usually new to the compliance requirements for CNG projects and will need some education to become more familiar with those requirements and encourage consistent enforcement. The fueling piece is normally a very custom solution specifically tailored to meet the client needs such as fuel demand, time available for fueling, system functionality, redundancy, and budget constraints, just to mention a few. Retrofits for buildings are highly dependent on the existing conditions and therefore are difficult to create a standard compliance solution.


What advice do you give a client planning to open a CNG fueling station or convert their fleet to CNG?

The first step in the process comes long before design begins. At ET, we approach every project with a Master Developer mindset. This involves intense evaluation about what the client is trying to accomplish. We help our clients think through the process in a way that they don’t always know how to do. Questions come up such as what types of trucks will comprise your fleet, where are they coming from, what will their daily routines be, when will the trucks be delivered? 

Once the initial investigation stage has been thoroughly evaluated, the next important step is making sure the CNG fueling facility is sized properly. Equipment needs to reliably meet a fleet’s fueling needs without compromising the ability of the vehicles to be on the road when they need to be. Proper sizing requires calculating how many vehicles need to be fueled, how much fuel is needed for each vehicle, and understanding the vehicle’s operating cycle.  

It’s also critical to understand the supply of natural gas in the area. Is there enough natural gas available through the local pipeline and at what pressure is this gas available? That will determine how much compression is needed. We often find municipal pipeline gas at pressure of between 20 and 100 psi (pounds per square inch). For fueling, natural gas needs to be compressed to 4,500 psi, before it is dispensed at 3,600 psi into vehicle’s on-board storage tanks. When you have lower pipeline pressure, more compression is required. Compression equipment can be a major cost when building CNG fueling facilities. Understanding the area’s gas supply and fleet’s fueling cycle is critical when designing and building a station. ET helps with all of the preliminary investigation and planning for each facility to make sure it is sized properly. The remainder of the design phase completes the client’s ultimate use intent and construction puts it all in place.

What changes and opportunities do you foresee associated with increasing demand for CNG fueling stations?

Compared with diesel fueling, there are still very few natural gas fueling stations around the country. As demand grows and municipalities and private fleets begin to add CNG fueling stations, we find that local officials may not be familiar with code compliance requirements. The learning curve can be a challenge as new stations are developed. Some states, such as California, have implemented a greater number of CNG fueling stations. There, the fire marshals and building officials are better educated on the unique facility requirements.

In other areas, particularly smaller towns that are building their first stations, local officials are sometimes not as well versed. When this is the case, we’ve found it extremely valuable to meet with compliance officials to explain how the technology works. Part of the education also involves addressing safety and providing tours of stations we’ve designed and built at other locations, whenever possible.

You say that more than 90% of your work comes from repeat customers. How does ET Environmental maintain their relationship with those customers?

The team we’ve assembled is the best in this field. We out-service our competition, solve problems quickly, and work as a partner with all of our clients. Technical knowledge and expertise coupled with personal touch customer service has always been the key to our success.

NGV Technician Training is a Long-Term Strategy, Not a One-Time Event

By Kasia McBride, Marketing Manager, NGVi 

Trainining session at NGVAmericaNGVi recently hosted an educational session titled "Training: The Key to Safe, Reliable Vehicle Maintenance” at the North American NGV Conference & Expo in Kansas City. Panelists included corporate training representatives from three of NGVi’s customers: Holly Gerke of Penske Truck Leasing, Donald Coldwell of Volvo/Mack Trucks Academy and John Goralski of FedEx Freight. While each panelist shared their NGV training experiences and challenges, one central theme emerged: NGV technician training is a long-term strategy, not a one-time event. 

As fleets and dealers integrate NGVs into their operation, they recognize that their technicians have never experienced NGVs and that training is essential. Because natural gas is an entirely different fuel (a high-pressure gas as opposed to a liquid) and requires specific safety procedures, technician training is not only a requirement—but a priority.

Panelist Holly Gerke of Penske Truck Leasing admitted that the process of procuring the right training seemed like a daunting task. She noted that it takes time and energy and shouldn't be taken lightly. Holly conducted a Google search and quickly landed on NGVi’s website. Of course, not every training provider that appears in a Google search or an ad is truly qualified and experienced at NGV technician training, and additional criteria must be used to screen potential providers. Because the health and safety of employees and the general public are at stake, training managers like Holly realize it’s worth their time to make sure they select the best provider for the job. 

How do companies like Penske, Volvo/Mack Trucks and FedEx Freight assess training providers? The criteria most frequently cited at the session and mutually emphasized by the panelists included good customer service, accreditation by a legitimate organization and the ability to meet their organizations’ training needs on a long-term basis.

Customer service plays an important role during the training procurement stage because it is the first contact and experience the organization seeking training has with the training company. While looking for the right provider, organizations have many questions. Sometimes finding the right questions to ask is difficult because natural gas is a new concept for them. One of the biggest challenges the session panelists shared was finding a training provider who could give them complete information and honest advice.

Companies often have different training requirements, are in various stages of deploying natural gas vehicles and/or have different types and number of technicians to train. Panelists stressed that it is crucial to find a training provider who will help assess their technician training and certification needs, explain options, help them determine what training is best for them and provide recommendations.

Another important factor cited by the panelists when choosing a training provider is the selection of a reputable provider. Training entities that have been through an accreditation process and an external review are more likely to guarantee their quality and their continuous quality improvement.

The most well-recognized accreditation program for training entities that provide continuing education to working automotive technicians is ASE’s Continuing Automotive Service Education (CASE) Accreditation. Administered by the Automotive Training Managers Council (ATMC) and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), this program is a rigorous accreditation process which reviews training organizations against industry established and endorsed standards for training techniques, student assessment methods, validity of the training material, instructor qualifications, and administrative processes. The session panelists shared that finding a training organization that was ASE CASE accredited was one of the most significant factors that influenced their decision because it guaranteed quality training for their technicians.

Another desired feature discussed at the session was that the training provider should have the ability to fulfill the organization’s long-term training needs. This means that the training provider must be able to not only help organizations determine the right training program for them, and provide continuous guidance, but be flexible enough to provide a wide range of solutions in the long run. All of this should fulfill the organization’s objectives.

Panelists also stressed that NGV training is an ongoing process that requires planning and strategy. An effective NGV training strategy has many aspects, including assigning specific classes to new employees, offering different levels of training for technicians who will be performing different skill levels and refresher courses for seasoned technicians who are renewing certifications.

One thing all panelists had in common is that each is adept at working with training providers to conduct a training needs analysis. Virtually every successful training strategy begins with a needs assessment. During the needs assessment, NGV fleets and dealers must work with their training provider to determine the appropriate level of training that will allow each employee in the operation who will be involved with NGVs to safely perform their jobs. This includes not only different levels of technicians, but also support staff, like service advisors and parts managers.

For example, every technician who works in a shop where natural gas vehicles are present, plus all support personnel require basic NGV safety training. Technicians who will be performing NHTSA required CNG fuel system inspections need both the basic safety training and CNG Fuel System Inspector Training. And, there may or may not be job overlap between CNG fuel system inspectors and the technicians who will be performing NGV maintenance and diagnostics and need that type of training. It may sound complex—but it can be really simple and can help you save money if your training provider is experienced in training needs assessment.

Truly successful fleet and dealer training managers, such as those sharing their experiences during the session, understand that a strategic training plan is key to their success. They consider NGV training to be a key component of their overall NGV deployment program, and they look for training providers who have excellent customer service, legitimate accreditation, and the ability to meet their NGV training needs on a long-term basis.


CNG Fuel Price Report
From Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Report published by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
for DOE's Clean Cities Program

Overall Average Fuel Prices (as of July 2014)

 

Nationwide Average Price for Fuel This Report

Nationwide Average Price for Fuel Last Report

Change in Price This Report vs. Last Report

Units of Measurement

Gasoline (Regular)

$3.70

$3.65

$0.05

per gallon

Diesel

$3.91

$3.97

$0.06

per gallon

CNG

$2.17

$2.15

$0.02

per GGE


NGVs and CNG in the News

Applied LNG Plant for Midlothian, Texas--FleetsandFuels.com


Gain Clean Fuel to Open 5 CNG Stations for C.A.T.
--FleetOwner.com


Chevy’s Natural Gas Hybrid Aims to Ease Minds
--Engineering.com


CNG Facility Fast Forwards Greer's Transportation Revolution
--GreerToday.com

Trillium CNG Opens First Compressed Natural Gas Station in Monroe, LA--PowerEngineeringInt.com


New Stanton Turnpike Plaza 1st to Offer Compressed Natural Gas
--TribLive.com


Love's Opens CNG Station in Ohio
--NewsOK.com


Redlands to Offer CNG/LNG Fueling Stations in Town
--RedlandsDailyFacts.com

 

 

To read more, click here.


Upcoming Training from NGVi

NGV Technician and Fleet Operations Safety Training

January 13, 2015 | Phoenix, AZ
February 10, 2015
|
Las Vegas, NV


One-day session that teaches you the elements involved in the safe maintenance practices, fueling procedures, and operation of NGVs.

REGISTER>>>


CNG Fuel System Inspector Training

January 14-15, 2015
|
Phoenix, AZ
February 11-12, 2015
|
Las Vegas, NV

Two-day session that provides you with the proper techniques for inspecting CNG fuel systems, including on-board compressed natural gas fuel storage cylinders.


REGISTER>>>


CNG Fueling Station Design Training 

February 3-4, 2015
|
San Leandro, CA

Two-day course that offers the detailed technical information needed to successfully size, design and specify a CNG fueling station.


REGISTER>>>


CNG Fueling Station Operation and Maintenance Training

February 5-6, 2014
|
San Leandro, CA


Two-day session that provides you with the proper techniques for operating and maintaining CNG fueling stations to help avoid oil carryover and water in the natural gas stream.


REGISTER>>>


Heavy-Duty NGV Maintenance
and Diagnostics Training

January 27-29, 2015
|
Long Beach, CA


This intensive three-day training course prepares technicians to understand the operation, maintenance, diagnosis and repair of heavy-duty natural gas vehicles and covers all natural gas heavy-duty manufacturers’ systems, including CNG and LNG, with major emphasis on Cummins ISL G-equipped vehicles.


REGISTER>>>

 



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ATMC


Upcoming Training

 

Level 1: NGV Essentials
and Safety Practices

June 13, 2017
Philadelphia, PA

Level 2: CNG Fuel System
Inspector Training

June 14-15, 2017
Philadelphia, PA

Level 1: NGV Essentials
and Safety Practices

August 15, 2017
Atlanta, GA

Level 2: CNG Fuel System
Inspector Training

August 16-17, 2017
Atlanta, GA

Level 1: NGV Essentials
and Safety Practices

September 12, 2017
Chicago, IL

Level 2: CNG Fuel System
Inspector Training

September 13-14, 2017
Chicago, IL

Register Now »



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About NGVi

Natural Gas Vehicle Institute is North America’s leading provider of training and consulting on natural gas as a transportation fuel.

Our services address the full range of natural gas vehicle and fueling issues, including:

Technical consulting services – Sizing and designing compressed natural gas fueling stations, vehicle assessments and technical assistance for fleets, CNG fueling station troubleshooting, natural gas vehicle maintenance facilities upgrades, liquefied natural gas fleet and fueling management.

Technical training – NGV Essentials and Safety Practices, CNG Fuel System Inspector Training, Heavy-Duty NGV Maintenance and Diagnostics Training, Light-Duty NGV Maintenance and Diagnostics Training, CNG Fueling Station Operation and Maintenance Training, CNG Fueling Station Design Training and CNG/LNG Codes and Standards Training for Fire Marshals and Code Officials.

 

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