By Tom Kelley
While many beverage fleets favor the concept of “greening” their operations, one Northern California fleet continues to bring that concept to reality. Biagi Bros. Transportation & Warehousing has long been known for providing third-party logistics services to beverage producers in California and throughout the US, but the company is becoming increasingly well-known for being on the leading edge of green fleet operations in the beverage marketplace.
A few years back, Biagi subsidiary Vin Lux Fine Wine Transportation was literally at the head of the line in adopting diesel-electric hybrid technology, taking delivery on the very first Peterbilt hybrid trucks to come off the assembly line.
More recently, Biagi has taken advantage of the State of California’s clean air program grants to replace more than a dozen of its oldest trucks with the newest, state-of-the-art, conventional powertrain trucks. The new trucks are so loaded with green specs that the company has dubbed them “Green Machines,” in special graphics on the hood of each new truck.
As part of the third generation managing the family-owned company, public relations & social media director Stacey Biagi recently organized an open-house event at the company headquarters to celebrate delivery of the Green Machine trucks. Attendees at the event included customers, representatives of state and local governments, as well as the sales team from Coast Counties Peterbilt, Biagi’s key truck supplier.
Having previously served as the company’s fleet manager, Stacey is no stranger to both the community relations and bottom-line benefits of keeping a fleet on the leading edge of environmental technologies. “When you live and work in an area with the natural beauty and bounty of the Napa Valley, it’s important to do all we can to protect the environment,” says Stacey. “Running the most efficient trucks available not only benefits the environment, but also keeps costs low for our customers, and ultimately the end-consumers of Napa Valley’s best wines.”
In her former position, Stacey was the driving force behind the adoption of the Vin Lux division’s hybrid trucks in mid-2008. At that time, Stacey’s key contact at the local Peterbilt dealer was Greg Stumbaugh, who has since joined the Biagi team as corporate equipment director.
While the process of applying for grants to help fund the purchase of the Green Machine trucks can best be described as arduous, the benefits proved to be well worth the effort. Roughly $60,000.00 of the $120,000.00 cost to acquire each Green Machine was offered by the grant program. To obtain the grants, the fleet was required to scrap one pre-2003 truck for each new truck receiving grant funding. “Normally the older trucks would have a trade-in value if not scrapped,” says company co-founder Fred Biagi, “so the net benefit is likely closer to $45,000 per truck.” That’s still quite a worthwhile boost for trucks the company would likely be replacing anyway.
The trucks being replaced in the Biagi fleet were 2002 models, so for its investment, the state gets several substantially cleaner trucks out on the road while permanently retiring the older trucks. The difference between 2002 emission spec’ed trucks and the Green Machine replacements is an approximately ten-fold reduction in both particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxide (NOX), along with a roughly four-fold reduction in non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC).
To put those statistics into perspective, on a bad air-quality day in the Los Angeles Basin, the exhaust coming out of the Green Machine trucks will be cleaner than the ambient air. When looking at actual pollutant gases, the Green Machines are nearly zero-emission vehicles. The exhaust treatment used on the Green Machines is so effective, that engineers can barely detect any pollutant emissions using the best available measurement technology.
The green attributes of the Green Machines go beyond just reducing exhaust emissions. From wide-base tires and aluminum wheels to optimized fuel tank capacity, every effort was made to trim unnecessary weight from the trucks, improving fuel economy and maximizing payload. When a fleet handles the volume that Biagi does, even a modest increase in payload capacity can quickly add up to moving more product with fewer trips.