Suez North America is an environmentally friendly water utilities company, providing water and wastewater services as well as recycling and waste recovery services to almost 8 million people in North America. Known for placing sustainable environmental practices at the forefront of its operations, Suez employs innovative strategies to shrink their environmental footprint. The corporate headquarters for Suez’s North American operations are found in Paramus, New Jersey. In Northern New Jersey alone, Suez serves 800,000 people with clean, sustainable water, while preserving the local waterways.
Bruce Ottogalli, Transportation Manager, oversees Suez North America’s fleet in New Jersey and New York. As the company’s only Transportation Manager, he is responsible for maintaining, servicing, and updating the fleet’s work trucks—an integral part of Suez’s operations. “As a sustainable company, the biggest thing for us is to have a limited environmental footprint with the vehicles, curb our carbon footprint, and go green,” says Bruce. “We’re limited in our area as we can’t use propane or natural gas, because the suburban areas we serve don’t have that kind of fuel to fill our trucks.” Because the fleet’s vehicles had to be powered by diesel or gas, Ottogalli had to find other ways to follow the company’s green mandate.
Spec’ing trucks for an environmentally friendly fleet
Suez replaces their fleet trucks every ten years, and in 2016 the fleet was due for an upgrade. Keeping the green mandate in mind, Ottogalli had some specific requests for his truck suppliers:
First, the truck bodies had to be aluminum—this would allow the rear body of the truck be recycled when it was no longer being used in the fleet. The chosen upfitters, Jersey Truck Equipment and Auto Truck, were supplied the cab chassis from Ford, and the aluminum truck bodies from Reading Truck Bodies.
Second, the vehicles needed to be lighter than the previous trucks for better fuel economy. “We replaced most of the F650s with new F650s, but we also replaced three F650s with F550s, to allow our trucks to get around better in the tighter streets of some of the cities we work in,” notes Bruce.
Third, the new trucks had to be equipped with anti-idling devices—this fuel-saving technology has been installed on all new Suez vehicles since 2016. The LGS Group supplied Suez with the Ecostar System by Intermotive Vehicle Controls, which were installed on the vehicles in Suez’s own shop.
With the truck updates came equipment updates too. Suez trucks are equipped with air compressors, as the crew uses air tools to make repairs to water mains. “Jackhammers are required to break pavement for us to access the water mains, while other air tools are used to blow away material near the water main and complete the repairs,” explains Bruce.
With this fleet upgrade, Bruce Ottogalli took the opportunity to speak with the crew to find out what was on their wish list. The crew’s number one request was to have more space on their trucks. To free up space, Ottogalli sought to replace their current bulky, 1,000 lb diesel driven air compressors with something more compact and lightweight. Ottogalli recalled learning about VMAC air compressors at NTEA’s The Work Truck Show several years ago in 2013 and thought an engine-mounted air compressor would solve the space and weight challenges. As VMAC dealers, Jersey Truck Equipment and Auto Truck were able to outfit the trucks with UNDERHOOD™ 150 Air Compressors.
The UNDERHOOD™ 150 Air Compressor is powerful enough to power one jackhammer and complete the necessary jobs. “We get air on demand, and it puts out the air that we need. For our application it’s well worth it,” says Bruce.
A more sustainable fleet
Between January and October 2017, Suez was supplied with Ford F650 and F550 trucks and equipped them with UNDERHOOD™ 150 Air Compressors. In total, these changes resulted in thousands of pounds of weight savings. “With the aluminum body and VMAC we dropped 3,200 lbs from the curb weight of the F650,” says Bruce. The UNDERHOOD™ 150 Air Compressors weigh just 200 lbs compared to the 1,000 lbs the previous compressors weighed. The placement of the UNDERHOOD™ air compressor also achieved the crew’s goal to have more space freed up on the truck—there’s now about 3 extra feet of storage available in the back of the truck.
It pays to go green
Suez’s grand weight reduction of thousands of pounds, coupled with the vehicle driven air compressor, and anti-idling devices create the perfect combination for maximum fuel savings, leading to some notable improvements to the department’s bottom line.
After less than a year of having the fleet fully upgraded, Suez had already seen big payoffs, with almost $20,000 in fuel savings.
The new trucks run on gas instead of diesel, and the new UNDERHOOD™ 150 air compressors run off the truck engine, instead of requiring additional diesel fuel to run. Overall about 8,000 gallons of fuel has been saved, and it hasn’t even been a full year with the new fleet. “Besides saving almost $20,000 dollars in such a short time, we’ve also reduced our carbon footprint by about 155,000 lb,” says Bruce.
Environmentally friendly options from VMAC
Known for being lightweight and compact, each of VMAC’s air compressors are significantly lighter than many competitive compressors. In Suez’s case, VMAC was 800 lbs lighter than their diesel driven compressors. But in addition to being lightweight, VMAC also has its own kind of anti-idling technology, which is present in various air compressors. This proprietary technology automatically idles the truck or compressor’s engine up and down with air demand, and turns the engine off and on with air demand, limiting engine idling. VMAC air compressors are an attractive option for utilities and public works companies, as well as government fleets due to their green technology.
The future is eco-friendly
Suez’s innovative and eco-friendly business practices can serve as an inspiration to other companies looking to limit their mark on the environment, and, as a bonus, save money. But it’s only possible with forward-thinking and creative individuals, like Bruce Ottogalli, who was empowered to make substantial changes to his fleet, from changing to aluminum bodies, to choosing UNDERHOOD™ air compressors. “It’s great to report the fuel and cost savings year over year since making these changes to the fleet,” says Bruce. “It’s rewarding to see that we continue to reduce our environmental impact, and its great motivation to continue finding new ways to keep innovating.”