Canadian Ski Resort Provides Foothold for Petroleum Hauler
Nov 1, 1997 12:00 PM
SURROUNDED by jagged mountain peaks and pristine rivers, Whistler is a popular year-round resort village in Canada with downhill and cross-country skiing, hiking, rafting, mountain biking, horseback riding, and boating. But it's a less than ideal place to work when your job is delivering gasoline.
Scamp Industries Ltd, headquartered in a suburb southeast of Vancouver, British Columbia, has the job of supplying a retail service station in Whistler with gasoline and other petroleum products that keep automobiles, boats, and recreational vehicles on the go. Husky Oil Company offered the account to Scamp to see if the fledgling for-hire carrier could meet the challenge of on-time deliveries over a 63-mile two-lane highway that claims motorists' lives every year.
Rolf Guenther, senior driver at Scamp Industries and a son-in-law of the company owner, is intimately familiar with the driving conditions of the "Sea to Sky Highway." During several deliveries to Whistler, Guenther stopped to assist motorists who were injured in automobile accidents.
"The road was a goat trail when we started hauling gasoline to the vacation resort," he says. "Even though the route is much wider and includes some passing lanes, about 50 motorists were killed last year between Whistler and Vancouver."
During the two-and-a-half hour trip from Vancouver, Scamp drivers must navigate their rigs over a winding road with narrow switchbacks. The road provides few pullouts for emergency stops. In the winter, the windchill can make temperatures feel as low as minus 70 degrees F.
"Whistler was our toughest account," says Stuart Campbell, company owner and president. "It was a test to see if Scamp could deliver on its promise. We took the challenge and proved ourselves, gaining Husky's confidence year by year and gaining an increasing share of their business."
Today, Scamp is the exclusive carrier for all of Husky's 39 locations in Southern British Columbia. Its success has caught the attention and business of other major companies, including Imperial Oil (Esso), Southland Corporation, and Petro-Canada.
Scamp also is the exclusive carrier for Imperial Oil in Vancouver. The carrier picked up additional business from Petro-Canada after the oil company began eliminating its transportation division a couple of years ago.
Uphill Battle When Stuart Campbell founded Scamp in 1981, the company used one single-axle tankwagon to service Otter Co-op, a regional fuel distributor for Federated Cooperatives Ltd. With 25 years of experience in the petroleum industry, Campbell, his two sons, Jay and Troy, and son-in-law, Mark, slowly and methodically increased the size of the company with additional retail accounts.
Major oil companies, however, showed little interest in a small distributorship. Determined to obtain their business, Scamp developed some aggressive marketing programs.
"The toughest part of this business is getting a chance at the plate to bat," says Jay Campbell, controller. "You have to find an innovative twist with a concrete promise to get business from the major oil companies.
"So you ask potential customers what are their worst headaches and come up with solutions. Retail service stations, for example, don't like split loads or running out of product. Some oil companies will financially penalize a station if product isn't purchased within a certain time frame.
"The key to efficient dispatching is inventory control. We customized an inventory management program that enables customers to enjoy maximum margin opportunities while being guaranteed zero fuel run-outs."
More than 90% of Scamp customers participate in the carrier's Bulk Systems Management (BSM) program. Customers are required to measure product levels at the same time every evening. Dispatchers spend two hours each morning gathering inventory levels from 327 service stations. Scamp is working on a computer system that will automate the process and eliminate the need for phone calls.
Customers in the BSM program are guaranteed $100 for every hour that product is delivered late. So far, Scamp hasn't been required to pay any late fees.
"With the exceptions of certain anomalies, such as price wars or road construction that inhibits access to a station, trends in petroleum sales are pretty consistent," Campbell says. "It doesn't take long for our dispatchers to determine a real variance from an incorrect measurement of inventory levels."
As a family-owned and -operated company, Scamp has a philosophy of family first, company second, says Troy Campbell, personnel manager. This commitment has contributed to an annual driver turnover rate of less than one percent among 30 company drivers.
"Driving is a skill that often is taken for granted," he says. "We made a commitment to have drivers home every night because they are the lifeblood of our business."
Drivers follow a four-days-on and four-days-off schedule. Low driver turnover also can be attributed to a comfortable work environment. Power units are equipped with many driver amenities, including air-ride seats, air-ride cabs, tilt and telescopic steering, CB radios, and AM/FM radios with cassette.
Scamp operates 14 tractor-trailer rigs, most of them eight-axle B-trains. The rigs deliver throughout British Columbia and into the northern part of Washington state, operating out of three terminals. The carrier purchased additional single-axle tankwagons from Otter Co-op for home and farm deliveries.
Kenworth Tractors In 1992, company management decided it was time to replace its aging fleet of class eight tractors. Scamp met with several truck dealers before deciding on Inland Kenworth and its network of 17 dealerships throughout the province.
"Because on-time deliveries are critical in this business, we were impressed with Inland's capabilities to service our vehicles virtually anywhere in British Columbia," says Mark Dirksen, operations manager. "This was a major factor in our decision."
The next decision was how to finance with as little capital outlay as possible. With the company in a growth mode, it was more important than ever for management to protect investment capital. Scamp found the answer with PacLease Langley, a truck rental and leasing affiliate of Inland Kenworth.
For petroleum haulers, the rule of thumb is "the lighter, the better the bottom line," says Murray Fraser, district manager, PacLease Langley. "At the same time, operators require power, durability, and safety for demanding, round-the-clock operations.
"While not designed for all-out weight savings, the Kenworth T800 represents a careful balance of lightweight components, power, and load- handling capacity."
PacLease Langley currently provides Scamp with 15 tractors that range in age from 1994 to 1997 models. Engines have an 800,000-mile warranty. Transmissions and differentials have a 700,000-mile warranty. Tractors are returned to the leasing company after about four years of service and replaced with newer models.
"Banks were agreeable enough to finance our purchase, but we found PacLease to be much more flexible," says Jay Campbell. "PacLease presented several lease packages and options that allowed us to protect our investment capital.
"We have top-notch Kenworth equipment that continues to affect our bottom line positively. We have excellent productivity, durability, and fuel efficiency. Our competition has begun using similarly equipped tractors."
A full-service lease wasn't necessary because Scamp already had mechanics and a maintenance shop. Fraser packaged a lease program that provided vehicles, replacement vehicles, warranty repair, and emergency roadside assistance.
The T800 models are powered by Detroit Diesel Series 60 engines rated for 430/470 horsepower with 1,550 ft-lb of torque at 1200 rpm. Other drivetrain components include 18-speed Fuller RTLO-16718B transmissions and Eaton drive axles with 4.56 ratios. The drive tandem has a 46,000-lb capacity and double interaxle locks for traction control to handle winter driving conditions in British Columbia.
Dual 100-gallon aluminum fuel tanks provide plenty of range. Transports that deliver product to bulk plants with above-ground storage tanks are equipped with Blackmer pumps.
The tractors also have Eaton Extended Service brakes, Gunite automatic slack adjusters, and Carlisle brake linings. Scamp mechanics carefully monitor the condition of brake linings because driver routes include plenty of hills, some of them with eight to nine percent grades. They prefer the Carlisle MB21 blocks because of durability.
Often exceeding 10 hours on the road, drivers who make deliveries from the Kamloops facility in Eastern British Columbia operate T800s equipped with 38-inch AeroCab sleepers for roadside breaks as needed.
Scamp has ordered a 1998 T800 from PacLease that will haul petroleum products from an Arco refinery in Washington state near the Canadian border. Spec'd with a lift axle to comply with Washington's bridge law, the new power unit will pull a four-axle tank trailer built by Advance Engineered Products Ltd. Regulations prohibit the use of lift axles on highways in British Columbia.
The Kenworth tractor has a Detroit Diesel engine rated for 435/500 horsepower with 1,650 ft-lb of torque at 1200 rpm. The Fuller Super 18 transmission is equipped with Top 2, which provides automatic shifting between the top two gears.
The top two gears are .73 and .86 overdrives that allow operators to manage rpms for efficient cruising at highway speeds. Like other Top 2 transmissions, the Super 18 Top 2 was developed in close cooperation with engine OEMs to use the engine's electronic control unit (ECU) to control shifting between the top two gears.
The transmission shift logic resides in the engine ECU. Shift commands from the engine ECU are sent to a transmission-mounted solenoid that activates the splitter shift between ninth and tenth gears.
State-of-the-art equipment also addresses safety concerns. The T800s are spec'd with Kenworth's Cab Corner Windows and Daylite Doors. The additional visibility has reduced right-turn accidents.
Emissions testing hasn't been mandated yet in Canada. Scamp, however, already participates in voluntary testing of its tractors. All electronic and older model engines passed inspection.
Trailers All trailers were manufactured by Advance Engineered Products Ltd, Regina, Saskatchewan. B-train units are spec'd and built as a set. Lead trailers have a capacity of 35,000 liters (9,200 gallons) while pups carry 28,000 liters (7,400 gallons).
Each trailer in a set has three compartments separated by double bulkheads and is built to MC306 standards. Nordic provides the four-inch internal emergency valves and pressure-relief vents. The 20-inch dome lids are from Tiona Betts. Discharge lines are equipped with four-inch Betts Wet-R-Dry butterfly valves. API bottom-loading adapters are by EBW. Scully provides the overfill protection sensors. Newer trailers are equipped with Hendrickson HT230 air-ride suspensions to reduce stress on tank vessels. Ingersoll axles have a 25,000-lb capacity.
Running gear includes Alcoa aluminum wheels, Centrifuse brake drums, and Bridgestone 11R24.5, 14-ply tires. The Bendix brake system has Haldex automatic slack adjusters.
Well-maintained tractors and trailers have contributed significantly to the efficiency of the carrier. Some transports run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The preventive maintenance program requires vehicle inspection every 20,000 kilometers (12,000 miles), or about every five weeks. Under the Commercial Vehicle Safety Inspection rules in Canada, vehicles must be checked every six months unless a company certifies that its fleet has passed an in-house preventive maintenance program.
With every oil change, samples are sent to a commercial laboratory for analysis to provide early detection of excessive engine wear. Tire tread and pressure are recorded every two weeks.
For the past five years, Scamp has tested tires to determine which brands offer the lowest cost per kilometer. This year, manufacturers Hankook and Kumho are testing their tires on the Scamp fleet.
Scamp runs tires with a deeper tread during winter months. Recaps are used no longer because of damage to fenders from tire casings. The company says tire expense has dropped 18% since it eliminated the use of recaps.
With the equipment and maintenance systems that are in place, company management is confident that Scamp will continue to operate some of the safest and most profitable transports on the road.
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