Thursday, 26 August 2010 17:58

LKQ is Fueling Smarter to Expand its "State of Greenness"

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LKQ operates from nearly 300 facilities nationwide and surpassed $2 billion revenue in 2009. It’s an enormous company that could potentially burn many unneccesary thousands of dollars on fuel and electricity every month. But, by staying ahead of the game in its pursuit of ultimate greenness and sustainability in parts recycling, LKQ has quickly become a leader in re-using, remanufacturing and recycling everything it can while using fewer of the world’s natural resources in the process.

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LKQ is a recognized leader in recycled auto parts and uses environmentally friendly business practices and while recycling 492,000 vehicles last year. That is equivalent to recycling about 540,000 tons of steel, 47,000 tons of aluminum, and 13,000 tons of copper, according to the company’s web site. Through its operations, LKQ helped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 890,000 tons, which is about the same as the annual emissions of a city of about 82,200 people.

“In addition, LKQ recently partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to give its customers and anyone else interested in helping the environment an additional way to be green in the company’s LKQ Get Green promotion, which ran from April 22 to June 30 of this year. Together with its customers, LKQ was able to plant a forest at the conclusion of the program.”

Paul Shaw is LKQ’s Central Region Vice-President, overseeing Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, Western Iowa, Western and Southern Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Northern and Western Louisiana.

 

Autobody News recently talked at length with him about the latest developments in his region. One of his responsibilities is to see LKQ and Keystone become greener, as part of an ongoing, proactive journey for the world’s number one auto parts recycler.

Shaw’s job is a huge undertaking as he oversees 34 LKQ and Keystone recycling salvage yard locations, two wheel plants and six bumper recycling facilities. More than $300 million in annual sales comes out of his region, making it a significant part of the overall LKQ picture, which consists of nearly 300 facilities nationwide.

In the newest facility in Houston, Shaw oversees a mega-warehouse that acts as an LKQ aftermarket facility, a bumper manufacturing facility and a full recycling facility all under one roof.

ABN: Fuel conservation is an obvious step to improve greenness. What are you doing to make your trucks more fuel-efficient overall?

Shaw: The first thing we do is update our fleet regularly. A majority of our newer trucks are equipped with idle shutdowns, depending on each state’s requirements.

For example, in Texas we have laws that only allow 10–15 minutes of idle time. Cutting down on idle time can save a good deal of fuel while benefiting the environment. Texas is starting to implement many of the laws that have been in effect in California for years, so that helps us to stay on top of things and keep things in perspective. We also mandate our employees, even in areas where we do not have those laws, that they shut up their vehicles. We started implementing that several years ago when fuel went up to $3–4 per gallon. That can really start to sting when you consider how much fuel we use as a company.

One way we are trying to be more fuel-efficient is by re-using fuel on the Keystone side. We re-use all of the fuel that we pull from recycled vehicles and use it at many of our locations.

This has been very cost effective for us and in some cases has provided enough recycled fuel to supply the entire fleet in certain markets. We feel that if we can run on free (recycled fuel), we will obviously go that route because it not only benefits our company, but also the environment.

ABN: What other methods are you using with your vehicles to save fuel?

Shaw: We changed all of our forklifts to electric, and all of the new forklifts we put into our newest facilities are all-electric. We also buy gas-powered forklifts where we can, so that we can re-use our recycled gas in those forklifts while saving propane. We’re also always updating our older vehicles to get better mileage. A lot of our old box trucks didn’t have the proper wind deflectors on the front, so we added those to many of the old trucks. Then, we started analyzing gear ratios on many of our semis and the drive trains they use. You can change out the ratio of a semi and save $20,000–30,000 annually in fuel just by altering the ratio of a tractor trailer.

ABN: Have you altered your distribution strategies over the years to save more fuel that way?

Shaw: We are constantly looking at our truck routes to save on fuel and to cut back on our trucks crossing paths. We started doing this several years back when fuel prices were sky high. It made us stop and take a long look at our truck routes. We put a GPS system on each truck for a week at a time to map out each route. We then compiled the data to show the most cost effective routes and to ensure that our trucks were not crossing paths when they did not need to. The next step we took was to combine LKQ and Keystone routes where it made sense. With the information from the GPS and the combination of LKQ and Keystone routes, we were able to change 60% of our routes to be more cost effective and fuel efficient in Dallas alone. Our ultimate goal is to not have more than one truck going to the same location.

ABN: Adaptability and constant change seems to be the norm in pursuing the newest technologies to achieve complete greenness.

Shaw: Absolutely. Technology is a rapidly evolving industry. What we did last year is already outdated today. My regional managers meet often to discuss the changes in technology and ways to make our region more green. By staying on top of the newest technology advances, we can use that to our advantage to benefit our company and the environment as a hole. One of our most recent advances is the opening of our first green warehouse in Wichita, Kansas. Some of our cost effective areas of that warehouse include the heating system, skylights, motion sensor T5 lights, and the ventilation system. The energy costs associated with this warehouse are exceptional.

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