Pitt Ohio develops LTL carbon calculator

Pitt Ohio is installing solar panels at its terminal in East Windsor, Penn.Pitt Ohio is installing solar panels at its terminal in East Windsor, Penn.

In collaboration with a local university, Pittsburg, Penn.-based Pitt Ohio has developed a carbon calculator for less-than-truckload operations. The effort began about 1.5 years ago and took about three months to create.

Pitt Ohio, which operates more than 1,100 power unites and 21 terminals in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest region, is now leveraging data from its PeopleNet onboard computing system and fueling systems to gather miles and gallons. The calculator also uses company-wide inputs from utility bills, airline and business travel, among other areas.

By combining the carbon calculator with information in its costing system, Pitt Ohio is able to calculate not only its total carbon output but the amount of carbon per shipment and custom reports for customers. This capability has sparked interest from some customers, especially large multi-national companies.

Recently a customer asked Justine Russo, Pitt Ohio’s manager of market research and business intelligence, what the carbon output would be for shipping with Pitt Ohio.

“That was not something I was expecting,” says Russo, who also leads the steering committee for Pitt Ohio’s sustainability initiatives. Another customer mentioned having a transportation budget and a carbon budget. The customer has to manage both.

Eventually Pitt Ohio plans to put the carbon calculator on its website so that customers can determine their carbon output for shipping with Pitt Ohio. The carrier is now certifying the calculator with public auditors.

The primary use for the calculator is to benchmark it improvements. Pitt Ohio began compiling monthly metrics in December 2011 and backfilled these metrics to January 2011. All throughout 2012, the company was able to monitor its operations each month for year over year improvement.

With its 2012 efforts to improve MPH, combined with energy savings in other areas, Pitt Ohio has been able to achieve a three percent reduction in carbon output even as business has picked up.

The calculator helps Pitt Ohio focus on the most critical items for reducing its carbon output, such as equipment, consolidating shipments, and ways to operate more efficiently. “These are things we would do anyway, but now we can see the results,” Russo says.

As part of its sustainability initiatives, Pitt Ohio is evaluating compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles and electric forklifts. It is currently installing solar panels in its East Windsor terminal. The terminal will be able to supply all of its own energy. Others locations will follow suit.

“When we talk about sustainability, the environmental piece comes first. It is also about tangible savings from a cost point of view. It is really about making sure the business is sustainable in the long term from a financial and community point of view,” Russo says.