Fleets Find Performance & Sustainability Benefits with Biobased Grease

Bradley Keith is one of many DC Water employees who benefits from easy-to-apply and high-performing soy-biobased fifth-wheel grease.

A soy-biobased fifth-wheel grease is lubricating a Midwestern grocer’s fleet of 81 tractor-trailers and equipment in Washington D.C.’s water utility’s fleet, helping them both meet sustainability goals without sacrificing performance or cost.

The fleets report that the grease is easy to apply and it stays on, which keeps equipment and grounds cleaner. Its pleasant odor is a plus for workers too.

“I’m very impressed with the biobased fifth-wheel grease,” said Mark Wyrick, director of fleet management for Fareway Stores, Inc.  “It’s comparable in performance and cost to the petroleum-based product we had been using.”

Shop Foreman Scott Lowe reports that the biobased grease sticks to the fifth-wheel in the rain, unlike the traditional petroleum-based grease.  “It’s a very good product,” he adds.

Fifth-wheel grease lubricates the coupling that attaches the semi-trailer to the tractor unit.  The fifth-wheel requires constant lubrication to avoid damage to the top plate, locking mechanism and trailer kingpin as well as to avoid irregular wear of the steer tires.  Fifth-wheel grease is also used on some pickups that tow and other sliding surfaces such as marine push plates.

Wyrick received a sample of the grease from the product manufacturer in the fall of 2018.  His fleet maintenance team immediately put it into service and liked what they saw. Since then, they have purchased the product for continued use in their delivery fleet and are exploring additional soy-biobased products for their fleet operation.

DC Water reports similar success with the product after the United Soybean Board (USB) introduced them to it.  According to Bradley Keith, with DC Water’s fleet management division, the biobased grease exceeded his expectations.

“We used the product to lubricate the fifth-wheel on two trailers and one tractor, Keith explained.  “It works much better than the product we had been using because it has superior adhesion, is easy to apply and has a pleasant odor.  Because of the improved adhesion, the area around the fifth-wheel also stays cleaner.  We no longer have an issue with the grease dropping off and leaving a mess on the chassis or frame.  It stays where we put it.”

“Finding a high quality fifth-wheel grease that will protect valuable equipment is vital in fleet operations,” said Tim Fitzgerald, DC Water’s Fleet Director who manages 620 vehicles.  “My team reports that this biobased grease not only does the job, but does it better than the petroleum-based grease we had been using.  This is one more biobased product that we plan to add to our arsenal of high-performing, sustainable fleet maintenance products. We are also glad to find another soy-based product that helps our employees thanks to its pleasing odor.”

Iowa-based Natural Soy Products manufactures the fifth-wheel grease.  It contains 67 percent soy oil, displacing the petroleum found in traditional fifth-wheel grease.  According to the company, the average over-the-road semi tractor-trailer uses about 20 pounds of fifth-wheel grease in a year. With about 2 million semis rolling across America’s highways, they alone represent an estimated 40 million pounds of fifth-wheel grease use each year.  This grease is also recognized as a qualified product in the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred program. USDA assists federal government agencies to increase their purchase and use of biobased products. Natural Soy Product’s fifth-wheel grease could be a biobased solution for use on federal agency equipment and in fleet operations.

“When you replace the petroleum in the grease with soybean oil, you’re talking about the potential for a lot of soybeans, given the vast use of fifth-wheel grease,” said Joe Barber, president & CEO of Natural Soy Products. “Our grease is high-performing, easy to use and better for the environment and workers.”

For the team at Fareway Stores, Inc., a family owned business with Iowa roots, supporting farmers and the local economy is also a top priority.

“Being from Iowa, we are interested in supporting the local farmers who grow soybeans and choosing products that are better for the environment,” Wyrick added. “This product fits the bill.”

DC Water

DC Water distributes drinking water and collects and treats wastewater for more than 672,000 residents and 17.8 million annual visitors in the District of Columbia. DC Water also provides wholesale wastewater treatment services for 1.6 million people in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, and Fairfax and Loudoun counties in Virginia.

DC Water is a sustainability leader and the fleet division currently uses a number of other soy-biobased products and biodiesel fuel.  This video shares more about DC Water’s success with biobased products.

To read more about DC Water’s success with biobased, click here. 

Fareway Stores, Inc.

Fareway is a growing Midwest grocery company currently operating 124 stores in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota.  It is a top-10 employer in Iowa, with more than 12,000 employees in a five-state region.

Natural Soy Products

Natural Soy Products purchases most of their soybean oil for the grease from Northern Iowa Grain Processors, LLC in Riceville, IA, further adding to the local economy. To learn more about the fifth-wheel grease and other soy-biobased alternatives, click here.

To download a copy of this success story, click here.

This case study is provided for information only. The United Soybean Board does not endorse, promote or make any representations regarding any specific suppliers mentioned herein.