Waste Oil Heating: Many Shop Owners Still Don't Get It
Motor Service, Feb, 2001 by Jocelyn Park
It's been a blustery winter. If you don't believe me, ask my car. Along with the many others out there hit by snowstorms, I couldn't find my car for a couple days, and when I did, well, let's just say I wasn't happy.
Or, you might also want to ask your technicians, who, no doubt, like to keep just as warm as you, especially while working. Waste oil heaters solve many problems: they heat your work space, help the environment by recycling used oil, and save money on heating costs.
"Bottom line, the product is designed to save money," says Bill Forbes, marketing manager for Lanair. He explains that the savings aren't just on heating bills, but also on disposal costs and other not-so-obvious places. "Not only [are you getting] a return on investment from a tangible standpoint, but also an intangible standpoint-employee productivity," he says.
Morris Mantey, director of marketing for Clean Burn, pointed out by burning used oil on-site, you're also saving yourself the many problems that come with using an outside source for pick up. "No matter who picks the oil up, you as the generator are responsible for it," he said. He added that accidents after pick up or incompetent companies can easily become your problem, even if the oil is out of your hands.
From vaporization technology to today's more common atomizing technology, waste oil heaters have seen dramatic improvements since the mid-1980s. Still, Ron Watson, director of public relations for the Used Oil Management Association (UOMA), sees a need for more education and product-awareness. "We're really amazed at the number of people who are unaware of this technology," he says. Whether it's a complete lack of knowledge on waste oil heater technology or a misconception that the older, vaporization models are the only kinds available, Watson said many are not taking advantage of current waste oil technology. "The opportunity for free heat is probably right in your backyard," he says, whether recycling used oil generated on-site or collecting it from DIYers. Watson adds, "It's a free source of fuel and a quick payback." He said the newer models are especially efficient, requiring less maintenance than their older counterparts and that they pay for themselves within about two years.
Mantey finds little room for argument as far as waste oil heaters being a good investment. He sees the reluctance on the part of some shop owners to purchase and use waste oil heaters stemming from an "if it ain't broke..." attitude. But he said when considering waste oil heaters, the rewards are simple. "I doubt seriously there is any other piece of equipment in the shop today that would have a quicker payback than our system," he said.
Though atomizer models require much less maintenance than the vaporization types, Forbes of Lanair still cautioned against putting the equipment up and forgetting about it. "They [shop owners] have to be aware that because of burning dirty fuel, it's not a maintenance-free product." He added that the more knowledge users of waste oil heaters have about the limits and details of the product, and the more they exercise some kind of fuel-management, the more longevity and productivity they'll get out of the product.
As for the future of waste oil heaters, Watson said the key is getting the word out. "We're really still finding many small businesses that are unaware that this technology exists," he tells MS. He adds that some larger companies such as mining and fleet outfits have waste oil heaters, but only a small percentage. Not only does the association want to see new customers, it wants to see current customers buying more units. "The market is wide open to us," he says. Forbes agreed, saying, "There's a definite continuing need for newer customers and newer industries."
Mantey added that the growing cost of energy, coupled with continuing advances in waste oil technology-particularly ease-of-use in operating and maintaining the system-should help the industry's future continue to flourish.
Watson says the idea of waste oil recycling needs to be as common as the idea of recycling newspaper and aluminum cans. This, he believes, is the future of waste oil heating.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Adams Business Media
COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group