Wed, Jan 26th 2011, 13:46by Wayne Petersen
September 27th, 2010 was a big day for Haltermann Products Test and Reference Fuels, North America’s leading manufacturer of test and reference fuels for the automotive industry. The Texan company changed its fuels division identity from Haltermann Products to Haltermann Solutions in order to highlight its total product and service offerings.
“This is a reflection of our recent diversification efforts as we are becoming more than just a test and reference fuel supplier to many of our customers. We provide ‘solutions’ for anyone that has special, unique or demanding fuel requirements. For example, we now sell fuels and propellants for use in the aerospace industry as well as the aviation market, both of which have demanding requirements and unique formulations. The new identity is a reflection of what we offer to the fuels community. We also have a new web address up and running: www.haltermannsolutions.com. I need to point out that our company name, or legal entity, has not changed. We are still a division of Johann Haltermann, Ltd,” said Wayne Petersen, President and General Manager of Haltermann Solutions in an earlier interview to AI.
The Houston, Texas-based Haltermann Solutions has over 50 years of experience in providing solutions to engine and part manufacturers, test laboratories, government entities, companies that manufacture gas and oil additives, and aerospace and aviation companies that require complex gasoline and diesel test fuel. The company does not use a refining process to manufacture specialty fuels. Instead, it procures and blends a variety of refinery streams along with specialty chemical and other hydrocarbon products to achieve the often demanding specifications requested by its customers.
“This blending strategy allows us a tremendous degree of flexibility and agility to meet those complex requirements. It further allows us to achieve superior batch-to-batch repeatability. To best meet our customers’ needs while achieving a high degree of service and agility, we have established a network of manufacturing sites, each having very unique capabilities. We have sites located in both Michigan and Texas. However, this hasn’t always been the case. Until 2007, most of our fuels were produced in Texas at our Channelview facility. At that point, we made a deliberate shift in our manufacturing strategy to develop a much larger footprint in the Michigan area, an ideal location given the close proximity to a majority of our customers. This move has not only resulted in better service but also lower overall freight costs for many of our customers,” says the company.
According to Haltermann Solutions, having multiple sites, each with unique capabilities, has given the company the agility to respond quickly to customer demands. More specifically, the company has three facilities in Michigan. First, it utilizes a terminal where it produces high-volume, inventoried fuels. Haltermann ships primarily using railcars or truck quantities of fuel from this location. A second facility specializes in producing smaller quantity, custom made-to-order fuels. While truck load quantities can be produced and shipped from this location, the more common quantities are drums, totes and pails. There is a third Michigan facility for storage of finished drummed fuels. Similarly in Texas, Haltermann has three sites for its San Antonio based customers and other customers in the region.
“We select the assets needed to manufacture a specific fuel based on customer locale, required volume, fuel type and logistics requirements. It is important to mention our other divisions’ capabilities for custom chemical processing. Their world-class capabilities include large scale distillation and fractional distillation, reactive distillation, fixed-bed hydrogenation, oligomerization, esterfication and transesterfication reactions, aldol condensations and isobutylene reactions. These capabilities allow us to manufacture unique feed stocks in-house, when required,” says the company. In addition, the company also manufactures many solvents such as Acetonitrile, Diacetone Alcohol, Haltanol, Hexylene Glycol, Isopropyl Acetone, Isoproply Alcohol, Methyl Isobutyl Carbinol, Methyl Isobutyl Ketone, and Propylene Glycol Monomethyl Ether Acetate.
Automotive Industries caught up with Wayne Petersen, President and General Manager of Haltermann Solutions and had the opportunity to ask him a few questions.
AI: What are some of the changes made at Haltermann Solutions after the name change?
Petersen: To be honest, change was well underway at Haltermann Solutions before our name changed. We have made significant investments in both people and systems over the past few years to enable us to consistently, reliably and quickly deliver ‘solutions’ for our customers. I think the change to our name is just another step in our journey of what we are trying to be to our customers … more of a total “solutions” provider, whether that solution is a product, technical answer or a service. A change that may not be obvious to our existing customers is our deliberate expansion to serve other test fuel markets. Anyone visiting our new web site, www.haltermannsolutions.com, will notice that we serve many more markets than just “automotive”. While this may be a surprise to many of our customers, there is a great deal of similarity in the process in which test fuels are developed, regardless of the market needing the test fuel. This puts Haltermann in an ideal position to also serve the complexities required by these markets. These unique markets represent a deliberate area of emphasis for our company going forward.
AI: Do you think the new name will help Haltermann carve out an identity for future growth?
Petersen: This is a great question and the answer is absolutely. First, until September 27th when we launched our website, we were, quite frankly hard to find for anyone seeking a supplier for specialty fuels. Our new identity, Haltermann Solutions, and website provide a unique and useful portal for those searching for products of this nature. Unfortunately, there is a European company that has our previous name which complicated the search process and confused our customers. Our new identity addresses this issue. Finally, we have now listed all of the markets we serve, so regardless of their market, customers will see that we can serve their specialty fuel needs.
AI: What gives Haltermann Solutions’ test and reference fuels an edge over competitors?
Petersen: At Haltermann Solutions, we believe we excel in all service areas. First, we have 5o years of specialty fuel formulation experience which is a must for the demanding fuel requirements of our customers. Next, we like to think we are a relational and highly responsive company. When customers call Haltermann Solutions, they won’t disappear into a “black hole”. Whether from sales, customer service or technical service and development, our employees are motivated to provide prompt, personal and responsive service. Finally, we believe our manufacturing agility sets us apart from our competitors. As mentioned earlier, our manufacturing model provides us a great deal of flexibility when responding to our customers’ needs.
AI: Please give us an example of how automotive companies have used your fuels and the experience they have had with Haltermann.
Petersen: Our customers use our fuels in a wide variety of applications, but I will provide one example. Automotive companies need to evaluate their vehicles using fuel that will be representative of the region in which the vehicles will be sold, such as China. Hence, we have been asked to formulate fuels to model fuels from that region. These fuels contain components not used or typically found in North America such as Methanol or MMT. Haltermann has successfully formulated these fuels for our customers so they can complete their comprehensive vehicle testing with confidence.
This is just one of many ways our fuel is used by our customers.
AI: What are the opportunities you see in the transportation sector?
Petersen: I’ll answer this question from a Haltermann perspective. There will continue to be ongoing opportunities in the transportation sector as pressure will continue on OEMs to produce cleaner and more environmentally friendly vehicles using next generation “greener” fuels. By “greener” fuels I am referring to alternative and renewable fuels such as algae biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, bio-butanol and the like. A great deal of this is already mandated in the Renewable Fuel Standard 2 (RFS2). This will require fuel testing on fuels with increasingly higher renewable content. There will also be more stringent standards to reduce NOx, sulfur emission and CO2 for every mile logged by a vehicle. Finally, there will be a need for higher fuel densities.
AI: What are some of the challenges facing your industry and how do you see Haltermann Solutions meeting these challenges?
Petersen: Again, I’ll answer this question from a Haltermann perspective. A significant challenge that has resulted from the resent economic downturn and corporate restructurings is the tremendous pressure for our customers to optimize their R&D processes and the resulting need to accomplish their work with more limited resources. Haltermann Solutions has responded by continuing to look for ways to reduce our manufacturing costs and pass these cost savings back to our customers. For example, we have a fuel, HF0580, utilized by several of our customers. This past year we were able to identify a different asset in which to make this fuel which resulted in a cost savings of over $1.50 per gallon. We passed the entire cost savings back to our customers in the form of a price reduction. We continue to look for these types of savings. We also offer collaborative project research to our customers so that together we can accomplish more. Next, new fuels and fuel mandates will continue to challenge all of us. The fuel that will be available because of new mandates such as E-15 or E-20 may not be able to be used in older model cars. One can imagine the headaches this will cause for the automobile companies. Similar issues may arise due to B-5 and B-20 requirements. Finally, the automotive industry is moving toward higher pressures in common rail diesel engines that will require fuels with cetane levels of 50 and higher. This may not be possible with current petroleum diesel. This may present opportunities for higher cetane blend stocks like hydrogenated vegetable oils that are then cracked to give required C-8 to C-10 fractions. Having said all of this, Haltermann Solutions stands ready to serve our customers in any way we can to supply these new fuel requirements for their testing and evaluations.