Ask the Experts: The Future of Propane
Exploring industry innovation.
NPGA takes a closer look at propane innovation through the eyes of industry experts. For this series we interview industry leaders to learn about how propane is innovating for the future.
Denis Gagne is the Senior Vice President of Supply and Acquisitions at Eastern Propane & Oil and the chairman of NPGA. He is a fifty-year veteran of the propane industry with experience in almost every facet of the business. We asked Denis about recent industry changes and innovative technology that’s impacting the supply chain of propane.
Q: What are some of the changes you’ve seen in the supply chain that have improved the propane industry’s role in CO2 reduction in the last few years?
A: More and more fleets are starting to convert over to propane to run their vehicles, which is definitely going to lower the greenhouse gas effect and lower the carbon footprint. The technology in the equipment has grown tremendously. It is on top of the list as far as having the lowest amounts of carbon emissions NOx. So, it’s a combination of movement towards replacing some of the diesel and gasoline vehicles with propane and also improvements in appliance efficiencies.
Q: What is one of the most significant technological or innovative advancements that has improved the supply chain?
A: I would say from a technology point of view, the service scheduling, the delivery logistics, and most importantly, the delivery scheduling along with tank monitoring has led to much greater efficiency in deliveries. That is the key, delivering more gallons with less vehicles, driving less miles with less manpower. The best way to do this is through a tank monitoring program, especially for specific customers, that tells your back office, “Oh, by the way, this tank is now down to 20%, time to go refill it.”
Q: What technology do you use for your supply chain management?
A: I’m proud to say that I work for a company that uses a lot of innovative technology. We put in an operating system ten years ago called Oracle JDE Enterprise. Eastern Propane and Oil went to a proprietary system because we wanted a fully integrated database and that we could pull information in and take information out. We use Oracle’s work time schedule for all of our deliveries, so everything is routed automatically through a degree day system and a back-office system. It’s dynamic and it’s done in real time so as they’re making a delivery, it’s getting downloaded right into our system for processing to invoice the customer.