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Sharing Ideas

Written by Seth Skydel on . Posted in .

Industry events are all about sharing information and ideas and this year’s Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference ( was no exception. Held in June, the annual conference celebrated its 60th anniversary with a mix of networking opportunities and a host of technical sessions that focused on the latest utility fleet management techniques and technologies.

The keynote address at EUFMC this year was delivered by Greg Pruett, senior vice president of corporate affairs for PG&E Corp. and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. In his remarks, Pruett focused in large part on electric vehicles, a subject we continue to follow at UFP as well.

PG&E, which has a long history of incorporating efficient and sustainable transportation technologies, today has more than 3,400 alternative fuel models in its fleet. Included are electric, natural gas and hybrid vehicles. The company is also working with aerial device suppliers to develop and test plug-in battery-powered systems and is deploying extended-range electric trucks, plug-in hybrid material handlers and all-electric service body units. To support these new vehicles, PG&E has installed more than 80 electric vehicle charging stations.

“We have also worked to develop customized lease terms that take into account the life cycle of electric vehicles,” Pruett noted. “We believe that other utilities can take advantage of these opportunities as well. Collectively, when it comes to the electrification of transportation, the utility industry has an incredible opportunity to be a game changer across the U.S.”

Among the topics on the 2013 EUFMC agenda were electric PTOs, a regulatory update, safety, fuel, boom inspections and technology in fleet garages. In addition, roundtable sessions for fleet managers and suppliers covered common challenges and the sharing of best practices.

One presentation at EUFMC that attracted a lot of attention was a report regarding a recently concluded survey on key process indicators (KPI). Mike Allison, director at Duke Energy, provided an overview of results; full details will be available in the future.

The KPI Survey, conducted in April by Utilimarc, is the second annual survey commissioned by EUFMC. In 2012, the conference presented results of its PM Practices & Technician Training Survey. For 2013, the focus was on the measures fleets are using to gauge the effectiveness of their management strategies.

Included were metrics in place to monitor vehicle availability, such as downtime and mean time between repairs, budget compliance, costs, fuel consumption, mechanic time, preventive maintenance, safety and a number of other areas. In each case, survey respondents ranked individual KPIs in different categories and reported on how the metrics help make more effective business decisions.

A new idea introduced at EUFMC that also promotes the sharing of information was the recently unveiled MechanicsQA. Offered by FleetAnswers, the forum allows technicians to “reach out to other fleet mechanics at a job specific level to ask questions and provide answers” in a collaborative setting. The forum, which has been undergoing testing at fleets, will eventually include a searchable database and other capabilities. Access to the free forum is available at

“Fleet is the backbone of our industry,” Pruett told the more than 100 fleet professionals at EUFMC. “We cannot serve our customers without it and in many cases our fleet is the main contact our customers have with us. It’s essential that we field vehicles that are as safe, clean and reliable as the electricity we provide. Your role as leaders is not static. It is rapidly changing and increasingly important.”

For the 2013 EUFMC audience, that message was not a surprise. Founded in 1953, the association has been educating fleet professionals for six decades, proving that there is no better venue for sharing ideas and best practices.

Seth Skydel