UFP Magazine

Kate Wade

BEACON-4-LIFE

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The BEACON-4-LIFE is a safe alternative to the traditional strike flare. It was created by a first responder to provide advanced warning of an emergency scene or work zone using safe, eco-friendly, state-of-the-art LED lighting technology. The tool offers more than 100 hours of battery life and 17 different flashing patterns to help keep personnel safe. https://beacon-4-life.com

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Kate Wade

Dakota Canopy Body

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Dakota Bodies has announced the release of their new utility body for cab chassis and vans. It was developed with multiple applications in mind, including utilities, HVAC/plumbing, telecommunications, electrical and other similar trades.

The enclosed utility body was designed to make the technician’s job easier. The storage compartments provide optimal organizational space and easy access to tools and equipment. It is a mobile workshop that will not only keep your equipment and tools safe but will also keep them protected from damaging weather. The lightweight, aluminum construction option will provide you with dependable durability as well as more payload capacity when compared to steel utility bodies. It will soon be available for numerous cab chassis and van makes and models. www.dakotabodies.com

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

FMCSR Awareness

When analysts look at utilities, and to some extent utility contractors, they often see what’s referred to as “mission creep.” That occurs when the expertise of the utility should be focused on quality and continuity of service but begins to be compromised by focus on too many other areas. The opposite of mission creep is when business elements that are critical to successful progress toward the goal get overlooked because of focus on the goal. One business element that gets less attention than it deserves are big trucks and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). Granted, 75% or more of the FMCSR do not apply to utilities, and many parts that do apply are difficult to implement. Implementation is tough because, even as employers with drivers and big trucks, we are not carriers, which is the target audience of the rules, but we still are regulated by those carrier-related standards. The key areas of compliance for utilities are driver qualification, record of duty status (RODS), safety equipment and load securement. There also are a couple of new initiatives that we should keep an eye on.

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Sean M. Lyden

What’s New in Truck and Van Upfits for 2020?

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The industry’s leading body manufacturers and upfitters in the truck and van sector are developing new products that equip your crews to get more work done in less time and with less strain.

Some companies are incorporating lighter-weight materials in their product designs so that you can increase a truck’s payload without bumping up to a larger vehicle. Others are adding more versatile tool storage options to enhance accessibility and improve ergonomics – to offer a safer work environment for your crews.

So, who are these truck and van equipment providers and what are some of the products and design enhancements they’ve brought to market recently to help you achieve your fleet objectives? Here are eight new developments to watch.

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Sean M. Lyden

Women in Utility Fleet: Mariela Perez

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In 2016, when Mariela Perez and her husband visited the exhibits while attending a national fleet managers conference, very few equipment vendors knew who she was: the head of the fleet department at Duke Energy, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S.

So, you can imagine the awkward surprise for many of those exhibitors.

“My husband also works at Duke, as the general manager of distribution in Florida,” Perez said. “And since many of the attendees bring their spouses, and I wasn’t wearing a Duke shirt, [the vendors] assumed my husband was the fleet manager.”

Sales reps would look past Perez and approach her husband: “What can we do to earn your business?”

“My husband would say, ‘Talk to her,’ pointing to me,” Perez said. “‘Why would we want to talk to your spouse?’ He’s like, ‘Well, because she’s the general manager of the Duke Energy fleet.’”

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Kate Wade

The Work Truck Show Celebrates 20 Years

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The Work Truck Show returns to Indianapolis this year, where it will celebrate two decades of offering vocational truck fleet operators, manufacturers, dealers and equipment distributors an inside look at the latest trucks, vehicle components and equipment – all in one place.

Nearly three times larger now than it was in 2001, the show – produced by NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry – will run March 3-6 at the Indiana Convention Center. Attendees will have access to an exhibit floor that covers more than 500,000 square feet, as well as industry-focused educational sessions and The Work Truck Show Ride-and-Drive. In addition, Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will deliver the keynote address at the NTEA Annual Meeting scheduled for March 5.

More than 100 companies have announced plans to introduce new commercial trucks, bodies and truck equipment at the show, and 26 companies have scheduled press conferences, including seven OEMs: Crane Carrier Co., Ford Commercial Vehicles, Isuzu Commercial Truck of America Inc., Mack Trucks, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Nissan North America and Ram Commercial. Plus, 16 leading commercial vehicle OEMs will discuss what they have planned for 2020 and beyond in chassis update sessions. 

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Grace Suizo

Points to Consider When Transitioning to a Fleet Management Information System

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Using a fleet management information system (FMIS) can help utility fleet managers keep records and generate reports regarding the effective and efficient operation, maintenance, repair and replacement of their fleet assets. UFP recently spoke with two utility fleet managers who shared their experiences of transitioning to an FMIS and what other fleets might expect from the process.

Identify the Necessary Features
Since 2012, Washington Gas – a natural gas service provider headquartered in the District of Columbia – has been utilizing an FMIS for cradle-to-grave oversight of its fleet of more than 1,150 units.

Doing so has provided a “30,000-foot view of the fleet,” according to Michele Davis, fleet manager at the utility.

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Sandy Smith

Spec’ing Service Van Interiors with Safety in Mind

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When it comes to spec’ing service vans, utility fleet managers must consider several factors, including budget, vehicle performance, efficiency, and operator safety and comfort.

Take Alabama Power’s vans, for instance. About half of the 80 units that the company – a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Co. – has on the road are outfitted for general maintenance tasks. The other half are “highly specialized” for meter testing, according to Cody Caver, an engineer in the utility’s fleet services group.

For that group of specialized vans in particular, Caver noted that “the cargo area … becomes a mobile workplace, so the interior must be kept at a reasonable working temperature.” In addition, the cargo area includes fixed windows, rather than panels, so the employee can be aware of their surroundings outside of the vehicle while working.

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Fiona Soltes

Charging Ahead: Integrating Telematics in Electric Vehicles

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Over the last decade, Southern California Edison has worked with a handful of telematics providers. That’s meant plenty of learning opportunities with both traditional and electric vehicles. The utility company’s fleet has roughly 6,300 units; about 10% of those are electrified. And it’s an ongoing challenge to be able to report the data that the company desires.

“The ability of telematics providers to provide data on EVs has increased, but the complexity of EV software and frequency of software updates can leave the telematics providers chasing data,” said Todd Carlson, principal manager for fleet asset management at SCE. “It’s a constant effort to keep providers current with what is offered in the EV space, and there’s generally a lag.”

Randy Scodellaro, technical specialist in telematics at SCE, is tasked with overseeing the telematics hardware performance across the utility’s fleet and providing technical assistance to field personnel for diagnostics and repair, among other things. He likened the transition of a telematics provider from a gas-powered vehicle to a plug-in hybrid or EV to a computer upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 10: It may be more powerful and have better functionality, but more learning will still be required – every time.

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Sean M. Lyden

Leadership Strategies: Creating the Connections that Produce High-Performing Teams

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If you’re like many utility fleet leaders right now, you’re bracing for a significant brain drain in your organization as experienced technicians and other key people in the fleet department get ready to retire in the next few years, with fewer younger workers in the pipeline to take their place.

So, how can you get a leg up when competing for top talent to eventually replace your veteran workers? And how can you create a culture that makes the fleet department – and the company as a whole – a more attractive place for employees to work, learn and grow?

Become a Connector manager.

That’s the big idea from the book “The Connector Manager: Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent – and Others Don’t,” based on a study of about 10,000 managers and employees by the research and advisory firm Gartner Inc.

UFP recently spoke with Sari Wilde, the book’s co-author and managing vice president at Gartner, where she advises executives at hundreds of Fortune 500 companies on their leadership and talent management practices.

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Sean M. Lyden

Shop Talk: Creating Consistency for Dielectric Inspections Across a Global Enterprise

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As a utility fleet professional, you’re well-versed in ANSI’s requirement for annual dielectric inspections on aerial equipment to verify the nonconductivity of electricity through the boom. These inspections help you and your team identify and fix potential issues before they can cause injury or downtime.

But if you have bucket trucks, digger derricks and other aerial equipment spread across several locations and regions, how do you ensure those critical inspections are getting done on time, according to the right standards and at the best possible price?

That’s the challenge John Adkisson confronted in April 2019 when he became the director of fleet services at Asplundh Tree Expert LLC, the Willow Grove, Pennsylvania-based company that provides vegetation management and utility infrastructure services to utilities and municipalities throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

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Sean M. Lyden

Building – and Maintaining – a Strong Professional Network

A common trait I’ve seen in interviewing numerous successful fleet professionals over the years is that they’ve all learned how to cultivate a strong network.

Relationship-building is a critical skill for professional success because you never know when you’ll need to call on someone to help you get out of a jam, make an important connection for you, or expedite delivery of equipment or gear.

And the stronger and bigger your network, the more valuable you’ll become in your career.

But how can you keep in touch with people more efficiently and effectively, without consuming too much of your time or inconveniencing the other person?

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Kate Wade

Polaris Expands Utility Vehicle Line

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The Polaris Pro XD is now gas-powered. With the addition of two new gas models to its Pro XD lineup, Polaris Commercial has broadened the applications where the UTV can be used. Pro XD is built to withstand tough duty cycles and usage on the work site and enhance productivity.

Like the diesel models, the new Pro XD gas models provide seating capacity for up to four individuals, industry-leading payload of up to 2,075 pounds and towing capacity of 2,500 pounds. Designed for work across various off-road and on-road terrains and factory shipped at 26 mph, the gas-powered models are the ideal vehicle for increasing job site capabilities. The new models continue to provide the same best-in-class durability, serviceability and safety features with some additional model updates. https://polaris.com/commercial

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Kate Wade

WEATHER GUARD CabMax Composite Bulkhead

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WEATHER GUARD, an industry leader in truck and van equipment, has announced its new CabMax Composite Bulkhead. Designed to enhance drivers’ comfort and workspace, the single-piece design is strong yet weighs just 55 pounds. The CabMax Composite Bulkhead provides enhanced driver comfort, noise reduction, climate control and customization options.

In commercial vans, bulkheads are crucial to the safety of the user and the functionality of the vehicle. The bulkhead separates the driver from the cargo area, providing protection from shifting loads. In the past, van bulkheads have not been a great platform for mounting van storage components or other accessories, but the new CabMax Composite Bulkhead has transformed it into a usable part of van equipment. The new CabMax Composite Bulkhead has accessory panels that can be placed in 14 different attachment points. The accessory panels are designed to accompany WEATHER GUARD REDZONE accessories but also offer standard threaded inserts to use off-the-shelf attachments.

In addition to the CabMax Composite Bulkhead providing more space for accessories, tools and personal items, it also provides more room for the driver. Because commercial drivers spend a significant amount of their day in their van’s cab, comfort was especially important when designing the WEATHER GUARD CabMax Composite Bulkhead. The new bump-out design allows the driver’s seat to recline up to 35 degrees, the largest driver seat range of motion in the industry. www.weatherguard.com

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Kate Wade

Terex Technical Service and Support Tools

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In 2019, Terex Utilities released or updated more than 50 Tech Tips and service presentations. Some Tech Tips are applicable to specific Terex digger derricks, aerial devices or auger drills, while others address frequently asked questions or common challenges faced by customers. Following are descriptions of just a few of the topics Terex Utilities covered in 2019.

The Hi-Ranger TM Series is a heavy-duty transmission aerial device used by line crews, offering working heights to 125 feet, basket capacities of up to 800 pounds and material-handling capacities of 1,500 pounds. Three of the new Tech Tips released in 2019 provide practical troubleshooting assistance in addition to manuals. Tech Tip #57 explains how to use the manual letdown system; Tech Tip #82 provides guidance on how to set zero on the TM Leveling Controller; and Tech Tip #77 assists in evaluating the cause of top controls not working.

Load Alert, Terex Utilities’ aerial device technology for monitoring jib and platform capacity and boom position, was updated in 2019 with new screen notifications for the operator. Two Tech Tips – #118 and #119 – explain what to do if sensor communication is lost or inaccurate.

Terex’s evolving chassis controller system interfaces between Terex equipment and the OEM chassis computer system for DC pump control, throttle control and remote stop/start. If service personnel need help with programming or want to refer to an easy cheat sheet of fault codes, Tech Tips #78 and #81 are useful.

These and other technical support documents are available online at the Technical Support tab at www.terex.com/utilities, or users can sign up to receive email notifications at www.terex.com/utilities/en/links/preferences. www.terex.com/utilities

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Kate Wade

Premier Truck Brings Industrial ATV to the U.S.

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Premier Truck Rental, based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, will be among the first firms to bring the Fat Truck to the U.S. The Fat Truck is designed and assembled in Canada to move up to eight people or 2,200 pounds of payload across terrain that in the past might have required helicopter transport or been totally inaccessible – including on wet and flooded lands.

Premier Truck Rental has been serving multiple industries across the U.S., including those in the construction, electrical, oil and gas, and wind and solar sectors.

The Fat Truck is designed with safety foremost in mind. It is certified to the highest rollover protection structure standards, is compliant with Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, and offers 360-degree visibility to the driver, among other safety features.  

In addition to safety, the vehicle has built-in user interfaces designed to be easy to use. It has an intuitive joystick drive and dash display, automatic transmission, and can be driven on the left or right side of the vehicle depending on customer requirements. https://rentptr.com/fat-truck/

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Kate Wade

Chevrolet Silverado HD Carhartt Special Edition

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Chevrolet and Carhartt have revealed the ultimate hardworking truck designed to tackle the toughest jobs: the 2021 Silverado HD Carhartt Special Edition.

Based on the Silverado 2500 LTZ crew cab, the special edition is paired with the Z71 Off-Road Package, including tuned twin-tube Rancho shocks, hill descent control and skid plates.

It is offered exclusively in the Mosaic Black Metallic exterior color, which is complemented by pinstripe detailing in Carhartt gold, Carhartt badging on the doors and tailgate, 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires and a soft rollup tonneau cover embossed with the Carhartt logo. Black vent hood detailing, tow hooks and a tailgate bowtie lend more dramatic styling, while a chrome grille surround and inserts, along with body-color front and rear bumpers, further add to the distinctive exterior styling and the truck’s overall presence.

A Carhartt-themed interior includes all-weather floor liners with the Carhartt badge, along with exclusive two-tone Jet Black and Carhartt Brown leather-appointed seats featuring unique stitching and Carhartt embroidered headrests.

The production Silverado HD Carhartt Special Edition will be available for sale at Chevrolet dealerships in fall 2020. www.chevrolet.com

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Kate Wade

WEATHER GUARD All-Purpose Van Rack

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WEATHER GUARD, an industry leader in truck and van equipment, introduces the WEATHER GUARD All-Purpose Steel Van Rack and GlideSafe Load Assist accessory. The new all-purpose van rack delivers a heavy-duty, versatile solution for storing and transporting materials and tools to the job site. The WEATHER GUARD van rack can be installed in under an hour and is compatible with all commercial cargo vans sold in the U.S. and Canada.

The new GlideSafe Load Assist System creates a safer, easier loading and unloading process and does not require a rolling motion to be functional or protect the vehicle and equipment from damage. But that is not the only van accessory that can be paired with the new WEATHER GUARD van racks. Ready-to-mount ratchet straps also can be integrated to provide an easy-to-use solution for securing loads to the rack. Accessories come with all the necessary mounting hardware and do not require drilling. www.weatherguard.com

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Protecting the Fleet Mechanic

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A number of years ago, I went to a construction job site to participate in the morning crew meeting tailboard. The construction project was a 90-mile double-circuit transmission pull. The new circuit was being constructed in an existing transmission line right-of-way that had two existing energized 345-kV circuits running parallel to the new circuit construction. The location where we met was a pulling site. Crews had already been pulling at the location for two days. The work that had been completed the day before left conductors pulled in about halfway. Both ends had been caught off with chain hoists overnight so that the conductor was still under tension on the tensioner near the location of our meeting. The conductors at the tensioner had been temporarily grounded to a driven ground rod for the protection of the lineworkers. Red barricade tape also was completely encircling the tensioner, the reel trailer and the 30-ton crane hooked to the reel trailer.

I was standing near the back of the assembled group of about 20 personnel, listening to the site superintendent who was conducting the safety topic on grounding for protection from induced voltages. While he spoke, I noticed movement some 100 yards past him at the front of the 30-ton crane that was anchoring the reel trailer and tensioner. It was a fleet mechanic. He was working on an oil leak, which is one of the things mechanics do. The problem was that while the mechanic was conducting that repair task, he was in a position that exposed him to electrocution. The mechanic was there working with the full knowledge of the superintendent who was delivering the safety talk. But while the superintendent spoke to the crews about isolation, grounding and the hazards of induction, the mechanic was doing exactly what the site superintendent was telling the line crews not to do.

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Sean M. Lyden

Women in Utility Fleet: Michele Davis

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Michele Davis has loved cars for as long as she can remember.

So, when her father bought her a 1968 Chevy Camaro for her 16th birthday, “I lost my mind,” she recalled. “I didn't expect anything like that. I mean, I just wanted a car to drive to school, go to work, see all my friends. But my dad said, ‘Well, I know how much you love cars, and I know you'll appreciate this more than your younger sister will when she turns 16.’”

Today, Davis still owns that Camaro. And she has become a successful leader in a career that taps into her lifelong passion for all things automotive. She’s the fleet manager at Washington Gas, a natural gas service provider headquartered in the District of Columbia, where she manages about 1,200 fleet assets and 30 employees.

But it took a long and winding road for Davis to discover that she could build a career around her favorite pastime.

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