UFP Magazine

Jim Vaughn, CUSP

OSHA, Training and Certification

The occupational safety and health industry and civil authorities require that employers provide training to employees. In the U.S., OSHA mandates safety training related to tasks assigned to employees. The agency often also requires the employer to certify that the training has been completed. In fact, if you have an incident requiring OSHA notification, the first question that will be asked is, “Was the employee trained for the task?” The second inquiry will be a request for documentation of the training, usually followed by an enforceable subpoena for those training records.

Training and certification of training are important for two reasons. The first is that training has clearly been demonstrated to reduce incidents and injuries to workers. Second, OSHA will hold employers accountable for the training they conduct. The penalties for willful violation of training requirements are rarely discussed, and I hesitate to do it here, but the record shows that if an employer does not train, and OSHA can show the employer knew training was required, the penalties are based on willful violation. Penalties for willful violations that result in fatalities can include jail time for the employer. In addition, if OSHA wins a willful violation case, the employer can expect charges of negligence under both civil and criminal liability standards. Don’t take this training responsibility lightly. I, like OSHA, would prefer employers be compliant for the welfare of the workforce because they are ethical and care about their employees. But if the threat of prosecution works, we still accomplish the desired outcome: a safer workplace.

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Jason Julius

Pole Removal and Setting Techniques to Prevent Digger Derrick Damage

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Digger derricks are among the most versatile tools on a utility line construction project. They are built to tackle a myriad of tasks, from digging holes and lifting and setting poles to turning in screw anchors, putting lineworkers in the air and setting transformers. In short, digger derricks are hardworking tools used to solve a variety of challenges.

However, given the versatility of a digger derrick, there are specific work practices that need to be followed, such as those for removing and setting poles. When work practices are not performed correctly, equipment can be damaged. If you’ve ever used a digger derrick boom to rock a pole loose or used the load line to forcibly remove a pole, you should know both practices are prohibited by manufacturers. They are prohibited because doing so can impose unknown loads and forces on the digger derrick that its key components are not designed to withstand.

Among the main components of a digger derrick that can sustain damage due to pole rocking are the pedestal, turntable, boom, cylinders, pole guides, subframe, outriggers and winch. All of these are costly to repair or replace if damaged, plus downtime for repairs can put the equipment out of service for extended periods.

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Sean M. Lyden

Women in Utility Fleet: Holly Giffrow-Bos

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In 2006, when Holly Giffrow-Bos applied for the open fleet position at East Central Energy in Braham, Minnesota, she wasn’t exactly sure what she was getting into.

“Automotive is what I knew, but I really didn’t know what fleet was all about because it’s a completely different animal than the retail automotive business,” she said.

Giffrow-Bos knew the automotive business because she worked in dealerships for nearly two decades. She started in the accounting department at a small Ford dealership in Cambridge, Minnesota, after graduating high school. About a year later, she moved to Northern California, where she took a job at another Ford dealership, starting at the service department appointment desk.

“And then I just became a sponge,” Giffrow-Bos said. By the time she left that company in 2004, after about 14 years, she had worked her way up to fixed operations manager for the company’s two dealerships.

Today, Giffrow-Bos is the fleet supervisor at East Central Energy, overseeing about 200 fleet assets and four technicians.

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Kate Wade

PWX 2019 to Draw Thousands of Public Works Professionals to Seattle

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Thousands of public works professionals will convene in Seattle September 8-11 when PWX – owned and produced by the American Public Works Association – takes place at the Washington State Convention Center. Trade professionals, municipal leaders, government officials and individuals from the private sector are expected to attend to take advantage of learning and networking opportunities focused on the topics of infrastructure, workforce and technical issues facing communities.

The 2019 show is expected to attract more than 5,000 attendees from across the globe, and over 350 of the public works industry’s top suppliers will be exhibiting in nearly 80,000 net square feet of exhibit space.

“The success of our recent PWXes confirms that public works professionals require an all-inclusive, one-stop shop for all their public works and infrastructure needs,” said Scott D. Grayson, CAE, executive director of the American Public Works Association. “Attendees will see and learn about innovative solutions, and trending technologies and equipment, that will help them build, protect and maintain the critical infrastructure for which they are responsible.”

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Sean M. Lyden

The State of Drones in the North American Utility Market

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Line inspections using helicopters cost about $1,500 per mile compared to around $200 per mile with a drone. That nearly 90% reduction presents a compelling business case for utility companies to use drones, while also being able to improve safety by putting fewer lineworkers and helicopter pilots in harm’s way.

But drone sales in the North American utility market are still meager, projected to reach only about $1.5 million in 2019. Yet that number is expected to grow by nearly 18 times – to $26 million – by 2026, as U.S. regulations ease and drone technology improves, according to Michael Hartnack, a research analyst for Navigant Research covering drones and robotics for transmission and distribution operations worldwide. (For Navigant's full market report, visit www.navigantresearch.com/reports/drones-and-robotics-for-transmission-and-distribution-operations.)

These numbers represent hardware sales only and not revenue from ancillary drone services – such as piloting, training, software development, data analytics, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and other support offerings – which will make the overall U.S. utility drone market significantly bigger, Hartnack said.

So, what exactly is the state of drones in the North American utility sector today? What’s holding back widespread adoption of drones? And what are the future possibilities?

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Jim Galligan

Watch Your Overhang: Spec’ing Utility Pole Trailers for Maximum Safety

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“Mind your lengths and weights” could be the mantra for any utility spec’ing a new utility pole trailer. Pole lengths and weights, as well as the operating terrain and tie-down options, are some of the safety-related factors to consider when ordering a new trailer, industry experts said.

At the top of the safety spec’ing list is determining the length of the longest pole that will be transported and how much overhang is considered safe, said Mark Rapp, utility/telecom product manager with Felling Trailers (www.felling.com). The legal standards for overhang vary by state, and it’s up to the utility to know and abide by the regulations.

Additionally, fleets need to think about how mixing different pole lengths and classes on a trailer will affect performance and safety.

“A Class 1 pole is more rigid than a Class 5 pole and therefore can tolerate more overhang,” Rapp said. “[It’s] up to the end user or the pole supplier to determine how much overhang they can tolerate.”

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Fiona Soltes

Technology Tools to Ensure Proper Fuel Use

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Remember the days when fuel consumption was likely to be documented on a clipboard near the pump?

Chris Lindquist does, too. Lindquist, who spent almost 30 years managing fleet and fleet operations for Colorado Springs Utilities before other opportunities, said vehicle numbers and gallons used were marked, “but reconciling those wasn’t very accurate.”

Times have changed.

Fleet professionals now have access to telematics, employee and vehicle tracking technology, fuel card controls and more. Data is there for the taking – but a careful eye is still required to ensure proper fuel use.

“Fuel is the largest-volume operations and maintenance expense a fleet manager has,” Lindquist said. “It represents the most transactions in the month. It takes a tremendous amount of time to reconcile, but when you consider the amount spent on fuel in the overall budget, you have to allocate the associated amount of time to manage it.”

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Grace Suizo

Is Now the Time to Rightsize Your Fleet?

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The task of cutting fleet costs while remaining productive and providing quality service to customers can be challenging. Over time, rightsizing has become a go-to strategy to accomplish just such a task. To gain greater insight on the topic, UFP recently spoke with three fleet professionals about their take on rightsizing and the strategies that have worked for their organizations.

Dan Remmert, senior manager of fleet services for Ameren Illinois, said that rightsizing usually is driven by a need to reduce costs, but it’s important that fleet managers know exactly what they’re trying to achieve before they begin.

“Having the right number of vehicles or equipment is one aspect,” he said. “A second main driver is having the right type or size of vehicles. Before you start on a rightsizing effort, understand what you are trying to fix.”

A fleet also will want to consider what their business will look like in both the short and long term, advised Ed Powell, assistant manager of business intelligence and analytics for fleet management provider ARI (www.arifleet.com). For example, will more units be needed, or will shifts in your operating dynamic present opportunities to streamline your fleet?

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Sandy Smith

Invest in the Right Training for Your Fleet Technicians

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Matt Gilliland, director of operations support for Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), understands the value of investing in training for fleet mechanics.

“There is an old cliché that says, ‘The only thing more expensive than training is not training,’” he said. “Training is one of the most important tools in the technician’s toolbox.”

And it’s even more so these days in an industry that, according to Gilliland, “changes rapidly, and the technology within the industry grows ever more complex. Training is paramount for success.”

To stay on top of changes with OEM specs, NPPD sends its fleet team to training on an ongoing basis. That, said George Survant, senior director of fleet relations for NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry (www.ntea.com), is necessary today.

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Sean M. Lyden

How to Get Buy-In on Your New Fleet Initiative

You’re planning to roll out a new telematics deployment or ask senior management for a bigger budget, expecting to encounter some resistance. How do you position your proposal to get buy-in from stakeholders?

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle offered insight into this topic with his work “The Art of Rhetoric,” which was published about 2,400 years ago. He introduced the three elements of influence that still serve as the foundation for effective leadership communications today.

The big takeaway from “The Art of Rhetoric” is that if you overlook any of the three elements when crafting and presenting your proposal, you’ll stack the odds against you being able to win over your audience.

What are those three elements?

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Kate Wade

Terex TL Series of Aerial Devices

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Terex Utilities has expanded its TL Series of aerial devices with three new telescopic and material-handling models designed for transmission work.

The series includes the TL80, TL100 and TL80/112, which provide 80-foot, 100-foot and 112-foot working heights, respectively. The new TL transmission aerial devices were developed to have strong working ranges when compared to similar transmission aerials. For example, the TL100 has more than 61 feet of horizontal reach and a maximum material-handling capacity of 1,000 pounds.

All three models feature end-mounted, two-person platforms with capacities up to 700 pounds. Self-leveling platforms rotate 180 degrees. The TL80 and TL80/112 also are available with an option of a side-mounted platform having a jib capacity up to 2,000 pounds.

Designed to provide ground access, the platform on all TL units can be lowered to within inches of the ground. In addition, the boom design increases bed space and bed access to the bucket. Use of high-grade, high-yield-strength steel in the upper and lower boom sections provides rigid operation while reducing weight in the boom. The lower boom comes with a fiberglass lower boom insert and an upper boom that allows the TL80 and TL80/112 Category B Dielectric to be rated for 138-kV work. The TL100 can be rated up to 69 kV. www.terex.com/utilities

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Kate Wade

Bridgestone Fuel-Efficient Trailer Tire

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Bridgestone Americas Inc. has announced a new addition to its fuel-efficient Bridgestone Ecopia commercial truck tire portfolio. The Bridgestone R123 Ecopia tire is a SmartWay verified trailer tire engineered to deliver low rolling resistance and exceptional wear in long-haul and regional service applications.

The Bridgestone R123 Ecopia tire is engineered with features such as an IntelliShape sidewall designed to reduce the overall tire weight and minimize rolling resistance. The tire also uses patented NanoPro-Tech polymer technology to limit energy loss and help improve fuel economy. Additional innovations include a fuel-efficient tread design to lower rolling resistance and improve fuel economy; an innovative tread pattern to increase traction and grip on wet roads, as well as absorption of tread edge stress to promote long, even wear; an optimized tread volume that allows for long removal mileage; and a specialized defense groove structure that helps establish even pressure at the tire shoulder and minimize tread edge wear.

Designed to maximize the total tire life cycle, the Bridgestone R123 Ecopia tire provides excellent retreadability and works together with Bandag FuelTech retreads to capitalize on tire performance potential, drive down fuel costs and make mobility more efficient for fleets. https://commercial.bridgestone.com

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Kate Wade

LockNClimb Ergonomic Safety Ladder

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LockNClimb, the world’s leading manufacturer of innovative ergonomic safety ladders for the trucking industry, has introduced the 42LNCTRKENG. This ladder rolls easily and sets up quickly around the tires, allowing unparalleled working access to all maintenance points on the engine via its stable, wide, slip-resistant platform. The ladder can be repositioned where needed to access running lights, windshields, mirrors and other components. The optional yellow safety handrails provide extra safety when ascending and descending.

LockNClimb ladders are made one at a time out of industrial-grade 6061 aluminum by skilled craftsmen in the USA and have been designed to exceed all applicable OSHA and ANSI standards. The patented LockNClimb base makes the 42-inch-high 42LNCTRKENG a freestanding ladder with no top rest support required. The ladder can easily be rolled on its commercial-quality hard rubber wheels and slides on replaceable brass feet to prevent sparks. www.locknclimb.com/trucking

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Kate Wade

TravelCenters of America TechOn-SITE Mobile Maintenance

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TravelCenters of America LLC has answered the call to provide more comprehensive heavy truck maintenance and repair services for fleet equipment that is idle with TechOn-SITE.

Trucks today are more complex than ever, equipped with advanced electronic components, sensors and emission controls that require state-of-the-art equipment to diagnose an issue and a highly skilled technician to complete the repair. TechOn-SITE, previously TA Truck Service OnSITE, better identifies the importance of the technical expertise required to fill a growing need in the industry for expanded remote maintenance and repair services. 

The TechOn-SITE mobile maintenance vehicle is custom designed to provide the technician access to the tools, equipment and parts needed to complete routine maintenance or a more complex repair. Some of the most frequently requested mobile services include DOT inspections, computer diagnostics, tire service, brakes, lighting and trailer maintenance. www.ta-petro.com

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Manufacturer Warnings and OSHA-Compliant Safety Performance

Over the past few weeks I have received several inquiries regarding horizontal directional drilling (HDD). It’s not unusual in our industry for questions to make the rounds of utilities and contractors, generating interest and often controversy. I also have recently received several inquiries regarding OSHA allegedly canceling the digger derrick exemption in 29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC, “Cranes & Derricks in Construction.” OSHA hasn’t done that, but somebody said they did, and folks started asking around. Soon after, I received calls for clarification on the matter. In the digger derrick case, there was nothing to it; OSHA has not changed anything about the exemption. However, concerning HDD, there is an issue that raises an interesting question for those who administer compliance.

The point of the rest of this article is not to recommend or criticize any safety procedure associated with HDD. The point is to examine the role of manufacturer warnings and OSHA-compliant safety performance in the workplace. There is no doubt that I will get emails from HDD machine manufacturers and adherents of overshoe use, as well as overshoe sales or manufacturing representatives. I invite your response. To be clear, both Utility Fleet Professional magazine and I are solely interested in providing an opportunity for perspective and analysis of a process that will help individuals learn how to deal with challenges in the workplace.

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Sean M. Lyden

Lessons Learned from a Telematics Deployment

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Cut fuel costs, promote safer driving behaviors and improve storm response – these are just a few examples of how fleet telematics that captures and tracks vehicle data can help you run your department more effectively.

But deploying telematics across hundreds or even thousands of fleet assets can be a daunting task if you don’t know what to expect.

UFP spoke with Paul Jefferson, fleet manager at Oklahoma City-based Oklahoma Gas & Electric, who oversees about 2,000 fleet assets, to learn about the utility's experience with telematics.

Jefferson and his team began working with the benchmarking and telematics provider Utilimarc (https://utilimarc.com) in 2015 with a pilot program that included 30 vehicles. To date, the company has installed telematics on about 1,200 vehicles.

What advice does Jefferson have for other utility fleet professionals when it comes to a telematics deployment? Here are five tips.

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Sean M. Lyden

The Low-Hanging Fruit for Greening Your Fleet

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What if you could convert the majority of your fleet to run on a cleaner-burning, renewable fuel with minimal capital investment. Would you do it?

According to NTEA’s 2019 Fleet Purchasing Outlook, a growing number of fleet professionals are saying they would, with survey participants naming biodiesel as their top alternative fuel choice – and their top choice for future interest.

Think of biodiesel as the low-hanging fruit for fleets to make a significant dent in their green initiatives without breaking the bank. That's because the fuel is relatively easy to get, and biodiesel blends up to B20 (20% biodiesel and 80% petrodiesel) can be used in most diesel engines without modification. Compared to petrodiesel, B20 reduces carbon emissions by 16% on average, according to the National Biodiesel Board. And you can use biodiesel in conjunction with your fleet electrification efforts, such as with hybrid-electric diesel trucks.

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Kate Wade

EUFMC Aims to Advance Strategies for Fleet Improvement

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After record-breaking attendance in 2018, the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference is heading back to Williamsburg, Virginia, June 2-5, where it will feature an educational program focused on “Advancing Strategies for Fleet Improvement.”

Earl C. “Duke” Austin Jr., president and CEO of Quanta Services, will deliver the 2019 keynote address. According to EUFMC, Austin has played a fundamental role in Quanta’s significant growth. He spearheads strategic development of the contractor company’s capabilities in assessment, planning, engineering and design, procurement, construction, commissioning, testing, operations and management of infrastructure systems.

Other event speakers are scheduled to include Mark Kelly and Jason Schechterle. Kelly, who has been chosen as the featured dinner speaker, is an American astronaut and retired U.S. Navy captain who will offer insights to attendees based on his life experiences. Schechterle is a former Phoenix police officer who will facilitate “Burning Shield,” a safety presentation that chronicles his life after a vehicle fire in which 40% of his body sustained severe burns.

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Sean M. Lyden

The State of Self-Driving Vehicles: Proceed with Caution

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Norman Vincent Peale, author of the classic self-help book "The Power of Positive Thinking," put it like this: "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."

Peale’s message is clear: Aim high. That way, even if you miss your target or it takes you longer than you had hoped, you’ll accomplish so much more than you could have if you had set your sights lower.

It appears that after a decade of shooting for the moon, the automakers and tech giants working in the self-driving space have realized that replacing human drivers with software is a much harder challenge – and will take longer – than anticipated to solve. But in their pursuit of full autonomy, OEMs have made significant progress in developing driver-assist systems and other technology that could pay significant dividends in saving lives until the day that "driverless" becomes a reality.

What has happened in the past year to change the trajectory and outlook for fully autonomous vehicles? Where does the industry stand today?

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Jim Galligan

Avoiding Costly Mistakes with ATUVs

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Prices can range upward of $300,000 for a ready-to-work all-terrain utility vehicle (ATUV), so fleet managers can ill afford missteps in spec’ing, maintenance or planning – mistakes that may end up costing unnecessary dollars or lost days on a remote site while waiting for repairs.

Fortunately, mistakes can be avoided with smart spec’ing and common-sense practices, according to ATUV chassis manufacturers.

Right-size spec’ing is the most important thing fleets can do, said Matt Slater, vice president of sales and marketing with Terramac (www.terramac.com).

“[Make] sure you are sourcing the right size unit for your application,” he said. “Problems [can] arise when you source too large an attachment to go on a unit or try to use a smaller unit to make it easier to transport. The inability to move [equipment] on a specific trailer or to get permits for it is something we see all the time.”

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