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UFP Magazine

Kate Wade

HydraBed Reel Management System

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Industry-leading utility hydraulics manufacturer HydraBed has introduced a new version of its popular Reel Lift lifting unit, the ReelLift Reel Management System, a full-capability solution that performs all the major functions of reel and cable handling. Enabling utility workers and contractors to reduce their reel and cable handling time by up to 50%, the new ReelLift system combines the functions of reel pickup and transport with semi-autonomous hydraulic cable payout, retrieval and figure-eight deployment in one compact, truck-bed-based package.

Featuring an industry-best 5,000-pound reel capacity, the ReelLift system eliminates the need for a dedicated reel trailer while enabling a cable crew to transport and position reels of telecom wire, fiber-optic cable and other reel-based connective media, and then precisely pay out, retrieve and even create figure-eight patterns via its variable-speed, easy-to-use controls. Thoughtful features include a contractor-tested, quick-release axle security latch, a built-in 20,000-pound-rated tow hitch and an unmatched five-year structural warranty.

The ReelLift system is available through its national dealer network as a turnkey solution customized to fit most popular chassis cab truck models, or it can be factory-installed at HydraBed’s Sabetha, Kansas, location. www.hydrabeds.com/utility

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Kate Wade

DPL Telematics Launches AssetCommand Max

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DPL Telematics, a leading provider of advanced asset monitoring and telemetry technologies, recently announced the release of the AssetCommand Max Tracking System, an advanced solution for wireless monitoring and remote tracking of off-road equipment, as well as over-the-road trucks, to increase productivity while reducing fleet costs. The rugged device tracks runtime, trips, geofences, curfews, rollover and service schedules while empowering managers to remotely disable their assets.

The AssetCommand Max allows owners to remotely monitor their assets accurately from an intuitive, internet-based software package and mobile app. The unit is the first telematics product of its kind to feature a remote starter disable/enable; tilt and rollover detection; IP 67-rated and UV-stabilized design; tamper detection; little to no sky view required; internal backup battery and antenna; wireless, two-way communication; and a month-to-month agreement.

The AssetCommand Max reports usage metrics such as runtime, odometer, movement, ignition status, speed and battery health. The platform also includes an intuitive service module for scheduling by runtime, odometer or calendar and notifying whichever threshold is reached first. The easy-to-use solution is an effective tool to reduce service costs, maximize uptime and eliminate manual errors. www.dpltel.com

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Kate Wade

Utilimaster Velocity F2 Walk-In Van

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Utilimaster, a business unit of The Shyft Group, has announced its latest production-ready, purpose-built walk-in van: the Velocity F2. Built on a sub-10,000-pound GVWR Ford Transit chassis, the Velocity F2 combines nimbleness, comfort and fuel efficiency with the cargo space, access and load capacity similar to a traditional walk-in delivery van. The company is taking production orders for the Velocity F2 now.

Utilimaster has expanded their product portfolio to include this Class 2 purpose-built walk-in van to meet the rapidly growing global e-commerce and delivery demand. As the leading manufacturer of last-mile delivery vehicles, Utilimaster and The Shyft Group fulfill a segment void with the market-ready, purpose-built Velocity F2.

Benefits of the Velocity F2 include lower total cost of ownership and operation than Class 3-6 vehicles; drivers of Class 2 vehicles do not need a commercial driver’s license to operate; and ease of compliance with Department of Transportation requirements.

Additional features include better fuel economy; improved safety step heights; lightweight aluminum sidewalls; 600-700 cubic feet of cargo space; and a corresponding payload range of 3,700-4,300 pounds.

The Velocity is also offered in a Class 3 (GVWR 14,000) vehicle, available on both the Ford Transit (Velocity F3) and the Mercedes Sprinter (Velocity M3) chassis. www.utilimaster.com/velocity-f2

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Kate Wade

Transfer Flow Diesel Refueling Tanks

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Transfer Flow, a manufacturer of premier American-made fuel tanks since 1983, has introduced two new refueling tanks for diesel fuel. The 50- and 80-gallon fuel tanks fit full-size pickups and come with mounting hardware, fuel cap and rollover valve. They’re perfect for manually fueling your diesel truck or equipment in the field. 

The refueling tanks are manufactured from 14-gauge aluminized steel for superior rust resistance and strength. They have internal baffles for extra durability and are powder coated black. They’re also compatible with GPI and Fill-Rite 12-volt refueling pumps, which are sold separately. www.transferflow.com

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Trailers, Brakes and Common Usage Errors

I perform audits of both utilities and contractors. When I work with them to do those audits, we include trucks and trailers. The trailers I’m talking about here are not the box vans behind tractors, but the general-duty trailers used to haul trenchers, backhoes, wire reels and padmount transformers. It’s no surprise that the trailer issues we discover are in keeping with the types and frequencies of violations that enforcement officials find on the roadways: those involving lights, load securement and brakes. Auditors also get a lot of questions about trailer safety, or more specifically, trailer rules, which are in place for trailer safety. I almost always receive those questions after an enforcement action has occurred.

Many enforcement actions have come about due to the efforts of states that have noticed trends in trailer-related incidents. The incidents didn’t involve semi-trailers pulled by tractors; they involved smaller trailers used in commercial environments where enforcement had not spent much focus. Without that focus, there was a lack of accountability, and now it’s caught up with us. States are enhancing their observations of commercial trailering, making stops and taking trailers out of service for numerous issues, most often related to brakes.

The inspiration for this article was a recent training visit I made to a central U.S. utility. On the way to the training location, I saw a utility crew on the side of the road with a state trooper. It turned out they were my training class for that day, so I got to ask them about the stop. It was about brakes. The trooper was getting ready to pull out from a doughnut shop (really, he was) when the crew passed in front of him. The trooper noticed the lack of a battery box and a battery, so he stopped them. He didn’t check to see whether the brakes were working because the lack of a battery on the electric braking system meant the breakaway emergency system wasn’t functional. The crew got a ticket, but they also caught a break. Since the yard was two blocks away, the state trooper allowed the crew to continue to the yard instead of putting them out of service. He also stopped by later that afternoon to see if the trailer brakes had been repaired. They had been.

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Sean M. Lyden

CenterPoint Energy to Electrify 100% of Light-Duty Fleet by 2030

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In late September, CenterPoint Energy announced that, by the end of this decade, the company will replace 100% of its light-duty fleet – currently 134 cars, vans and SUVs – with plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles at CenterPoint’s electric operations facilities in Evansville, Indiana, and Houston.

Officials also said the company would electrify 5% of its heavy-duty fleet at those locations by 2025 and 10% by 2030.

So, what has led CenterPoint’s electric operations to go all-in on fleet electrification? What fleet applications will make the transition first? And what does the company see as the business case for electrified vehicles?

UFP recently spoke with Barb Varanauski, director of fleet, shop services and radio communications for CenterPoint Energy, to get her perspective. Here is an edited excerpt of our conversation.

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Craig Ries

Using Aerials and Digger Derricks in Slick Conditions

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As we enter the full grip of winter, setting up aerial devices and digger derricks in snowy and icy conditions brings additional concerns for equipment operators. Normal traction is greatly reduced, which could put a truck in an unstable position. Variable site locations – on gravel or grass, sloped or level – and the urgency to minimize electrical disruptions mean that utility crews often must make the most of imperfect conditions.

Upon arrival at the site, whenever possible, clear away snow and ice under outriggers and tires so that they are in contact with bare ground. Avoid setting outriggers on drains or manholes.

“All outriggers must be lowered to provide proper support, apply downward pressure on outriggers, and always use outrigger pads on a level surface,” advised Bruce Westergaard of Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association. He also suggested avoiding uneven seating, where the outrigger foot straddles mounds or spans dips, as well as using outrigger pads that are textured on the bottom.

Alternatively, traction aids under tires and outriggers – such as sand, gravel and mats – also are a good option.

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Grace Suizo

Technologies to Improve Aerial Safety

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Operating aerial equipment can pose risks if care is not taken to identify and mitigate hazards. UFP recently spoke with industry professionals to learn more about technologies currently available to enhance safety during aerial equipment use.

Reduce Operator Falls
It was customer feedback that contributed to Terex Utilities (www.terex.com/utilities) developing the Positive Attachment Lanyard (PAL) device, which serves as an added reminder to users to properly utilize fall protection. The warning system is designed as an operator aid to reduce the chance of an operator elevating the bucket without a safety harness lanyard attached.

“Most of the time when a worker fails to attach the lanyard, it’s an honest mistake,” said Joe Caywood, director of marketing for Terex Utilities. “The worker was concentrating on the job and just forgot. We hope that linemen will consider the PAL device as a friendly reminder in the platform. It’s there to promote their following of safe work practices.”

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Sean M. Lyden

What Fleet Managers Should Know About Impact Attenuators

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An impact attenuator is a safety device, either mounted on the rear of a truck or towed as a trailer, that absorbs the force of a vehicle collision at speeds up to 62.5 mph to protect roadside crews working nearby.

While attenuators are not a new concept – they’ve been in use in the highway construction industry for decades – what is new is that they’ve started to become more prevalent in the utility industry.

“Utility companies are a new market for us,” said Brent Kulp, executive vice president at TrafFix Devices Inc. (www.traffixdevices.com), which builds both truck-mounted and trailer impact attenuators. “Typically, we sell to the highway departments. But beginning about five years ago, utility companies started coming to us, saying, ‘Hey, our guys are out on the highway, out on the city streets, fixing a gas line or doing a utility pole repair. We want to protect our crew working in front of that vehicle from distracted drivers.’”

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Gary L. Wollenhaupt

Wireless Charging Unleashes Electric Vehicle Fleets

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If your utility operates electric vehicles – or is planning to do so – the emergence of wireless charging technology could impact vehicle selection and charging infrastructure decisions.

Currently, wireless charging is available for smartphones and other small electronics. But wireless EV charging could be a key to widespread transportation electrification.

In the utility industry, EV adoption is just beginning to take off. This September, Duke Energy announced an EV initiative that will convert 100% of its light-duty vehicles to electric and 50% of its combined fleet of medium-duty, heavy-duty and off-road vehicles to EVs, plug-in hybrids or other zero-carbon alternatives by 2030. The utility company already has about 600 EVs in its 10,000-vehicle fleet.

Duke will deploy new Level 2 plug-in charging stations at operations centers, field offices and power generation facilities – essentially, "wherever we are deploying the bulk of the EV fleet at any given time," according to Jennifer Sharpe, a spokeswoman for Duke Energy. "As we see growth in the fleet, we'll deploy additional fast-charging facilities for longer-distance travel of any fully electric vehicles."

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Sandy Smith

Do Tire Chains Make Sense for Your Utility Fleet Vehicles?

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It wasn’t so long ago that, when the calendar began its march toward winter, fleets dug out tire chains and issued them to each vehicle. When inclement weather eventually arrived, it was up to the operator to install the chains.

In recent years, however, things have changed, both in terms of options for traction devices and improvements in tires themselves. That has Dale Collins, fleet services supervisor for Virginia-based Fairfax Water, rethinking his approach to the utility’s on-road fleet of 320 assets.

“Let’s say we experience a blizzard,” Collins said during a recent interview with UFP. “[Tire chains] work well for what they’re doing. But around here, like a lot of the mid-Atlantic, heavy snowfall lasts around 24 to 36 hours. You want to use your chains. But then, you’re using a chain on the semi-clear road, which causes damage to the roadway, wears out the chain itself and is an uncomfortable ride.”

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Sean M. Lyden

Freightliner: How Electric Trucks Will Change Your Garage Operations

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Numerous signs point toward an all-electric future in transportation.

But as more plug-in electric trucks become commercially available for fleets, how will the new technology impact your garage operations? What will change with technician training, equipment and other aspects of your shop?

Daimler Trucks North America plans to start production of its plug-in electric Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 models in 2022. So, UFP spoke with Gregory Bowen, the electric mobility developer and trainer at DTNA, and Jason Ascher, DTNA’s e-mobility engineer, to get their perspective on what you can expect as you prepare your shop to work on EVs in the coming years.

Here’s an edited excerpt of our conversation.

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Sean M. Lyden

Why California’s Ban on Gas and Diesel Vehicles Matters

In September, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that his state will ban the sale of new light-duty gasoline and diesel vehicles, effective in 2035. And by 2045, new medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in California must also be zero-emissions.

So, what does this news mean for utility fleets?

It means that the transportation industry is trending toward an all-electric future, with vehicles powered by battery only, hydrogen or a hybrid of both “fuels,” depending on a vehicle’s range requirements and duty cycle.

But how does California’s ban impact vehicle sales – and your fleet – outside the state?

Think about it. If California were a sovereign nation, it would rank as the world’s fifth-largest economy. And the state accounts for a massive share of U.S. auto sales. This means that when California talks, the automakers listen.

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Kate Wade

Peterbilt Model 220EV

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Peterbilt is pleased to announce that the Model 220EV is now available for customer orders. It can be configured through the SmartSpec sales tool and ordered at one of Peterbilt’s best-in-class dealer locations, with customer deliveries expected to start by the end of 2020.

The Model 220EV is Peterbilt’s first electric configuration for medium-duty applications and provides customers a zero-emission Class 6 or 7 vehicle for clean, efficient operation and lower overall maintenance. With a range of up to 200 miles on a full charge, the Model 220EV is powered by an electric motor and features two battery packs and an onboard charger. When using the vehicle’s DC fast-charging system, the state-of-the-art, high-energy-density battery packs can recharge in one to two hours, making the Model 220EV ideal for local pickup and delivery as well as short regional haul operations.

Designed with optimal weight distribution and performance, the Model 220EV also provides greater driver comfort and productivity through a quiet ride, and the cab-over-engine configuration delivers superior maneuverability, enhanced visibility, a spacious interior and ease of serviceability for maximizing uptime. www.peterbilt.com

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Kate Wade

Morooka Rubber Track Carrier

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The first Morooka MST-3000VDR rubber track carrier, with enhanced hydraulics and a larger bed, recently rolled off the line at the manufacturing facility in Ashland, Virginia. Morooka’s VDR models all feature an upper structure that can rotate 360 degrees in either direction independently from the undercarriage and tracks. This helps users reduce surface damage that occurs when turning the machine, as well as aiding users who have limited operating space.

Currently available by special order only, the new MST-3000VDR is powered by a 300-horsepower Caterpillar C7.1 engine and can handle a maximum load of 36,000 pounds. It has a top speed of 8 mph yet only exerts a ground pressure of 3.6 to 8.0 psi. www.morookacarriers.com

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Kate Wade

Hino Paves Path to Zero Emissions

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Hino Trucks recently announced Project Z, the company’s development path to zero-emissions vehicles (ZEV), ranging from Class 4 to Class 8.

The live virtual event showcased the most comprehensive lineup of zero-emissions trucks, partnering with technology leaders in advanced electrification drive systems.

The ZEV products ranged from a Class 5 on a SEA Electric SEA-Drive 120a on a Hino M5 chassis, up to a Hino XL Series Class 8 tractor powered by Toyota’s Fuel Cell system. Additionally, Hino featured a battery electric Class 7 tractor with Hexagon Purus’ full electric drive system, and a Hino XL Series Class 8 box truck powered by Xos Trucks’ X-Pack battery and electric drive system. For the battery electric vehicles, Hino will look at both central drive motors and e-axles.

Project Z advances Hino’s environmental leadership position, first established in 1991 with the global sale of its hybrid buses, and will consist of demonstration vehicles in the first half of 2021, customer demonstrations in 2022 and production prior to 2024.

The project does not end here. Over the coming months, Hino Trucks will unveil more granular details about the cutting-edge technologies and vehicles to come out of Project Z. www.hino.com/projectz

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Kate Wade

Terex Utilities Opens New Manufacturing Facility

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Terex Utilities announced that its new manufacturing headquarters is now fully functional, and the first production units have rolled off the line. The 450,000-square-foot facility brings production operations under one roof on a 55-acre site in Watertown, South Dakota.

The new facility houses assembly, fiberglass, paint and installation. Among the first machines to roll off the line were a C6060 digger derrick for Otter Tail Power Co. in Minnesota, an HR46 aerial device for Xcel Energy in Minnesota, an LT40 aerial device for NiSource in Indiana and a General 65 digger derrick for Brazos Electric Cooperative in Texas.

Terex Utilities hopes to celebrate the opening of its modern manufacturing facility with customers once the coronavirus is controlled. Until then, this video shows a time lapse of the new facility construction. www.terex.com/utilities

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

A Practical Review of the ANSI A92.2 Standard

This is a review of ANSI/SAIA A92.2-2015, “American National Standard for Vehicle-Mounted Elevating and Rotating Aerial Devices.” As a consultant, investigator and auditor, I have been surprised time and again that people who should know this standard do not know it that well. Most fleet managers are familiar with the rules, which is important because the A92.2 standard obligates owners of aerial lifts to be held liable for equipment they sell in certain scenarios. On the employee side, a working knowledge of A92.2 can prevent incidents and loss of life. In fact, a recent live-line barehand training class was what inspired this topic. We found that a bucket truck had the leasing company’s logo sticker adhered down both sides of the insulated boom section. That bucket truck was designed and rated for barehand use at 500 kV, yet a vinyl-plastic printed logo installed by the leasing company, spanning two-thirds of the insulated length, could have had some serious implications for the safety of that boom.

In this article, we are going to review some of the information covered in the A92.2 standard. Readers should recognize that ANSI/SAIA consensus standards are protected by copyright, so we will not directly reproduce the text of the standard itself. The A92.2 standard can be purchased directly from the ANSI website (https://webstore.ansi.org).

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Sean M. Lyden

3 Factors to Consider When Retrofitting LED Lights on Work Trucks

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It makes sense that most truck OEMs, body manufacturers and upfitters have made the switch from conventional incandescent bulbs to light-emitting diode (LED) lighting for their latest models.

After all, LEDs last exponentially longer, shine brighter, burn cooler and draw less power. And although LEDs are more expensive upfront, the cost drops significantly over the bulb’s life.

But what about the older vehicles in your fleet that still use incandescent bulbs? Would it pay to retrofit those lights with LEDs? How do you decide? And what factors should you consider before you make the switch?

UFP recently caught up with Ken Gillies, senior work truck consultant at Element Fleet Management (www.elementfleet.com), who offered these three considerations.

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Sean M. Lyden

The Impact of COVID-19 on Order-to-Delivery Time Frames – and How to Respond Effectively

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In early March, the coronavirus caused automakers to shut down production completely for two months. But even after reopening in late June, they’ve still had to deal with temporary plant closures as positive cases emerge.

As you can imagine, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on vehicle and equipment production schedules and supply chains, causing significant delays that have put many utility fleets in a bind.

So, what exactly is the current state of order-to-delivery (OTD) time frames? What can you expect to see over the next several months? And how can you minimize any disruption to your fleet operations?

UFP spoke with Cindy Gomez, vice president of vehicle acquisitions services at Donlen (www.donlen.com), a fleet management company, to get her outlook on OTD time frames and advice on how you can handle the issue.

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