UFP Magazine

Jim Vaughn, CUSP

The ABCs of Grounding Mobile Equipment

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Across our industry, I have found all kinds of policies for grounding trucks. I also have found that in many cases, employers’ rules for grounding trucks are not based on OSHA requirements and – even more concerning – are not based on sound principles of protection. I believe the grounding policies are well intentioned, but they fail to achieve two important goals: (1) meeting the OSHA standard and (2) protecting workers where electrical contact hazards exist. So, let’s take an ABCs approach to the issue because even though some detailed explanation is required, it really is that simple.

A Defensible Plan
You must be able to defend your plan or policy. This is the case for every plan or policy. Defense is built around establishing and accomplishing a goal, understanding the hazard, understanding the mitigation of the hazard, training at-risk employees, and conducting periodic audits to ensure the plan or policy is properly employed.

The Goal
In our case, the goal is protecting workers from electrical hazards created by contact with mobile equipment. Let’s agree here that mobile equipment is anything that is moved into a work site. In addition, it is mobile equipment that can become energized. If it can’t become energized, it is not a hazard.

Understanding the Hazard
The hazard is energizing mobile equipment and the transfer of hazardous energy to an employee who is on, in contact with or near the equipment that has become energized. The hazard involves unintended or inadvertent energizing. There can be several energizing sources, but we can classify them as follows: direct contact with an energized source, capacitive coupled voltage or inductive coupled current (I’ll explain this a little later), and inadvertent energizing by grounding to a current-carrying source. Let’s start with this one first.

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Sean M. Lyden

New Developments to Watch in Telematics

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The fleet telematics industry has come a long way since 2000, when Geotab’s (www.geotab.com) executive vice president of sales and marketing, Colin Sutherland, joined the Ontario, Canada-based telematics company.

“Back then, [telematics] was all about collecting data on board the vehicle itself and, in many cases, having to manually transfer that data to a computing environment using [thumb drives],” Sutherland said.

But with today's telematics, vehicles can automatically transmit real-time location and operational data to the cloud at a significantly lower cost. And as wireless technology has gotten faster and cheaper, telematics capabilities have expanded considerably to include onboard cameras, workforce management systems and machine learning to generate more comprehensive and useful reports.

So, what’s on the horizon? What new developments in telematics should you keep your eye on in the next 12 months?

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Sean M. Lyden

Flattening the Curve? The State of Transportation Electrification During a Pandemic

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A perfect storm of geopolitical forces flooding the world’s oil supply and COVID-19 causing global governments to temporarily shut down their economies has precipitated a steep drop in gasoline and diesel prices in recent weeks.

So, what does this mean for the electric vehicle market?

After all, conventional wisdom says that cheap gas will put the brakes on the demand for alternative fuels, including electricity.

But Karl Popham, manager of electric vehicles and emerging technologies at Austin Energy, a public power utility and a department of The City of Austin, Texas, believes that demand for electrified transportation likely will continue to grow despite oil prices at historic lows.

Why? Popham points to four trends.

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Grace Suizo

Selecting the Right Advanced Driver Assistance Systems for Your Fleet

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From automatic braking and lane-keeping assist to adaptive cruise control, backup cameras and parking sensors, there are quite a few advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to choose from today. So, how do you decide which ones are best for your fleet vehicles? UFP recently spoke with Dale Collins, fleet services supervisor for Virginia-based Fairfax Water, to find out which systems have proved most helpful to his fleet over the past decade.

Identify Areas for Improvement
Fairfax Water has been utilizing ADAS since 2010. The utility currently operates a total of 434 units, 320 of which are on-road vehicles ranging from Class 1 to Class 8. Approximately 40% are equipped with some sort of ADAS; parking assist and backup cameras are the bare minimum, according to Collins.

The first tip he shared about spec’ing ADAS is to identify what you’re really trying to improve. “In our case, we really wanted to improve on a particular hazard, which was backing,” Collins explained.

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Sandy Smith

Spec’ing ATUVs for Optimal Performance and Safety

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Cooperative Energy, which generates and transmits energy to 11 member systems in Mississippi, recently doubled its line crews to four. It’s no surprise, then, that they’ve “had to have more equipment,” according to Wayne Owens, the company’s fleet maintenance supervisor.

Serving 55 of Mississippi’s 82 counties, Cooperative Energy crews must deal with hills, hollows and swampland, which means that it’s crucial to have an all-terrain utility vehicle (ATUV) that’s right for the diverse terrain.

“You’ve got to have a machine that will be adequate to get where you need to get,” Owens said. “The specs have to start with the terrain.”

Scott Merrill, vice president at tracked vehicle manufacturer PowerBully (www.powerbully.com), agreed that the application drives a lot of spec decisions for ATUVs, which can include wheeled, tracked and amphibious vehicles. “Fording depth is important, too,” he said. “If [the user has] to go through 3- or 4-foot streams and rivers, we make sure that the machine is set up for the ground clearance and the fording depth to get in and out of those situations.”

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Max Chesnes

Where Sustainability Meets Service: Finding the Right Fit for EVs in Utility Fleets

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For several years, Joe Korn, a truck and alternative fuel consultant with ARI’s (www.arifleet.com) business intelligence and analytics team, has been working with some of the company’s North American customers to implement alternative fuel strategies.

One of his priorities is to provide fleet expertise to clients aiming to bridge the gap between internal combustion engines and battery electric vehicles.

Korn said that, with the proper infrastructure in place, there can be a long-term cost benefit to implementing EVs into utility fleets, and the reduction of fossil fuel emissions is a significant benefit as well.

“I am 100% behind electric vehicles,” Korn said. “There’s been a lot of interest from companies on how to incorporate electric vehicles and other alternative fuels into their fleet and how they can work towards sustainable strategies and lower pollutions.”

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Gary L. Wollenhaupt

Does Your Fleet Need a Data Analyst?

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When Nebraska Public Power District added telematics capabilities to 200 of its work trucks, a few surprises lurked in the early reports.

The data showed the work trucks spent much more time idling than anecdotal evidence from drivers and fleet managers had suggested, according to Matt Gilliland, director of operations for the largest public utility in Nebraska, which serves 91 counties in the state.

That's the kind of insight that utility fleet managers hope to see from adding telematics to their fleet. A vehicle equipped with a telematics device can record and transmit a wide array of information, from engine fault codes to idle time to driver behaviors – like speeding and hard braking – as well as vehicle location.

However, utilities may not have staff with the right skill set to manage and analyze all the data flooding in. Will utilities have to hire new staff to fill those roles, or can the work be tackled in-house? Keep in mind, experts say a continuously connected vehicle generates about 20 GB of data every hour.

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Sean M. Lyden

Shop Talk: Developing Your Continuity of Operations Plan in a COVID-19 World

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If you were to lose one-third of your workforce in the fleet department at any given time due to COVID-19, what would your continuity of operations plan look like? What adjustments would you make?

Dale Collins, fleet services supervisor at Fairfax Water, which serves nearly 2 million customers in Northern Virginia, began posing these "wargaming" questions with his team in early March when it became clear that the pandemic presented a significant health risk to employees, especially the shop technicians who needed to be on-site to help keep the fleet running.

So, what changes have Collins and his team made as part of the water utility’s continuity of operations plan to ensure employee safety while maintaining high service levels for customers?

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Sean M. Lyden

Becoming a Steady, Highly Effective Leader in Uncertain Times

In his “Meditations” nearly 2,000 years ago, Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius gave us a powerful picture of what it looks like to be a leader during a crisis. He wrote, “To be like the rock that the waves keep crashing over. It stands unmoved and the raging of the sea falls still around it.”

As a fleet leader, you’re grappling with the effects of a global pandemic crashing over you and your organization. How do you stay calm and be that rock of stability and confidence so that you can effectively lead your team through the rough seas of these uncertain times?

Over the years in my career as a professional writer, business owner and leader, I’ve encountered more crises than I’d care to admit. But it’s because of those challenges that I’ve been able to develop a mental framework that helps me keep my head together – to think clearly and lead effectively in the face of uncertainty.

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Kate Wade

Reading Service and Crane Bodies

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Reading Truck Body recently unveiled its newly redesigned Aluminum Classic II service body and a brand-new Master Mechanic crane body. Both the Aluminum Classic II and Master Mechanic MM120 and MM220 are built to meet the rugged day-to-day demands customers and fleets experience.

The revamped Aluminum Classic II features a fully redesigned understructure that is rated for up to 19,500 pounds GVWR, more than any other aluminum service body Reading has ever offered. The new body also includes several new industry-leading features and options, like 50-inch raised compartments; CABLOC by Masterack lock-open, lock-close drawers; and key fob integration with the OEM chassis.

Not to be overshadowed is the brand-new Master Mechanic crane body. From the oil field to the construction site, the lightweight MM120 and MM220 crane body equips Class 3-4 chassis with up to 4,000 pounds of lifting power. www.readingbody.com

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Kate Wade

Pettibone Traverse Telehandler

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Pettibone has introduced the Traverse T1246X telehandler, the third Traverse model to join its next-generation X-Series lineup. Traverse is the only telehandler product line on the market with a traversing boom carriage with capability to move loads by traveling horizontally. This exclusive feature allows operators to safely place loads at full lift height without having to coordinate multiple boom functions.

The T1246X has a specified lift height of 46 feet, 6 inches, which exactly matches its landing height. By contrast, traditional fixed boom pivots typically have a true landing height that is several feet less than the advertised lift height, as users must account for withdrawing the forks out of the load with enough rearward travel for the fork tips to clear the landing zone.

The traversing boom of the T1246X provides up to 70 inches of horizontal boom transfer, allowing for a maximum forward reach of 35 feet, 10 inches. The telehandler is powered by a 117-horsepower Cummins QSF 3.8 Tier 4 Final diesel engine that helps it achieve a maximum load capacity of 12,000 pounds. The engine is mounted on a side pod for easy service access while allowing excellent curbside visibility and ground clearance of 19 inches. www.gopettibone.com

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Kate Wade

Spicer Electrified eS9000r e-Axle

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Dana Inc. recently announced the start of production of its Spicer Electrified eS9000r e-Axle for Class 4 and 5 commercial fleet applications. The e-Axle will be available for ordering by vehicle manufacturers in the third quarter of 2020. Dana is the first to market with this e-Axle classification in North America and is the only supplier with the in-house capability to manufacture all components of the system, including the gears, axle, motor and inverter.

Designed for medium-duty truck and bus applications, the e-S9000r is based on the proven and widely specified Spicer S110, S111 and S130 rear drive axle platforms, and is engineered as a fully integrated e-Axle, including a gearbox and motor. The eS9000r is easily incorporated into most existing chassis, reducing driveline complexity while allowing batteries to be located between the frame rails to simplify truck body positioning. The eS9000r axle also incorporates Dana’s patent-pending electronically controlled parking pawl system. www.dana.com

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Kate Wade

Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Engine Oil

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Hot Shot’s Secret has expanded the company’s Green Diamond Fleet Full Synthetic Group III/Group IV engine oil line by rolling out a new 10W-30 blend. Specially formulated for use in diesel-powered vehicles that experience extreme temperatures, heavy loads, stop-and-go operations or high airborne particulates, Green Diamond Fleet is ideal for all diesel-powered light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, construction and industrial equipment, drilling rigs and stationary engines. As a severe-duty diesel oil, it is a replacement for any CF-4, CJ-4, CI-4 or CI-4 Plus specification oil.

Manufactured strictly from Group III and Group IV base oils, it is infused with Hot Shot’s Secret FR3 Nano Technology and a fully formulated CK-4 additive package. This 100% synthetic diesel oil effectively cleans, lubricates and maintains engines and turbos for long-lasting protection, improved performance and fuel economy, and longer oil drain intervals. Additional benefits include improved cold starting, reduced soot, noise and vibration. www.hotshotsecret.com

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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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