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UFP Magazine

Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Who is Your Customer?

But first, this public service announcement.

If your organization doesn’t already have a policy on energy drinks, you should do the research and develop one. I had long been skeptical of energy drinks because I know that anything that artificially enhances body function always comes with consequences, especially if it’s overused. It’s no different than any prescription drug that supplants the body’s failed functions. There are always side effects. With heat stress or any other kind of stress, the body gets tired, which is how it tells you that it’s exhausted and needs rest to repair itself. If we artificially stimulate the body to ignore those signals, the outcome is not just bad – it can and has become deadly.

In the years of the energy drink boom, I was a contractor. On two occasions, I had healthy 20-somethings helicoptered to hospitals from remote areas after they collapsed and displayed symptoms of a heart attack or stroke. Both instances occurred in over 100-degree work environments. On each occasion, at the paramedics’ request, we looked for and found a cooler full of energy drinks. The victims couldn’t answer questions, but the paramedics had already seen the symptoms and needed to know if that was what they were dealing with.

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Sean M. Lyden

Planning Your Fleet’s Transition to EVs

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All major automakers have recently announced their commitments to selling only electric-drive vehicles by 2035. And that shift will bring new opportunities and challenges for utility fleets.

It will force you to change how you spec vehicles, manage “fueling” infrastructure, train your technicians and support crews in storm response situations.

So, where do you start? How do you plan for such a large-scale change effort? What should you be thinking about today to set up your fleet for success in the next decade?

UFP recently spoke with Brent Johnson, principal and co-founder at Sage Energy Consulting Inc. (www.sagerenew.com), an energy planning and project management firm. He offered these six factors to keep in mind as you prepare your fleet for an all-electric future.

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Sean M. Lyden

What’s New in Lifting Equipment for Utility Fleets in 2021

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Lifting height, capacity, stability and range – these are all critical factors utility fleet professionals consider when spec’ing aerial platforms, cranes and other heavy-lifting equipment. They’re also looking for enhancements to machine safety, longevity and efficiency.

So, what new products in the lifting equipment space have emerged in the past year to help fleet managers improve their fleet’s performance? Here are seven developments to watch.

Terex Utilities
What’s New: Hi-Ranger TL48 telescopic aerial device for trouble truck applications
Website: www.terex.com/utilities

Terex Utilities’ new Hi-Ranger TL48 telescopic aerial device achieves a 53-foot maximum working height on a medium-duty chassis for utility trouble trucks.

“Utility customers were looking for material-handling capability throughout the work zone to accomplish switch work, small transformer replacements, insulator maintenance and other tasks without having to reposition the truck. This need was not being met on super-duty class vehicles and current products that were in the market – until now,” said Joe Caywood, Terex’s marketing director.

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Sandy Smith

Top Trends to Watch in Commercial Truck Tires

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As director of strategic alliances for Element Fleet Management (www.elementfleet.com), Kerry Wenthin often hears concerns about tire performance.

Ask him what he’s hoping to see in terms of innovation, and it comes down to value. “Longer-lasting and cost-conscious products for the high mileage and demanding usage patterns in the light-truck service and delivery segment will always be welcome,” Wenthin said.

He gives credit to tire manufacturers, who he says have “done a great job launching new products and product line extensions to fill gaps and provide additional offerings in high-demand sizes and at various price points.”

But there is always room for improvement, and manufacturers like Bridgestone Americas (www.bridgestoneamericas.com) and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (www.goodyear.com) continue to innovate. UFP recently spoke with representatives from both companies, who shared emerging trends that they suggest fleet professionals keep an eye on.

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Grace Suizo

What’s New in All-Terrain Vehicles for Utility Fleets

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Utilities have a number of different options available to help their crews get work done in hard-to-reach areas, in harsh weather conditions and on rough terrain. Since new equipment is regularly being introduced to the marketplace, it’s important for utilities to stay up to date about what they have to choose from. Check out these new developments from four manufacturers in the all-terrain vehicle space.

Hydratrek
What’s New: Engine and system updates for the D2488B and XTB66
Website: https://hydratrek.com

Built for the power, oil and gas, and public safety industries, the D2488B recently had its engine updated to the 115-horsepower Kubota V3800-TEF4. The Tier 4 Final diesel engine is controlled by a Murphy PowerView 485 LCD display that allows the operator to access a multitude of information for the engine system, including maintenance intervals.

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Gary L. Wollenhaupt

Best Practices for Training Utility Fleet Drivers to Cut Engine Idling

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Most fleet professionals understand the benefits of idle reduction. It's the lowest of the low-hanging fruit.

Unfortunately, too many fleet managers and drivers still believe certain old-school conventional wisdom, like starting a truck uses more fuel than letting it idle.

Up-to-date research pokes holes in those old beliefs, but it can be hard to change minds. Various programs are available to help fleets build new policies and procedures to make the training stick. Yet it's difficult to break old habits and create new ones.

For fleet managers, there doesn't seem to be a downside to reducing idling. There's a direct correlation between reducing carbon dioxide pollution and fuel use. Each gallon of fuel burned produces about 20 pounds of CO2. Reducing emissions also lowers fuel costs.

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David Cullen

How to Retain Technicians in a Tight Labor Market

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Exactly when we can state with certainty that America has emerged from the coronavirus pandemic is yet unknown. But much of the country is opening again, albeit cautiously.

Businesses are taking stock of what they must do to get back up to speed. In some cases, that means looking to hire new workers to replace those who were laid off at the peak of the pandemic or who left jobs voluntarily for their health or to care for family members stricken with the virus.

As utility fleet managers know, well before the pandemic roared into the U.S., there was a technician shortage already impacting every type of truck operation, from bucket trucks to highway rigs. A good tech is hard to find, and once they’re on board, keeping them there is a constant responsibility for managers.

So, what can you do now to keep more techs happily employed – working for you, that is? The answer is that, if fleet managers pay attention to the individual concerns and attitudes of all techs in their shops and respond to any issues that arise, it’s highly likely the fleet department will not have retention issues.

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Karen Scallly

How a Major Utility Fleet Moved to Predictive Maintenance

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At first, Entergy’s plan was fairly simple.

Chris Morrow, fleet assets superintendent for the New Orleans-based electric utility, said the company knew they wanted to move away from time-based preventive maintenance for their 6,000-unit fleet to a service program that was more usage-based.

What they have since discovered is that the power of telematics and data analysis can unlock a predictive model for fleet maintenance.

Predictive maintenance has helped them flag problems prior to major equipment failures, reduce unplanned downtime and parts spending, and refocus technicians on diagnostic work instead of lengthy repairs. All of these benefits have resulted in significant savings.

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Sean M. Lyden

Making the Best of the Way Things Turn Out

The delta variant. Automotive plant shutdowns. Order-to-delivery delays.

So much is in flux right now. And that’s when uncertainty and anxiety often begin to deplete our energy and cloud our judgment.

But in times like these, I’m reminded of a powerful quote by the legendary basketball coach John Wooden, who said, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

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Kate Wade

Elliott E150i Aerial Work Platform

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Elliott's new E150i is five machines in one. Designed to maximize utilization and versatility, the E150i can be configured as follows: a 130-foot telescopic material-handling aerial; a 150-foot articulating steel construction aerial; a 150-foot articulating 500-kV live-line aerial; a 60-degree over-center articulating substation aerial; and a main boom material handler.

Key to this is Elliott's hot-swap technology, which allows the user to interchange booms and platforms depending on the application. This enables users to literally turn a 500-kV articulating aerial work platform into a telescopic material handler in a matter of minutes. The ability to swap a fiberglass 500-kV boom with a steel boom allows crews to configure the machine for proper use each day. This flexibility maximizes utilization and minimizes the user's capital cost.

The E150i is also loaded with other features, such as EZ Crib outriggers to reduce the need for cribbing, Bluetooth remote diagnostics and hydraulic tool circuits. It is backed by a lifetime structural warranty. https://elliottequip.com

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Kate Wade

Tessco Fleet Solutions

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Providing fleet teams with the tools to efficiently do their jobs while in the field is a must. A well-constructed, ergonomically designed mobile environment built with best-in-class products ensures a high-performing and productive outcome.

Whether you’re looking for an all-in-one solution built with the highest safety and quality standards, enhanced user comfort, or portability and on-the-go flexibility, Tessco has the products – including rugged laptops and tablets, consoles and mounting equipment, and mobile antennas – needed to keep fleets powered, connected and productive. www.tessco.com

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Kate Wade

Miller EnPak A60 Solution for Class 5-7 Work Trucks

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Miller Electric Mfg. LLC, a leading worldwide manufacturer of Miller brand arc welding equipment, has announced the release of the new EnPak A60 solution. The EnPak A60 power system provides integrated multiprocess welding, battery charge/crank assist, compressed air, hydraulic power and electric power.

It also includes an industry-exclusive turbocharged diesel engine, which delivers high torque at lower speeds. This delivers performance in every environment – even at high elevations – so operators have the power they need to work anywhere.

In addition, the EnPak A60 features an LCD control panel that improves the user experience, gives full visibility to the system and empowers technicians to manage power needs. The intuitive dashboard shows key performance indicators of all EnPak A60 systems and lets operators change settings and configurations quickly and easily. Power Priority also enables operators to maximize available power by prioritizing the air compressor or hydraulic system based on what’s important for optimal tool performance. www.millerwelds.com

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Kate Wade

Pettibone Launches X-Command Telematics

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Pettibone has introduced X-Command, a new telematics program available for the company’s X-Series telehandlers, Cary-Lift pipe and pole handlers, and Speed Swing rail maintenance machines. The system offers real-time access to machine data, saving time, money and hassle for equipment owners, fleet managers, rental centers and maintenance technicians.

X-Command allows users to remotely track a machine’s location and observe data points such as engine hours, fuel rate and usage, diesel exhaust fluid level and battery voltage. By obtaining accurate and current performance information, users can quickly identify and address minor mechanical issues before they become serious.

Equipment owners can access data and generate reports using the online X-Command dashboard on their computer or mobile device. The platform allows for quick and simple remote diagnosis of a telematics-equipped machine, potentially eliminating the need for certain field service calls. By ensuring maintenance is up to date, users can consistently increase equipment uptime and improve their overall return on investment. www.gopettibone.com

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Writing an ATV/UTV Operating Safety Policy

This installment of “Focus on Fleet Safety” is a little bit different than usual in that we are going to write an operating safety policy. There are two goals here: to help you learn to develop policies that make a difference, and to prevent wrecked all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility task vehicles (UTVs) on your job sites.

Over the last few decades, ATVs and UTVs have taken on a significant role in remote site access and large yard transportation. What have also occurred over the last few decades are serious and occasionally fatal injuries from the operation of ATVs and UTVs. In my own experience as a former transmission line contractor, we only had a few incidents with UTVs, but it was on every job where we used them. In my time since, I have received calls every year regarding incidents related to UTVs. They are probably involved more often because ATVs are not as useful on rights-of-way as they are in yards where managers employ them to get around more efficiently. In this article, we are going to discuss the elements of an ATV/UTV policy designed to address the most common issues related to ATV/UTV wrecks and how they can be prevented.

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Sean M. Lyden

What’s New in Digging Machines for Utility Fleets

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Whether the job is digging trenches, drilling holes or digging in confined areas, you’re looking for machines and tools that can help your customers – the business units your department serves at your company – increase crew productivity at lower operating costs.

Those are also the goals that many heavy-equipment manufacturers have in mind as they design and develop new digging machines and accessories.

So, what’s new in digging machines for utility fleets this year? Here are six new developments to watch.

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Sean M. Lyden

An Electric Pickup to Watch: The Ford F-150 Lightning

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In May, Ford unveiled its all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup, joining GM, Tesla, Rivian and others racing to bring an affordable and practical battery-powered truck to the mainstream market.

The truck is expected to arrive in spring 2022 with four models and two battery options. Within three weeks of Ford’s announcement, the F-150 Lightning had surpassed 100,000 reservations (which can be made for $100 at www.ford.com/trucks/f150/f150-lightning/2022/).

So, what does this new entry in the electric truck race mean for utility fleets? Will it be practical for fleet applications? Here’s what we know about the F-150 Lightning so far.

What’s the price?
The Pro work truck model starts at $39,974 MSRP before any federal or state tax credits (or fleet incentives), while the mid-series XLT model starts at $52,974 MSRP.

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Sean M. Lyden

Electric Vehicle Roadblocks to Widespread Fleet Adoption

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There’s a ton of press right now about how the future of transportation is all-electric.

And all major automakers have signaled with big investments that they’re going all-in on electric vehicles (EVs).

But a number of things still need to come together to make electrification practical on a large scale. Plus, fleet managers have valid concerns about how to make the transition.

What are some of the biggest EV challenges to widespread fleet adoption? And what do fleets, utility companies, OEMs and policymakers need to think about to address those challenges?

UFP recently spoke with George Survant – the principal at Fleet Mace Consulting and a fleet leader in the utility and telecom industry for over four decades – to get his perspective.

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Grace Suizo

Spec’ing a Detachable Gooseneck Trailer

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Minnkota Power Cooperative, an electric generation and transmission cooperative headquartered in Grand Forks, North Dakota, recently replaced its antiquated mechanical detachable gooseneck semitrailer with a new unit.

The old trailer, used approximately 10 times a year for the past 20 years, was replaced by a new model from Felling Trailers (www.felling.com). UFP recently spoke with Keith Millette, fleet supervisor for Minnkota Power Cooperative, and Laurie Engle, sales representative for Felling Trailers, who shared how they worked together on the spec’ing process.

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Gary L. Wollenhaupt

Use New Tech to Manage Fleet Fuel Costs More Effectively

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Despite all the technology available in today's utility trucks, the most critical connection is still between the driver's brain and foot.

But OEMs and the aftermarket are also offering tools to monitor driver and vehicle performance, and upgraded equipment can reduce the need for idling. Making smart fleet acquisition decisions can pay off as well.

American Idle
As fuel prices rise, cutting back on idling is low-hanging fruit that fleets can grab to make quick improvement. In the typical fleet, idling behavior accounts for 40% of engine hours, according to Ron Zima, founder and CEO of GoGreen Communications Inc. and a consultant known as the Idle Free Guy.

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Sandy Smith

Will Your Fleet Need to Rightsize in a Post-Pandemic World?

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When the pandemic hit the U.S. in early 2020, the impact on utility fleets was swift. Even though utility work continued as an essential service, fleets had to adapt. Social distancing meant crews could no longer pile into one vehicle safely. Many light-duty vehicles were parked as some employees switched to home bases.

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) was not immune to these changes. “As much as we could, we took the vehicles that were not being utilized as much because their owner or assignee had started to telecommute, and we assigned them to crews so they didn’t have to have multiples in the vehicle often,” said Matt Gilliland, director of operations support for the publicly owned utility that covers at least part of 86 Nebraska counties. This shift was in addition to regular vehicle cleanings, deep cleaning whenever a vehicle was serviced and sending cleaning equipment stockpiles throughout the state for use.

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