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UFP Magazine

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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David Cullen

PG&E: Data-Driven Shop Operations

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In his role as senior director of shared services: transportation for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), Michael Glover is responsible for everything from field operations and strategic planning to purchasing, telematics and information technology systems for the largest and most diverse utility fleet in the U.S.

The San Francisco-based utility provides natural gas and electricity to 5.2 million customers in an over 70,000-square-mile territory covering the northern two-thirds of California. Its operations are supported by more than 15,500 fleet assets, which are kept rolling by over 350 operational and maintenance employees working out of 63 locations. The asset count includes 10,000 Class 1 through Class 8 over-the-road trucks as well as construction and off-road equipment.

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David Cullen

How Leasing May Smooth the Electric Transition

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It may be too early in the game for fleet operators to factor in the impact of battery-electric trucks on maintenance costs and resale values.

Some experts hold that the cost of maintenance may be lower thanks to fewer moving parts on electric vehicles, yet it may be higher for other aspects, such as future battery replacements. But they also contend that the savings generated from not consuming diesel fuel may make maintenance costs a wash initially, and then they will improve in favor of battery-electric vehicles as rising demand brings down acquisition costs. Another factor to consider is fear over accurately predicting future resale values for battery-electric trucks.

Will all that in mind, a utility fleet may want to consider leasing versus buying their first batches of medium- to heavy-duty electric vehicles, such as bucket trucks and Class 8 on-highway haulers.

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David Cullen

SoCal Edison: Taking a Hands-On Approach to Running Battery-Electric Trucks

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Even for an electric utility, converting to battery-electric trucks is no flip of a switch. At Southern California Edison, changing over from diesel to electric is a step-by-step process to determine how best to reduce harmful exhaust emissions from its commercial vehicles.

Rosemead, California-based SCE is steadily working toward the goals set by its parent, Edison International, to electrify 100% of its light-duty passenger vehicles, 60% of its forklifts, 30% of its medium-duty vehicles and pickup trucks, and 8% of its heavy-duty trucks by 2030.

Edison International estimates that by “pursuing its fleet electrification goals, it will save more than 620,000 gallons of fuel annually and eliminate close to 6,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year.”

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