UFP Magazine

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What to Consider When Spec’ing Onboard Scales

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Operating an overloaded truck is categorized as a misdemeanor in most U.S. states. Aside from putting the safety of the operator and the public at risk, overloading also can increase fines and lead to premature vehicle wear and tear.

Fortunately, the availability of today’s onboard scale technology can help utility fleet managers ensure trucks operate at a safe weight.

So, what exactly should fleet managers consider when spec’ing onboard scales? Utility Fleet Professional connected with industry professionals who shared insight into selecting the right applications for your fleet.

Benefits of Technology
Nebraska Public Power District has been using onboard scale systems for more than 10 years and currently has approximately 20 scale systems in use between tractor-trailer units and dump trucks.

NPPD’s primary reason for installing the scale systems was to verify loaded axle weights to ensure they were compliant with DOT bridge laws.

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Chicago Auto Show 2019 in Chicago, IL

Chicago Auto Show | February 9-18, 2019 in Chicago, IL

First staged in 1901, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and has been held more times than any other auto exposition on the continent. This year marks the 111th edition of the Chicago Auto Show. The Chicago Auto Show utilizes more than 1 million square feet in the North and South Exhibit Halls of the McCormick Place complex. 

Click here to learn more: chicagoautoshow.com

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Dejana New Plant Visit in Kansas City, MO

Dejana Plant Visit | October 18, 2018 in Kansas City, MO

DEJANA OPENS KANSAS CITY SHIP-THRU FACILITY
Dejana opens 90,000 square foot ship-thru facility in Kansas City, MO. The new facility is entirely underground in the Hunt Midwest Automotive Alley Subtropolois and will primarily install commercial van interiors as well as F150 upfits and accessories that will be shipped to dealerships throughout the United States.

Click here to learn more: https://dejana.com/

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Upper Midwest Utility Fleet Council 2018 Meeting in Kansas City, MO

Upper Midwest Utility Fleet Council 2018 Meeting | October 15 - 17, 2018 in Kansas City, MO

The Upper Midwest Utility Fleet Council (UMUFC) is a group of gas, electric and telecommunications fleet managers who meet twice a year to discuss common problems and learn more about events happening in the profession. The members are drawn from the upper Midwest regions of the United States and Canada including: Iowa, Kansas, Manitoba, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Meetings are generally held the third week in October and April. Annual presentations by truck and auto manufacturers keep the group updated on chassis specifications.

Click here to learn more: umufc.org

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Fleet Con 2018 in Sparks, NV

Fleet Con 2018 | September 10 - 12, 2018 in Sparks, NV

Fleetcon is the fleet education event for all fleet personnel, suppliers, and all types of fleets. Our annual event combines education, networking, and introductions to new technologies, innovations, and solutions. Join others in the fleet industry and learn with - and from - some of the best!

Click here to read more: http://www.fleetcon.org/

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Fleet Management Trends and its Future - Interview with Sean Lyden from Utility Fleet Professional Magazine

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Check out this AUTOsist podcast with UFP editor Sean Lyden where he discusses electrification & other fleet trends! It's episode #11.

Photo by Chase Lewis on Unsplash

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APWA's Public Works Expo 2018 in Kansas City, MO

APWA's Public Works Expo (PWX) Aug 26 - 29, 2018 in Kansas City, MO

PWX provides a first-class multimodal learning experience designed for professionals at all levels and across the entire spectrum of public works. Come prepared to see, hear, touch, and discuss in a variety of traditional and interactive sessions, seminars, workshops, and networking opportunities. Attendees can also spend time on North America's largest exhibit floor for public works equipment and services - we've carved out generous portions of non-compete time so you don't miss any sessions. Kick tires, talk about technology, or get the scoop on new products. You can even step in front of a video camera and tell your very own public works story. To take advantage of everything PWX has to offer  with more than 5,000 public works colleagues from North America and beyond, meet us in Kansas City!

Click here to read more: https://pwx.apwa.net/pwx/Event_Details.aspx

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Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference (EUFMC), June 3-6, 2018 in Williamsburg, VA

EUFMC June 3-6, 2018 in Williamsburg, VA

The Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference (EUFMC) is an educational conference for fleet representatives from investor-owned electric utilities, electric cooperatives and electrical contractors held annually at the Williamsburg Lodge and Conference Center in Williamsburg, Virginia.

EUFMC attracts fleet executives from over 70 companies in the U.S., Canada and South America.

Click here to read more: eufmc.com

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NAFA Institute & Expo, April 24-27, 2018 in Anaheim, CA

NAFA Institute & Expo Jan 24 - 27, 2018 in Anaheim, CA

NAFA’s annual Institute & Expo is the largest event of the fleet management industry! The perfect opportunity to increase your networking power, I&E is the largest community of fleet professionals who attend year after year because they experience I&E’s hands-on value. Attend I&E to get real money-saving, time-saving value!

Click here to read more: nafainstitute.org

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NTEA WorkTruck Show 2018 in Indianapolis, IN

NTEA WorkTruck Show March 6 - 9, 2018 in Indianapolis, IN

The Work Truck Show® is your once-a-year chance to see all of the newest industry products, choose from dozens of industry-focused training courses, and gain access to technical engineering representatives from hundreds of exhibiting companies. Attendees can interact with thousands of industry professionals; set up meetings with current suppliers or customers; find solutions to resolve technical issues; and talk shop with industry peers at special events and receptions.

Click here to read more: http://www.worktruckshow.com/

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2018 Chicago Auto Show in Chicago, IL

Chicago Auto Show Feb 10 - 19, 2018 in Chicago, IL

First staged in 1901, the Chicago Auto Show is the largest auto show in North America and has been held more times than any other auto exposition on the continent. This year marks the 110th edition of the Chicago Auto Show.

Click here to read more: https://www.chicagoautoshow.com/

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ATSSA Traffic Safety Expo in San Antonio, TX

ATSSA Annual Convention and Traffic Expo Jan 28 - 30, 2018 in San Antonio, TX

ATSSA’s Annual Convention & Traffic Expo is the premier event for nearly 3,500 roadway safety professionals and transportation officials from across the USA and around the globe. The convention brings together business leaders, government officials, manufacturers, corporate roadway department personnel and all manner of people involved in nearly every aspect of roadway safety.

Click here to read more: https://www.semashow.com/

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Sean M. Lyden

The Final 3

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Each issue, we ask a fleet professional to share three keys to fleet success.

This issue’s Final 3 participant is Keith Gindoff, manager of fleet and energy services for Duke Energy subsidiary Piedmont Natural Gas (www.piedmontng.com), an energy services company that distributes natural gas to more than a million residential, commercial, industrial and power generation customers in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, with about 1,215 total vehicles in its fleet.

#1. Make data-driven decisions.
“Think of a vehicle as a giant computer, and use the telematics data that the vehicle provides to give you greater insight to make more effective decisions with your fleet. Find a way to generate as much information as possible from the vehicle to optimize your maintenance and replacement schedules for maximum uptime and cost efficiency.” 

#2. Understand the driver’s needs.
“Really get to know the users of the vehicles and assets by going out into the field with them to understand the jobs they need the assets for. When you ask drivers for their opinions and observe for yourself how the vehicle is being used, you will be able to develop much more effective specifications.”

#3. Network with other fleet managers.
“You will learn at a much faster pace if you get to know and work with other fleet managers in your industry. They have already gone through, tested and tried – successfully or unsuccessfully – most of what you will be encountering. So, use their experience and expertise to help you become a more successful fleet manager.”

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Sean M. Lyden

Piedmont Natural Gas Expands Its CNG-Powered Fleet

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When it comes to discussions of alternative fuels and sustainability in utility fleets, electrification often takes center stage.

And for good reason. Electric utilities have a vested interest in selling more of their product – electricity – so it makes sense that they would take the lead by making big investments in electric vehicles (EVs) for their fleets. A major contributor to this trend has been Edison Electric Institute’s Transportation Electrification Initiative, which in late 2014 garnered commitments from more than 70 investor-owned electric utilities to devote at least 5 percent of their annual fleet acquisition budgets to purchase plug-in EVs and equipment.

But utility fleets shouldn’t overlook compressed natural gas (CNG) as part of their green initiatives, said Karl Newlin, senior vice president and chief commercial officer for Duke Energy's natural gas operations, who also oversees the fleet and public fueling station development at Duke subsidiary Piedmont Natural Gas (www.piedmontng.com), which serves more than a million residential, commercial, industrial and power generation customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

That’s because natural gas not only burns much cleaner than gasoline and diesel, but it also offers – at least historically – more stable pricing than conventional fossil fuels, giving fleets a greater sense of predictability with fuel costs.

Piedmont launched its fleet CNG program in 2009 with 12 natural-gas-powered Ford F-150 pickup trucks. Today, the utility operates 469 natural gas vehicles – more than a third of its total fleet of 1,215 vehicles. And in August, Piedmont expects to open its 11th natural gas filling station available to the public.

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Sean M. Lyden

What’s New in Digging Machines for Utility Fleets

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When you need to dig trenches to lay underground gas lines, or drill holes for setting transmission poles, or be able to dig in tight spaces, the objective is the same: to have crews get the most work done in the least amount of time, with the least amount of effort and cost. 

That’s the goal that has driven the development of several new products and upgrades released by top heavy-equipment manufacturers in the past few months. 

So, what new digging machines and tools have recently come to market? How can they equip utility companies and contractors to boost productivity and profit? Here are seven new developments to keep your eye on. 

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What’s New: Six New Mini Excavator Models
Website: www.casece.com

This spring, CASE Construction Equipment introduced six new mini excavator models: the CX17C, CX26C, CX33C, CX37C, CX57C and CX60C. Offered in zero tail-swing, short-radius or conventional configurations, C Series mini excavators feature an adjustable boom with the ability to offset left or right to work closer to buildings and obstacles. An auto-shift travel system offers greater ease and efficiency when operating the machine on varying terrain. 

All C Series mini excavators are built with an auxiliary hydraulic system that features standard proportional controls, shut-off valve and easy-to-select joystick control patterns to equip operators to get more done in less time. A spacious and comfortable operator environment – with ergonomic controls, adjustable seating and line-of-sight digital displays – helps minimize operator fatigue. 

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Grace Suizo

Technology Helps Fleets Streamline Maintenance Operations

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Where fleet maintenance is concerned, technology providers including Decisiv (www.decisiv.com) and Zonar Systems (www.zonarsystems.com) have been working with utilities to maximize visibility, consistency and transparency, among other things.

“Those actually go right to your bottom line because you reduce costs, you reduce downtime, and you make everybody more effective and the whole process more efficient,” said Michael Riemer, vice president of product and channel marketing for Decisiv.

Decreasing Downtime
Reducing downtime is a primary goal of nearly every utility fleet manager since it is a huge productivity killer.

“If your asset is down for two days but should only be down for two hours, that's a huge cost,” Riemer said.

One of the biggest culprits contributing to unnecessary downtime are inefficient and often outdated paper-based systems and communication methods. Much of the time involved in a service event – from the time someone realizes an asset is broken to the time it’s back in service – has nothing to do with fixing the asset, Riemer noted. “It’s all the other things: the talking, the paper finding, the communicating, the scheduling. It’s a highly inefficient process which dramatically increases downtime,” he said.

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Fiona Soltes

Strategies to Reduce Fuel Theft and Fuel Card Misuse

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Yes, it could happen: A nefarious individual could approach one of your pieces of equipment parked on the lot and siphon fuel right from the tank.

What is perhaps more likely, though, is loss due to improperly used fuel cards.

“By and large, employees do the right thing,” said Geoff Scalf, director of global energy business development at Telogis (www.telogis.com). “But you will have some employees who will make poor choices.”

Leveraging the proper technology and techniques can help ensure fuel theft is kept to a minimum.

It’s important that employees understand what the proper use of fuel cards means. Aside from using the cards to fill up personal vehicles, Scalf said he often hears of employees who travel in groups and don’t think twice about using one employee’s card to fill up several vehicles at once. There’s nothing fraudulent about that sort of misuse, but it can make for messy paperwork, numbers that don’t add up and misallocation of funds in the future. Another example of misuse: when an employee pulls a trailer with, say, a backhoe loaded onto it, and then uses the card to top off both the truck and backhoe without changing any codes in the system.

Telogis Fleet offers one way to keep closer tabs on misuse, whether or not it was intentional. The Telogis platform includes a module that gives increased visibility into fuel usage.

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Sandy Smith

Renting vs. Buying Heavy Equipment

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It’s a common occurrence for utilities and contractors: A piece of heavy equipment is needed, but it’s not immediately available in the fleet, so the project manager rents what’s required. But that may not always be the right strategy – especially when the rental is done outside the fleet manager’s purview.

“I have seen cases where equipment was rented for lengths up to 27 months and turned back in to the rental store,” said Daniel Fitzpatrick, fleet manager for NorthWestern Energy, which provides electricity and natural gas to more than 700,000 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. “When this happens, you lose any rental credit and the equipment.”

Paul Lauria, president of fleet management consulting firm Mercury Associates (http://mercury-assoc.com/), has seen it too. “One of the problems we see, particularly in utility companies, is they allow business units to rent equipment to fill a temporary need,” he said. “Two years later, the rental unit is still in the fleet and no one has been paying attention. It would have been cheaper to purchase and then dispose of it.”

Granted, haggling over a purchase or evaluating the merits of rental versus ownership may not make sense when thousands of customers are without service. So, while there likely are no hard and fast rules that utilities can develop to address this issue, following some broad principles can help.

“It makes financial sense to own your equipment,” Fitzpatrick said. He tries to purchase any rental equipment at a reduced price when the rental ends, or when money has become available. “Where a buyout is not an option, focus on the interest rate and controlling costs in the short term.”

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Sean M. Lyden

When Does it Make Sense to Outsource Maintenance?

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Even if you have a robust in-house repair shop, chances are that you still outsource portions of your maintenance operations – to save money, quickly fill gaps left by technicians who’ve recently retired or tap into specialized expertise to perform critical repairs.

But how do you determine which aspects of your maintenance operations make the most sense to outsource and which ones you should keep in-house?

UFP recently posed this question to Paul Lauria, who has worked with numerous government and utility fleets for more than three decades as president of Mercury Associates Inc. (www.mercury-assoc.com), a fleet management consulting firm based in Rockville, Md. He offered these four points to consider.

1. Cost
How much money will outsourcing actually save the organization?

“The only way that you're going to be able to determine if you're saving money is to know the costs of performing outsourceable fleet maintenance and repair activities in-house versus farming them out to a vendor or contractor,” Lauria said. “And that's one thing, in my experience, that a lot of organizations, including utilities, don't have a good handle on. What are the avoidable costs of operating its own garages or of performing a particular type of maintenance or repair activity, for example? If you were to shut down or downsize those garages and shift work to third-party service providers, what costs would go away? That establishes the baseline for determining whether or not you can save money by outsourcing.”

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Sean M. Lyden

3 Takeaways to Expect from Utility Fleet Conference 2017

Utility Fleet Conference 2017 exists to provide a forum that challenges us in the utility fleet industry to change ourselves – to learn, grow and adapt in an environment where so much change is happening so quickly.

Think about it: Emerging technologies like self-driving systems, connected vehicles and drones are already here and just beginning to make an impact on your fleet – and how you do business. And, as more older fleet workers and technicians prepare for retirement, you have to compete even harder to find workers who are qualified to fill those roles.

The reality is that yesterday’s knowledge, skills and strategies are not enough to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. We must grow.

But what should we learn? And how can we apply that new knowledge to equip ourselves for long-term success?

Start by attending Utility Fleet Conference 2017 (www.utilityfleetconference.com) October 2-4 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., and expect to leave with these three important takeaways.

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