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UFP Magazine

Sean M. Lyden

The State of the All-Electric Pickup Race

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The state of the all-electric pickup race has changed considerably in just one year.

Last January, the Ohio-based startup Lordstown Motors was poised to take the inside lane to produce the first-ever all-electric pickup with its Endurance truck.

But then allegations of fraud in the spring and a subsequent Department of Justice investigation hammered the stock and led to the resignations of the CEO and other key leaders. The company is now on life support with dim prospects of ever producing a pickup. 

Meanwhile, Amazon-backed Rivian, another startup, became the first to market in September with its R1T all-electric pickup. And GM launched its Edition 1 model GMC Hummer EV in December.

Ford, which introduced the F-150 Lightning last May, expects to begin producing the electric pickup this spring. Chevrolet announced in January that its Silverado EV would launch next spring.

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Gary L. Wollenhaupt

Top Trends to Watch in Fleet Technologies

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As electric light-duty trucks and vans begin to be delivered to customers, fleet managers are keeping a close eye on emerging technologies that could reshape operations over the next year or two.

Battery-electric vehicles are some of the hottest tech to hit the market, especially for utilities that have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. But they’re in short supply, as are gas and diesel vehicles, due to the semiconductor shortages that have hampered vehicle production worldwide.

Another top trend is analyzing the billions of data points from connected vehicles to help guide not only fleet acquisition and rationalization but driver performance as well.

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Grace Suizo

Upfitting Utility Service Vans with Maximum Safety in Mind

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One of the most common mistakes fleet managers make when upfitting service vans is not leveraging their operators’ input on what works well – and what doesn’t – with the vehicles, according to Mark Stumne, director of truck services for Element Fleet Management (www.elementfleet.com).

So, what better way to gain a clearer understanding of their safety needs than to watch them in action? That’s how Adrian Steel (www.adriansteel.com) – which offers cargo management solutions for commercial vehicles – kicks things off, according to Adam Gregory, the company’s sales engineering manager.

“Our process is to first engage the technician and watch him or her do the job,” he said. “Ask them how to make it better. They are experts in how and what they do, and it is important that [fleet managers] take the time to understand how it connects to the bigger picture.”

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David Cullen

EV Decision-Making: Telematics to the Rescue

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A utility fleet manager who is considering integrating electric vehicles into their operation faces a range of questions, including how telematics data will be tapped when running a mix of trucks powered by either internal combustion engines or electric drivetrains.

In other words, will it be difficult to blend the data streams from these two vehicle types to continue conducting a singular equipment analysis to gain overall fleet cost/performance insights? Or will the information gleaned from the two fleet segments have to be analyzed separately? Further, is analytical software sophisticated enough to present integrated data for the whole fleet as well as separated by power source?

Tracking brake cost and performance is just one example of this conundrum. If brake wear is less on EVs, thanks to regenerative braking, would the fleet have to analyze EV and ICE brake system separately?

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Sean M. Lyden

Leadership Strategies: 6 Persuasion Principles to Win People Over

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Dr. Robert Cialdini’s seminal work, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” first published in 1984, is a must-read for anyone in leadership – including fleet professionals – because your career success hinges on your ability to influence, persuade and win people over to your proposals and point of view.

Here’s an overview of Cialdini’s six persuasion principles and how you might apply them in fleet management situations.

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David Cullen

Smoothing the Technician Transition to EVs

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Once a utility opts to add electric vehicles to its fleet, the fleet manager must determine not only which vehicles are best suited to the operation, but also how best to smooth the transition in terms of shop equipment and – most importantly – EV training for technicians.

Even before EVs rolled onto the scene, techs were getting harder to find and keep. Adding EVs means installing new shop equipment and charging infrastructure as well as upgrading technicians’ expertise to service the vehicles. To keep techs on board with these changes, the fleet manager must successfully communicate why EVs are being added and how receiving related service training can only boost their careers.

So, what can fleet managers start doing now to ease the transition to new shop equipment and added tech training? Chris Hough, Penske Truck Leasing’s vice president of maintenance design and engineering, recently offered his perspective. A nationwide truck lessor, Penske (www.pensketruckleasing.com) is a recognized hands-on leader of fleet electrification in the trucking industry.

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Sean M. Lyden

Navigating Post-Pandemic Challenges

As we head into spring, the fleet industry is starting to get back to some sort of normalcy after what has felt like a two-year winter.

After skipping last year, the NTEA Work Truck Show is back in Indianapolis in March. And EUFMC returns to Williamsburg, Virginia, in June after a two-year hiatus.

But some pandemic effects appear likely to linger for the next several months and into next year.

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Kate Wade

Bigfoot Guardian Outrigger Pads

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Bigfoot’s Guardian Pads use embedded light strips that absorb energy during daylight, then glow brightly at night. Just 20 minutes of exposure to natural light will let the strips shine for eight to 10 hours in the dark, greatly reducing tripping hazards. Guardian Pads are made of the same strong, maintenance-free custom composite material that has earned Bigfoot its name and reputation in safety throughout the heavy equipment industry. Guardian Pads can be ordered in any of the same standard sizes and capacities as other Bigfoot composite pads and are guaranteed for life. Bigfoot also works with the user to customize pads to meet any specialized needs that the job site demands. www.outriggerpads.com

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Kate Wade

Felling Air Tilt Product Line

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The Felling Trailers’ Air Tilt model has undergone design modifications to increase operator ease of use and safety.

One of the more notable updates is the fixed approach ramp, which has been extended in length from 14 inches to 22 inches. Extending the fixed approach ramp's length reduced the load angle by approximately 10 degrees, providing a better load angle with a more subtle breakover point. The new design also allows for the option of full-size oval recessed strobe lights.

The Air Tilt product line was first released to the trailer industry in early 2010. Initially, the model line consisted of the FT-40-2 TA and FT-50-3 TA. Over the past 10-plus years, the line has expanded to offer six models, with payload capacities ranging from 19,700 pounds to 50,000 pounds. The Air Tilt’s unique design utilizes air – powered from the tow vehicle – to tilt the trailer and optional ramps, eliminating the need for hydraulics. The air power from the tow vehicle fills two airbags (or an optional four airbags), which then raise the trailer smoothly. The airbags will then keep the deck in the tilted position to allow for loading/unloading of multiple pieces of equipment. Superior towing capability and balance were achieved by placing the axles farther back on the Air Tilt model than other tilt trailers on the market. www.felling.com

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Kate Wade

CARB Chair to Present Green Truck Summit Keynote

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Liane Randolph, chair of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), will deliver the keynote address at the Green Truck Summit, a full-day program focused on clean energy trends for commercial vehicles held as part of Work Truck Week 2022. John Davis, creator, host and executive producer of MotorWeek, will return as emcee. New this year is a full slate of short breakout sessions in the afternoon.

Work Truck Week, North America’s largest work truck event, runs March 8-11 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. The Green Truck Summit is March 8 at the JW Marriott Indianapolis, adjacent to the convention center. Education sessions run March 8-10 and the exhibit hall is open March 9-11.

Green Truck Summit brings together government, educators, fleets and innovators to provide updates on the work truck industry’s path to zero emissions. Sessions offer operational insights for vocational truck fleet managers as well as perspectives on the evolution of commercial vehicles and advanced technology development. www.worktruckweek.com/greentrucksummit

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Kate Wade

Tech Tips from Terex Utilities

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Terex Utilities regularly distributes Tech Tips about troubleshooting, inspecting and maintaining aerial devices and digger derricks. In 2021, the Terex Utilities Services Department shared 26 new tips, making a total of 169 Tech Tips available on the company’s website. The 26 new tips were downloaded more than 1,000 times.

Each Tech Tip identifies what the service call is, the tools required and which Terex Utilities models it applies to. In many cases, photos are also provided.

The seven most downloaded Tech Tips of 2021 were #138 Troubleshooting TM Leveling with Generator Style Leveling; #148 A Popping or Cracking Noise that Appears to be Coming from the Mast or Pedestal Area; #89 Removal of Stuck/Frozen Outrigger Pins; #135 Setting HOP on General Digger Derrick; #151 Ways to Attach Non-Conductive Hoses to Pull Through a Boom; #157 Fitting Torque Chart; and #91 Planetary Slip Brake Rotation.

These and other technical support documents are available online at the Technical Support tab at www.terex.com/utilities, or users can sign up to receive email notifications at www.terex.com/utilities/en/links/preferences. www.terex.com/utilities

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Kate Wade

Brigade Mobile Digital Recording Systems

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Brigade’s Mobile Digital Recording (MDR) systems capture footage from up to eight vehicle-mounted cameras. The MDR range includes models with 4G-connectivity capabilities, allowing data to be accessed from the recorder without having to physically go to the vehicle. In order to take full advantage of the benefits of 4G connectivity, Brigade now provides Bridge, a fully managed service for 4G-enabled systems so that operators do not have to set up and maintain their own servers and manage SIMs and mobile data.

The benefits of having remote access to the MDR can include playback of historical footage and metadata from the MDR or server; vehicle tracking; live view of vehicle cameras and metadata; downloadable footage; geo-fencing; and optional email notifications of triggered alarms. https://brigade-electronics.com

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Kate Wade

Hot Shot’s Secret Blue Diamond Engine Oil

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Hot Shot’s Secret, a leading brand of high-performance additives and specialty oils developed with nano-lubricant technology, has expanded their Blue Diamond PAO diesel engine oil line with a new 10w-30 offering for heavy-duty-use diesel-powered vehicles

All Hot Shot’s Secret Blue Diamond Oils utilize 100% poly-alpha-olefin (PAO) Group IV synthetic oil and high-quality Group V esters for a 100% synthetic formula. Previously introduced in two viscosities, 15w-40 and 5w-40, this new 10w-30 viscosity expands the Blue Diamond oil line to meet additional engine oil specifications.

By using 100% synthetic Group IV and Group V base oils, a robust CK-4 additive package and the infusion of patented FR3 nano-lubricant technology, Blue Diamond PAO 10w-30 oil provides an unsurpassed level of longevity and performance unlike other synthetic oils. Benefits include improved starting, increased power and fuel economy, reduced soot, extended engine life and reduced friction.

With improved oxidation, shearing and thermal stability, Blue Diamond 10w-30 is a more fortified oil than competitive brands. It resists breakdown, allowing for longer drain intervals, while reducing engine wear up to 71% better than CJ-4 specifications. Oil change intervals can be extended up to every 50,000 to 100,000 miles if the oil is monitored every 10,000 miles for the total base number. www.hotshotsecret.com

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

Containing Contagions in Close Quarters

Pandemic preparation is nothing new. In fact, I have been telling employers since the 1980s that a pandemic plan is one of the business/safety mechanisms they should have in place. It’s just good practice to address and interrupt a contagion that could potentially immobilize the employer’s workforce.

The United States has been researching pandemic responses since a swine flu outbreak in 1976, but few if any publications back then addressed workforce contagions. The earliest literature on organized pandemic responses appeared around 1976 when the U.S. government established formal research panels to develop a nationwide response to a pandemic threat. The panels performed research and modeling activities and revised and expanded both research and national immunization programs in response to new threats, such as the avian flu in 1997, anthrax in 2001 and SARS in 2003. Even though U.S. government literature mentioned bioterror as a concern following the avian flu outbreak, the anthrax event was a homegrown bioterror event that raised the stakes.

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Sean M. Lyden

What Utility Fleets Can Do to Improve Driver Safety Performance

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How much does a vehicle collision cost your company in property damage, health care expenses, lost worker days, legal fees, and other direct and indirect costs?

According to the latest report by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, available at https://trafficsafety.org, U.S. employers across various industries paid:

  • $26,081 per crash in property damage.
  • $78,418 per injury.
  • $751,382 per fatality.

These numbers may or may not reflect your company’s data. But they do provide a useful frame of reference to drive home the fact that a strong commitment to driver safety protects not only drivers but also your company’s reputation and bottom line.

After all, when a truck displaying a utility’s logo hits another vehicle or a pedestrian, it becomes a prime target for media attention and legal action.

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Sean M. Lyden

An Electric Pickup to Watch: The 2022 Rivian R1T

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In recent months, Ford and GM have unveiled their concept models with plans to build an all-electric full-size pickup truck beginning next year.

But there’s one OEM with actual electric truck production models on the roads right now.

It’s Rivian (https://rivian.com), an Irvine, California-based startup that raised $10.5 billion and recently filed to go public.

And the company’s first R1T electric pickup truck, offering a range of about 300 miles, rolled off the assembly line in Normal, Illinois, on September 14.

The price tag starting at $67,500 is a barrier to widespread fleet adoption. But the capabilities of this first-to-market electric truck offer a glimpse of what’s possible for utility fleet applications in the coming years.

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Sandy Smith

Using Telematics to Drive Fleet Safety Improvements

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As director of product strategy and telematics at Element Fleet Management (www.elementfleet.com), Kimberly Clark knows exactly how her utility fleet clients are using telematics to improve safety.

In a recent interview with UFP, Clark described a couple of scenarios that have benefited those clients. One – a 4,000-unit energy utility fleet – uses “in-cab feedback and beeping alerts to notify its drivers when they have exceeded a client's defined threshold for risky driving and provides the driver with immediate and tangible feedback on unsafe driving,” she said. Those same drivers are rated on several risky behaviors, such as hard acceleration, braking, cornering and speeding, as well as seat-belt use.

Another fleet opts to get information in real time. That client’s 1,400-unit utility infrastructure fleet uses telematics to notify managers when a driver violates the company’s predetermined threshold.

Clark said she believes most fleets today use some type of telematics and that safety is a top priority, especially for utility fleets, followed by reducing operating costs, assuring compliance and improving productivity.

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Gary L. Wollenhaupt

14-Point Checklist for Spec’ing Impact Attenuators

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Work zone intrusions are a fact of life, and utility fleets are turning to attenuators to protect employees.

One utility recently bought a truck-mounted attenuator vehicle from Royal Truck & Equipment after two of the utility’s employees were injured in an accident.

“Unfortunately, sometimes it takes an incident for people to realize they need protection for their work zones,” said Theresa Delgado, marketing manager for Royal Truck & Equipment (https://royaltruckandequipment.com), an attenuator dealer based in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania.

In a recent survey, 60% of highway contractors reported motor vehicle crashes in a work zone in 2020. As distracted driving incidents rise, even though overall traffic has been lower due to the pandemic, utilities are investing in attenuators to safeguard their employees.

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David Cullen

Power Ahead: The Coming of Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Trucks

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Even as electric utilities and other fleet operators are embracing battery-electric medium- and heavy-duty trucks to move to zero-emission power, another wave of alternative power is rolling in: the hydrogen fuel cell. Just as a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) delivers zero-emission power, so does a fuel-cell vehicle (FCV).

Thanks to several key advantages of FCV design, expect to see heavy-duty trucks powered by fuel cells arrive on the market in the U.S. within the next five years – and maybe as soon as 2022.

The power drawn from a BEV’s onboard batteries is recharged by plugging in the vehicle as well as by regenerative braking. In contrast, a fuel cell generates electricity via an internal electrochemical reaction. When hydrogen and oxygen are combined, electricity, heat and water are generated. Because of that advantage, fuel-cell power is being developed for a wide range of vehicles, from forklifts to trucks.

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Grace Suizo

Winterizing Your Crews

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There’s no need to wait until winter to start getting your fleet ready for the season, according to Ben Langley, director of training and development innovation for Driving Dynamics (www.drivingdynamics.com), a provider of fleet driver safety training and risk services.

In a recent interview with UFP, Langley encouraged fleets to immediately develop a winter driving plan with their teams that aligns with company safety policies and includes an in-depth inspection and service for each vehicle.

Steve Bufton, vice president of maintenance, telematics and safety for Donlen (www.donlen.com), a provider of financing and fleet management solutions, agreed, noting that it’s important to have in place a pre-trip vehicle inspection form, process and closed-loop procedure. The inspection should include checking tire pressure, fuel and washer fluid levels, and appropriate safety items.

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