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UFP Magazine

Craig Ries

Using Aerials and Digger Derricks in Slick Conditions

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As we enter the full grip of winter, setting up aerial devices and digger derricks in snowy and icy conditions brings additional concerns for equipment operators. Normal traction is greatly reduced, which could put a truck in an unstable position. Variable site locations – on gravel or grass, sloped or level – and the urgency to minimize electrical disruptions mean that utility crews often must make the most of imperfect conditions.

Upon arrival at the site, whenever possible, clear away snow and ice under outriggers and tires so that they are in contact with bare ground. Avoid setting outriggers on drains or manholes.

“All outriggers must be lowered to provide proper support, apply downward pressure on outriggers, and always use outrigger pads on a level surface,” advised Bruce Westergaard of Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association. He also suggested avoiding uneven seating, where the outrigger foot straddles mounds or spans dips, as well as using outrigger pads that are textured on the bottom.

Alternatively, traction aids under tires and outriggers – such as sand, gravel and mats – also are a good option.

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Grace Suizo

Technologies to Improve Aerial Safety

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Operating aerial equipment can pose risks if care is not taken to identify and mitigate hazards. UFP recently spoke with industry professionals to learn more about technologies currently available to enhance safety during aerial equipment use.

Reduce Operator Falls
It was customer feedback that contributed to Terex Utilities (www.terex.com/utilities) developing the Positive Attachment Lanyard (PAL) device, which serves as an added reminder to users to properly utilize fall protection. The warning system is designed as an operator aid to reduce the chance of an operator elevating the bucket without a safety harness lanyard attached.

“Most of the time when a worker fails to attach the lanyard, it’s an honest mistake,” said Joe Caywood, director of marketing for Terex Utilities. “The worker was concentrating on the job and just forgot. We hope that linemen will consider the PAL device as a friendly reminder in the platform. It’s there to promote their following of safe work practices.”

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Sean M. Lyden

What Fleet Managers Should Know About Impact Attenuators

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An impact attenuator is a safety device, either mounted on the rear of a truck or towed as a trailer, that absorbs the force of a vehicle collision at speeds up to 62.5 mph to protect roadside crews working nearby.

While attenuators are not a new concept – they’ve been in use in the highway construction industry for decades – what is new is that they’ve started to become more prevalent in the utility industry.

“Utility companies are a new market for us,” said Brent Kulp, executive vice president at TrafFix Devices Inc. (www.traffixdevices.com), which builds both truck-mounted and trailer impact attenuators. “Typically, we sell to the highway departments. But beginning about five years ago, utility companies started coming to us, saying, ‘Hey, our guys are out on the highway, out on the city streets, fixing a gas line or doing a utility pole repair. We want to protect our crew working in front of that vehicle from distracted drivers.’”

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Gary L. Wollenhaupt

Wireless Charging Unleashes Electric Vehicle Fleets

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If your utility operates electric vehicles – or is planning to do so – the emergence of wireless charging technology could impact vehicle selection and charging infrastructure decisions.

Currently, wireless charging is available for smartphones and other small electronics. But wireless EV charging could be a key to widespread transportation electrification.

In the utility industry, EV adoption is just beginning to take off. This September, Duke Energy announced an EV initiative that will convert 100% of its light-duty vehicles to electric and 50% of its combined fleet of medium-duty, heavy-duty and off-road vehicles to EVs, plug-in hybrids or other zero-carbon alternatives by 2030. The utility company already has about 600 EVs in its 10,000-vehicle fleet.

Duke will deploy new Level 2 plug-in charging stations at operations centers, field offices and power generation facilities – essentially, "wherever we are deploying the bulk of the EV fleet at any given time," according to Jennifer Sharpe, a spokeswoman for Duke Energy. "As we see growth in the fleet, we'll deploy additional fast-charging facilities for longer-distance travel of any fully electric vehicles."

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Sandy Smith

Do Tire Chains Make Sense for Your Utility Fleet Vehicles?

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It wasn’t so long ago that, when the calendar began its march toward winter, fleets dug out tire chains and issued them to each vehicle. When inclement weather eventually arrived, it was up to the operator to install the chains.

In recent years, however, things have changed, both in terms of options for traction devices and improvements in tires themselves. That has Dale Collins, fleet services supervisor for Virginia-based Fairfax Water, rethinking his approach to the utility’s on-road fleet of 320 assets.

“Let’s say we experience a blizzard,” Collins said during a recent interview with UFP. “[Tire chains] work well for what they’re doing. But around here, like a lot of the mid-Atlantic, heavy snowfall lasts around 24 to 36 hours. You want to use your chains. But then, you’re using a chain on the semi-clear road, which causes damage to the roadway, wears out the chain itself and is an uncomfortable ride.”

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Sean M. Lyden

Freightliner: How Electric Trucks Will Change Your Garage Operations

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Numerous signs point toward an all-electric future in transportation.

But as more plug-in electric trucks become commercially available for fleets, how will the new technology impact your garage operations? What will change with technician training, equipment and other aspects of your shop?

Daimler Trucks North America plans to start production of its plug-in electric Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 models in 2022. So, UFP spoke with Gregory Bowen, the electric mobility developer and trainer at DTNA, and Jason Ascher, DTNA’s e-mobility engineer, to get their perspective on what you can expect as you prepare your shop to work on EVs in the coming years.

Here’s an edited excerpt of our conversation.

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Sean M. Lyden

Why California’s Ban on Gas and Diesel Vehicles Matters

In September, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that his state will ban the sale of new light-duty gasoline and diesel vehicles, effective in 2035. And by 2045, new medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in California must also be zero-emissions.

So, what does this news mean for utility fleets?

It means that the transportation industry is trending toward an all-electric future, with vehicles powered by battery only, hydrogen or a hybrid of both “fuels,” depending on a vehicle’s range requirements and duty cycle.

But how does California’s ban impact vehicle sales – and your fleet – outside the state?

Think about it. If California were a sovereign nation, it would rank as the world’s fifth-largest economy. And the state accounts for a massive share of U.S. auto sales. This means that when California talks, the automakers listen.

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Kate Wade

Peterbilt Model 220EV

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Peterbilt is pleased to announce that the Model 220EV is now available for customer orders. It can be configured through the SmartSpec sales tool and ordered at one of Peterbilt’s best-in-class dealer locations, with customer deliveries expected to start by the end of 2020.

The Model 220EV is Peterbilt’s first electric configuration for medium-duty applications and provides customers a zero-emission Class 6 or 7 vehicle for clean, efficient operation and lower overall maintenance. With a range of up to 200 miles on a full charge, the Model 220EV is powered by an electric motor and features two battery packs and an onboard charger. When using the vehicle’s DC fast-charging system, the state-of-the-art, high-energy-density battery packs can recharge in one to two hours, making the Model 220EV ideal for local pickup and delivery as well as short regional haul operations.

Designed with optimal weight distribution and performance, the Model 220EV also provides greater driver comfort and productivity through a quiet ride, and the cab-over-engine configuration delivers superior maneuverability, enhanced visibility, a spacious interior and ease of serviceability for maximizing uptime. www.peterbilt.com

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Kate Wade

Morooka Rubber Track Carrier

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The first Morooka MST-3000VDR rubber track carrier, with enhanced hydraulics and a larger bed, recently rolled off the line at the manufacturing facility in Ashland, Virginia. Morooka’s VDR models all feature an upper structure that can rotate 360 degrees in either direction independently from the undercarriage and tracks. This helps users reduce surface damage that occurs when turning the machine, as well as aiding users who have limited operating space.

Currently available by special order only, the new MST-3000VDR is powered by a 300-horsepower Caterpillar C7.1 engine and can handle a maximum load of 36,000 pounds. It has a top speed of 8 mph yet only exerts a ground pressure of 3.6 to 8.0 psi. www.morookacarriers.com

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Kate Wade

Hino Paves Path to Zero Emissions

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Hino Trucks recently announced Project Z, the company’s development path to zero-emissions vehicles (ZEV), ranging from Class 4 to Class 8.

The live virtual event showcased the most comprehensive lineup of zero-emissions trucks, partnering with technology leaders in advanced electrification drive systems.

The ZEV products ranged from a Class 5 on a SEA Electric SEA-Drive 120a on a Hino M5 chassis, up to a Hino XL Series Class 8 tractor powered by Toyota’s Fuel Cell system. Additionally, Hino featured a battery electric Class 7 tractor with Hexagon Purus’ full electric drive system, and a Hino XL Series Class 8 box truck powered by Xos Trucks’ X-Pack battery and electric drive system. For the battery electric vehicles, Hino will look at both central drive motors and e-axles.

Project Z advances Hino’s environmental leadership position, first established in 1991 with the global sale of its hybrid buses, and will consist of demonstration vehicles in the first half of 2021, customer demonstrations in 2022 and production prior to 2024.

The project does not end here. Over the coming months, Hino Trucks will unveil more granular details about the cutting-edge technologies and vehicles to come out of Project Z. www.hino.com/projectz

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Kate Wade

Terex Utilities Opens New Manufacturing Facility

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Terex Utilities announced that its new manufacturing headquarters is now fully functional, and the first production units have rolled off the line. The 450,000-square-foot facility brings production operations under one roof on a 55-acre site in Watertown, South Dakota.

The new facility houses assembly, fiberglass, paint and installation. Among the first machines to roll off the line were a C6060 digger derrick for Otter Tail Power Co. in Minnesota, an HR46 aerial device for Xcel Energy in Minnesota, an LT40 aerial device for NiSource in Indiana and a General 65 digger derrick for Brazos Electric Cooperative in Texas.

Terex Utilities hopes to celebrate the opening of its modern manufacturing facility with customers once the coronavirus is controlled. Until then, this video shows a time lapse of the new facility construction. www.terex.com/utilities

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Jim Vaughn, CUSP

A Practical Review of the ANSI A92.2 Standard

This is a review of ANSI/SAIA A92.2-2015, “American National Standard for Vehicle-Mounted Elevating and Rotating Aerial Devices.” As a consultant, investigator and auditor, I have been surprised time and again that people who should know this standard do not know it that well. Most fleet managers are familiar with the rules, which is important because the A92.2 standard obligates owners of aerial lifts to be held liable for equipment they sell in certain scenarios. On the employee side, a working knowledge of A92.2 can prevent incidents and loss of life. In fact, a recent live-line barehand training class was what inspired this topic. We found that a bucket truck had the leasing company’s logo sticker adhered down both sides of the insulated boom section. That bucket truck was designed and rated for barehand use at 500 kV, yet a vinyl-plastic printed logo installed by the leasing company, spanning two-thirds of the insulated length, could have had some serious implications for the safety of that boom.

In this article, we are going to review some of the information covered in the A92.2 standard. Readers should recognize that ANSI/SAIA consensus standards are protected by copyright, so we will not directly reproduce the text of the standard itself. The A92.2 standard can be purchased directly from the ANSI website (https://webstore.ansi.org).

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Sean M. Lyden

3 Factors to Consider When Retrofitting LED Lights on Work Trucks

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It makes sense that most truck OEMs, body manufacturers and upfitters have made the switch from conventional incandescent bulbs to light-emitting diode (LED) lighting for their latest models.

After all, LEDs last exponentially longer, shine brighter, burn cooler and draw less power. And although LEDs are more expensive upfront, the cost drops significantly over the bulb’s life.

But what about the older vehicles in your fleet that still use incandescent bulbs? Would it pay to retrofit those lights with LEDs? How do you decide? And what factors should you consider before you make the switch?

UFP recently caught up with Ken Gillies, senior work truck consultant at Element Fleet Management (www.elementfleet.com), who offered these three considerations.

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Sean M. Lyden

The Impact of COVID-19 on Order-to-Delivery Time Frames – and How to Respond Effectively

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In early March, the coronavirus caused automakers to shut down production completely for two months. But even after reopening in late June, they’ve still had to deal with temporary plant closures as positive cases emerge.

As you can imagine, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on vehicle and equipment production schedules and supply chains, causing significant delays that have put many utility fleets in a bind.

So, what exactly is the current state of order-to-delivery (OTD) time frames? What can you expect to see over the next several months? And how can you minimize any disruption to your fleet operations?

UFP spoke with Cindy Gomez, vice president of vehicle acquisitions services at Donlen (www.donlen.com), a fleet management company, to get her outlook on OTD time frames and advice on how you can handle the issue.

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Gary L. Wollenhaupt

Top Trends in Commercial Truck Tire Technologies

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A number of tire manufacturers are developing high-tech solutions for the truck and bus radial market segment, which includes tires for the Class 4, 5 and 6 trucks that are the backbone of many utility fleets. Tires and related items typically are among the top three costs of running a fleet, so even incremental improvements can slash expenses.

Smart Tires
Tire makers are developing intelligent tires that communicate information about performance in real time, including wear, temperature, pressure and speed. Each tire has a sensor that sends information to the cloud, where fleet managers can access it for individual vehicles or the overall fleet.

Fleet managers also can benefit from interactivity with other smart environments – like fleet telematics – to improve sustainability and efficiency. So far, Goodyear (www.goodyear.com) has collected more than 3 million miles of data in its intelligent tire testing.

"As vehicles become smarter and more autonomous, intelligent tires – as the only part of the vehicle that actually touches the ground – will become even more critical," said Johnny McIntosh, director of integrated solutions and tire management for Goodyear.

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Sandy Smith

New Developments in All-Terrain Vehicles for Utility Fleets

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Utility work occurs rain or shine, day or night, and whether we’re in the midst of a pandemic or not. Often, that work takes place on rugged terrain and in other challenging environments. All-terrain vehicles provide solutions to safely move utility crews, tools and equipment in and out of these environments, and ATV manufacturers continue to introduce new and improved products to meet the needs of utility fleets. Here’s a roundup of six products that have been introduced so far in 2020.

Hydratrek
What’s New: Smaller CM66 model
Website: https://hydratrek.com

Hydratrek has been experimenting with going smaller for the last five years, according to Craig B. Simonton, vice president of sales and marketing for the amphibious ATV manufacturer. “We’ve built at least three prototype versions to find the right combination of power, torque, comfort, stability and reliability in this model. This has resulted in the new CM66 model that features a gasoline engine, seating for four persons and a smaller chassis.”

The CM66 is made in the USA and features many of the same characteristics that customers expect from Hydratrek, Simonton said, including aluminum construction, a hydrostatic drive, a rubber track option and an available water propulsion system.

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Grace Suizo

Utility Fleet Best Practices for Idle Reduction

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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, some utility fleets have discovered that their idling has increased. So – perhaps now more than ever – it’s imperative for fleets to identify instances where idling can be controlled and act on them. UFP recently spoke with three fleet industry professionals who shared tips on how to do just that.

Get Staff on the Same Page
According to Dale Collins, fleet services supervisor for Virginia-based Fairfax Water, the greatest idle mitigation is achieved through operators intentionally turning off their engines when possible.

“The best practice is to have a well-trained workforce that understands state and local statutes regarding idling, company expectations, and the difference between necessary and unnecessary idling,” he explained.

That may require some coaching. Several years ago, Collins asked the local Clean Cities coalition to provide idle reduction training for all his field staff. As a result, the fleet experienced almost 10% less fuel consumption the following quarter.

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Sean M. Lyden

Smart Hiring Tips for Fleet Professionals

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You’re looking to hire a mechanic, shop supervisor or data analyst. You’ve sorted through the applications and resumes, creating a shortlist of candidates who look great on paper.

Now, it’s time for the interviews to assess who would be the best choice for the job.

But when candidates operate as their own public relations agent, selective about what they share – and don’t share – to put themselves in the best light, how do you get to the truth about whether they really have “the goods” for the job?

Enter Robin Dreeke, the former head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program.

Dreeke spent over three decades developing high-trust relationships with informants, including many unsavory characters, to gather intelligence to help the FBI and other agencies prevent terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. So, he knows a thing or two about how to read people to quickly determine whether you can trust them – and work with them.

And he writes extensively about his system, which he calls “The Six Signs of Behavior Prediction,” in his latest bestselling book, “Sizing People Up: A Veteran FBI Agent’s User Manual for Behavior Prediction.” 

UFP recently spoke with Dreeke to get his take on how you can apply his behavior prediction model to make better-informed hiring decisions that can take your fleet’s performance – and your career – to the next level.

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Sean M. Lyden

Shop Talk: Reimagining the PM as Predictive Maintenance

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A thorough and consistent preventive maintenance (PM) program is a core best practice of any high-performing fleet.

But the challenge is that too many fleets still base their PM schedules on OEM recommendations and not on field-specific data that takes into account higher-idle scenarios, hilly terrain, extreme climate conditions and operator behaviors – all of which accelerate wear and tear on the vehicle.

As a result, you could achieve near 100% PM compliance per OEM schedules and still get blindsided by higher than acceptable failure rates that lead to costly downtime and productivity loss.

So, how can you improve maintenance performance?

George Survant, principal at Fleet Mace Consulting, recommended that fleets adopt a predictive maintenance model, which requires a different way of thinking and operating than traditional PM.

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Sean M. Lyden

Who Can You Trust?

Whatever task you’re performing as a fleet professional – whether it’s purchasing equipment, hiring new technicians or presenting your case for a budget increase – you have to work with a wide range of different types of people to accomplish your objectives.

But how can you tell who you can trust? Try using a system called “The Six Signs of Behavior Prediction,” which you can learn more about in the book “Sizing People Up” by Robin Dreeke, the former head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program. Here’s an overview of what to look for with each of the six signs.

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