Tag: Fleet Maintenance

Tire Expenses: Manage to Minimize

Effective management of tire costs is more important now than ever and will continue to grow in importance, but if you are not able to accurately measure what your fleet spends on tires, there is no way you will be able to manage those expenses. Unfortunately, many fleets have not initiated a comprehensive tire management program, nor do they accurately know the expense they incur for tires.

“At the end of the day, it is cost per 1/32nd of tread wear per mile, but most people do not have that information,” said Darry Stuart, president and CEO of DWS Fleet Management Services (www.darrystuart.com). “The best way to accurately account for tires is to use a good computerized system and charge tires by 32nds as they go on and credit tires the 32nds when they come off. Also, most fleets include the cost of tires in the cost of a new truck, therefore failing to include those tires when they are calculating their tire cost per mile.”

Programs that do this kind of accounting are available and have been designed to interact seamlessly with most computerized maintenance management systems. Services are also available through tire vendors who will input fleet tire data, then store and analyze it. Goodyear (www.goodyear.com), for example, recently launched a next-generation version of its TVTrack program that is designed to do exactly what needs to be done if fleet tire costs are to be managed. It is available through the company’s dealer network and will accept and analyze cradle-to-grave financial information about any brand of tire.

Retread tires deserve to be included in all commercial fleet tire programs. Many fleets operating Class 3 through 6 vehicles already use retreads, and due to economic pressures over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in the use of these products among fleets not using them. “There has definitely been an increased interest in using retreads,” said Guy Walenga, director of engineering for commercial products at Bridgestone Firestone (www.bridgestone-firestone.com). “You could say people have found religion. They have been looking for any place where they can save some money. Many fleets that never considered retreading before have taken another look at the use of retreads because it is such a good way to influence the overall cost per mile.”

Fleet managers need to realize there is no definite age limit on the life of a tire carcass. Steel body plies and steel-belted commercial tires are designed to be retreaded. Every casing that goes into a reputable retread shop will be inspected visually and with a nondestructive testing system that will find any nail holes invisible to the naked eye. They are also put through X-ray tests to find ply separations.

“Because each tire casing goes through this extended inspection process, there is no time frame that would limit the casing for retreading,” Walenga said. “A retreader is liable for the quality and performance of his product. As a result, he’s not going to put a dime of unnecessary expense into a tire that isn’t going to retread and perform for his customer. He does all of his testing before he buffs the tire.”

The high cost of tires has caused an increased interest in recapping in heavy-duty fleets that had not taken advantage of this proven technology. Fleets that regularly use recapped tires are looking to get another cap or two on their casings. Many fleet managers recapped a casing only until it was about 5 years old, and then sold it instead of capping it again.

That strategy is changing. “Some years ago, most fleet managers would take a casing out of service after about five years,” Stuart said. “That increased to six years and now, in many cases, is at seven years and in some cases eight years. The strategy has been working well, but the applications those older casings go into need to be managed. If the tire is going to be used in a low-mileage trailer application, 40,000 or 50,000 miles a year, it will very likely offer you no problems. Capping technology has also improved, helping to make this strategy possible.”

Ryder System (www.ryder.com) has a policy of not going down to the legal limit for its over-the-road units. “The DOT legal is 2/32, but we target 4/32, which gives us a little bit of room to plan the replacement,” said Scott Perry, Ryder’s vice president of supply management. “We recognize the importance of the casing and not wearing the tread package too thin. Our customers are on full-service leases so they will bring their trucks into our service facilities on a regular basis, and our goal is to perform as much of the required maintenance on our leased vehicles at our facilities as possible. As a result, we have multiple touch points throughout the year. Because of that, we can predict when the tires will need to be removed from the vehicle.” Consequently, it’s a scheduled procedure and not a road call.

Air Pressure
Inflation pressure is always the most important factor of tire maintenance relative to tire costs. Correct inflation will help to maximize a casing’s retreadability while minimizing wear and the tire’s negative contribution to fuel economy rolling resistance. “If you don’t have the right air pressure, you’re giving up tread mileage, giving up casing durability and you’re giving up fuel economy,” Walenga said. “A casing can be destroyed if it is run at the wrong air pressure.”

Tires will always be an expensive commodity for fleets, so it makes sense to do everything you can to control costs. Maximize the life of every casing, and when a tire comes out of service, make sure you know why. Use retreads. Keep tires aired to the correct pressure. If you’re not doing this, you’re wasting money.

About the Author: Tom Gelinas is a U.S. Army veteran who spent nearly a decade as a physicist before joining Irving-Cloud Publishing Co. While at Irving-Cloud, he worked in various editorial capacities for several trade publications including Fleet Equipment, Heavy Duty Equipment Maintenance and Transport Technology Today. Gelinas is a founding member of Truck Writers of North America, a professional association, and a contributing writer for Utility Fleet Professional.


Up and Running

Who gets utility trucks that have been immobilized by tire problems up and running again so utility response crews can resume their important work of restoring gas, electricity and other services following severe weather incidents?

In many cases, the unsung heroes in this process are tire dealers whose service technicians rush to downed utility trucks to repair – and in some instances, replace – tires that have been damaged by storm-generated debris and other items strewn across roads and highways.

The key piece is connecting these tire dealers to utility service trucks whose drivers want to get back on the road. This is where Goodyear’s new Storm Priority program enters the picture.

A Top Priority
The Goodyear Storm Priority program was created to make utility truck tire service a top priority because we know that when severe weather strikes, there is no time to waste. Every minute counts, not just for affected citizens who have lost access to critical utilities, but also for the utility companies that send trucks to storm-ravaged areas.

Goodyear Storm Priority takes the hassle out of tire dealer technician deployment. To access the service during and after power outages and other emergency situations – or while their trucks are on the way to and from power restoration efforts – utility fleets simply call a dedicated line: 1-855-STORMHQ. Also, as we know, utility trucks can experience tire-related issues while traveling outside of their home markets; Goodyear Storm Priority can assist trucks in this situation, too.

Calls that come in through the 1-855-STORMHQ number are considered high-priority and are immediately routed to the 24/7 Goodyear Solution Center, where trained tire professionals capture vital information, including the location of the caller’s downed truck. The agents who staff the Goodyear Solution Center are more than voices on the other end of the phone – they receive intensive tire training, are familiar with vehicles and tire applications, and understand the seriousness of the situation.

After collecting the necessary information, the Solution Center professionals will locate and dispatch a service technician from the nearest participating Goodyear commercial truck tire dealer to the incapacitated utility truck’s exact location. The technician will assess the truck’s tire condition and render the tire service in order to remedy the issue.

The size and scope of Goodyear’s service network – more than 2,200 locations across North America – mean that a servicing dealer is never too far away, another advantage for fleets that travel great distances to assist with power restoration. Deploying trucks from your base of operation in Pennsylvania to a hurricane-impacted section of Florida? You’ll have coverage.

Utility fleets of all sizes and configurations can access Goodyear Storm Priority at no cost by dialing 1-855-STORMHQ.

Package Deal
At Goodyear, there’s more to service than simply repairing a tire and then sending a truck on its way. We’ve developed a comprehensive suite of products, services and profitability tools to help fleets – including those in the utility industry – lower their total cost of operations. We refer to this as Goodyear’s Total Package Solution, and our Goodyear-FleetHQ program is a big part of that.

Since its inception, Goodyear-FleetHQ, of which the 24/7 Goodyear Solution Center is an important component, has put more than 750,000 trucks of all types and classifications back on the road.

Emergency road service is just one piece of this holistic approach. In the fleet management business, knowledge is power. The better the data at its fingertips, the more efficiently a fleet can manage its assets, including the tires on its trucks. To give fleets access to as much information about their tires as possible, Goodyear-FleetHQ offers Tire Trac, a dynamic online tool that monitors the performance of a fleet’s tires, as well as the fleet’s service history – collecting, documenting and presenting key data in an easy-to-access format.

Through Tire Trac, utility fleets can zero in on an individual tire, or review the performance of their tires throughout their entire operation. This gives fleets the ability to compare cost-per-mile in different regions, and even identify issues that need to be corrected. Tire Trac also enables fleets to see details related to individual roadside service calls, including cost.

In addition, it gives fleets visibility into roll-time, the amount of time between the moment a truck driver calls Goodyear-FleetHQ and the moment his or her truck returns to service. Roll-time is the No. 1 critical area identified by fleets, and Goodyear-FleetHQ offers the best roll-time in the trucking industry: on average, just two hours and 11 minutes.

Tire Trac lets fleets see the details of their tire and service purchases as well. They can benchmark their spending against the last couple of months, or even years, and run reports by tire type, size and location.

It’s crucial for utility fleets to leverage as much information as possible so they can be even better prepared to respond to severe weather incidents and other emergency situations. In light of the unpredictable weather that many parts of North America have experienced, optimal preparedness makes good sense, and will help utility crews carry out their vital work, which impacts so many people’s lives.

About the Author: Jose Martinez is the business and digital solutions manager for Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems.


Valuable Insight

For the Facilities & Transportation Fleet team at Indianapolis Power & Light Co., the key to productivity and efficiency is not just the programs and technologies that have been put in place. Equally important and absolutely essential, they note, is to ingrain a process of organizational efficiency throughout the culture of the operation.

Keith Dunkel, team leader and fleet manager, Kim Garner, fleet administration, and Les Gose, fleet maintenance at IPL, all point to the successful implementation of the 5S methodology within the fleet maintenance operation. This workplace organization methodology, based on five Japanese words all beginning with the letter “S” when translated into English (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain), has benefited the fleet’s maintenance shops through improved organization of work spaces.

“A primary focus was on the efficient and effective storage of work tools and supplies, maintaining the work area and these items, and sustaining the new order,” Dunkel said. “The decision-making process usually comes from a dialogue about standardization, which builds understanding among employees of how their work should be done.”

At IPL, the 5S methodology has brought a new cultural mindset to shop floor efficiency and safety within the fleet maintenance operation. “It’s a process that builds collaboration among employees and management specific to work design and flow,” Dunkel stated. “In addition to improving shop safety by reducing hazards, it has also provided structure within the shop environment to identify and reduce waste.”

Today, IPL crew leaders, technicians and management personnel use the 5S methodology to effectively run shop operations. A weekly safety walk, for example, is used to identify housekeeping issues, such as defective lighting or other concerns, based on a comprehensive checklist of items specific to the operation and environment.

Organized Approach
An organized approach is also in place in other areas of the IPL fleet and maintenance operation. “Three years ago,” explained Gose, “we brought in NAPA to manage our parts system. NAPA now operates our parts room as a private store, staffed 16 hours per day. The facility exclusively serves the IPL fleet, handles paperwork for our business with a local tire vendor, and as an added convenience, IPL employees can make purchases for personal use.

“With this arrangement,” Gose continued, “we are ensured competitive pricing within a consigned parts format. This has given us access to a substantial inventory without tying up financial resources for owned inventory.”

Gose also explained that IPL and NAPA are working closely together to ensure that the parts supplier is prepared to provide the wide variety of standard and specialized items needed for utility vehicles. “Our initiative is to ensure that NAPA understands our needs,” he said. “We do not want to wait for parts that we should have in stock and we expect NAPA to adjust the consignment inventory as our specs change.

“We have established and track metrics specifically to the NAPA operation,” Gose continued. “Those target wait times, fill rates and inventory location accuracy. We believe these to be core competencies for parts management and are integral to the productivity of our technicians.”

The IPL fleet is serviced in two locations, Dunkel noted. “At our main hub in Indianapolis we house about 80 percent of the fleet of 422 vehicles,” he related. “At a satellite facility we handle the other 20 percent. About 80 percent of the fleet is used in operations across our 528-square-mile service territory and the rest is allocated to our three generating plants.”

Meeting Needs
The composition of IPL’s fleet is designed to meet the needs of field operations that maintain 835 circuit miles of transmission lines and approximately 12,668 circuit miles of distribution lines, as well as 144 substations. A total of 88 heavy-duty units account for 20 percent of the fleet, another 92 are medium-duty models and the balance consists of 242 light-duty vehicles.

Primary makes represented in the IPL fleet include International heavy-duty, Freightliner and Ford medium-duty, and Chevrolet and Ford light-duty models. IPL’s alternative fuel vehicles are primarily within the light-duty segment of the fleet and use E85 from a central fueling station.

Vehicle types at IPL are varied for line, substation maintenance and construction needs, Dunkel pointed out. Aerial units supplied mainly by Altec include 45-foot models for trouble trucks, 55-foot models for line truck material handlers, 85-foot high reach noninsulated and 125-foot insulated units, and there are 42-foot material handlers and articulating squirt booms.

Also in operation at IPL are digger derricks, light-duty cranes, cable pullers and rodders. Truck types include step and hi-cube vans, 3/4-ton vans, and 1/4-, 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-ton pickups. The fleet also has sedans, minivans and SUVs, and the maintenance staff services and repairs support equipment such as easement rigs, backyard buckets, tensioners, wire reel trailers, forklifts, backhoes and small excavators.

“We have established replacement cycles based on vehicle size and use,” Garner said. “Light-duty models are in service for five years or 60,000 miles, trouble trucks are replaced after seven years and line trucks see 10 years of service in our fleet.

“For remarketing our retired heavy-duty trucks, and some nonroad equipment, we have been using the services of J.J. Kane Auctioneers,” Garner related. “We were working with a local auction company, but Altec brought J.J. Kane to our attention because of their specialization in selling construction utility equipment.

“They know the markets where we can get the best resale value for our trucks,” Garner added. “Overall, it’s been a very smooth and effective process. We have maximized our recovery dollars using the J.J. Kane process.”

Software is also in place to help specify and manage the IPL fleet, Gose noted. For example, there’s Diamond Logic Builder at International Trucks’ Body Builder Resource Center, as well as the CFAW fleet maintenance management solution and E.J. Ward automated fuel management software and reporting tools.

In the shop, Gose reported, technicians are trained on a regular basis and have multiple diagnostic tools at their disposal. Included are the Rotunda (IDS) service tool for Ford vehicles, Mentor, Pegasus, INSITE (Cummins) and Tech II diagnostic equipment, and the ServiceMaxx diagnostic and programming tool for Navistar MaxxForce engines.

Accelerated Implementation
“In 2010, we started using the Telogis Fleet management solution for vehicle telematics,” Dunkel said. “Initially, we phased in 50 trucks, but once we experienced the wealth of the data available, we accelerated our implementation plan.

“By the end of the first year we had over 300 vehicles on the system,” Dunkel continued. “The telematics solution reports GPS location data, engine performance, idle, PTO and battery time, and odometer readings, along with hard braking and acceleration information.

“Now that we have over two full years of baseline data from vehicle electronics systems over the Telogis solution, we’re taking it to the next level,” Dunkel added. “We have completed the next step [Enterprise Level] using the system’s InSight Alerts function to develop driver scorecards and a [key performance indicators] Dashboard.

“With these capabilities,” Dunkel stated, “our field operation teams use the system to enhance productivity by determining arrival and departure times at job sites. In the fleet department, we will be able to model scenarios that will show us the impact on costs of reducing idle time and get alerts to mechanical conditions previewing potential costly breakdowns and repairs.”

IPL’s management team, Dunkel added, has given strong support for this investment in vehicle telematics. “This technology has provided new and valuable insights into how our trucks are used,” he said, “giving us opportunities to lower operating costs, improve driving behaviors and better manage our assets.”

About IPL: Indianapolis Power & Light Co. provides retail electric service to more than 470,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Indianapolis, as well as portions of other central Indiana communities surrounding Marion County. During its long history, IPL has supplied its customers with some of the lowest-cost, most reliable power in the country. Its parent company, AES Corp., provides affordable, sustainable energy to 25 countries through a diverse portfolio of distribution and generation businesses.

About the Author: Seth Skydel has more than 27 years of truck- and automotive-related publication experience. In his career, he has held editorial roles at numerous national business-to-business publications focusing on fleet and transportation management, vehicle and information technology, and industry trends and issues.

Changing Brakes

A primary concern of every fleet professional is the safe operation and stopping ability of the vehicles in his fleet. A truck’s ability to stop, of course, depends on the condition and quality of its braking system, particularly its brakes’ friction material. The friction material used in truck brakes has changed a great deal over the last few decades and continues to change. As an integral part of the braking system, friction material must be chosen to provide the stopping power necessary in a truck’s specific application. This is especially true for commercial vehicles since any given truck model may be put into a wide range of applications. Light-duty vehicles, however, may well benefit from the use of other-than-normal friction material. Consider, for example, police cruisers that may be used in high-speed pursuits with heavy braking demands.

Replacing Asbestos
Years ago, asbestos friction material was commonly used in vehicle braking systems – commercial trucks in particular – because of its ability to withstand the high operating temperatures that could be generated in stopping a heavy vehicle. Indeed, temperatures more than 2,000 F created a substantial fire hazard. The health hazards of asbestos, however, have all but eliminated its use in friction materials intended for vehicle applications. Although domestic manufacturers claim that asbestos materials are no longer used in friction products, foreign manufacturers of aftermarket brake parts have no requirement to stop distributing asbestos friction material. OSHA regulates the amount of asbestos dust that is present in vehicle repair facilities, which is where potential problems are found.

Ceramic or non-asbestos organic friction materials were developed to replace asbestos-based products in specific applications. These materials typically exhibit low friction and/or unacceptable wear rates at high temperatures and are very useful in light-duty applications, but are not suitable in many commercial and most heavy-duty operations.

Semi-metallic material was developed, along with ceramic material, to replace asbestos. In comparing the two, Kevin Judge, sales manager of national accounts at Fras-le (http://nabrakes.fras-le.com), a major manufacturer of semi-metallic and ceramic friction material, said, “Semi-metallic material is a bit more aggressive, but can be more noisy than ceramic material. The performance, however, of semi-metallic material makes it a desirable product for use in trucks as well as automobiles used in applications that need high-performance braking performance. It has become the standard for use by the trucking industry.”

More Changes Coming
As a result of environmental concerns, two states have passed legislation that nearly eliminates the use of copper, in addition to several other materials, in friction material. Three years ago, both California and Washington passed laws mandating that friction material used in brakes contain no more than 0.5 percent of copper by weight. While various portions of the laws take effect at different times, they have spurred the industry to develop compliant materials that will deliver satisfactory stopping performance. “As an industry, we are being challenged in going copper-free after 2019,” Judge said.

Not surprisingly, these laws put additional financial burdens on manufacturers and distributors. They may well be enough to cause some suppliers to leave the business, resulting in fewer product choices for fleets.

Brake Repairs
While fleet managers seek a long service life from brakes, they also know that brake pads and blocks will wear out and need to be replaced. Be sure to do your homework before you go to market. “Fleet managers should be prepared to accurately describe their fleet’s applications when they go to market to purchase replacement brake pads or brake linings,” Judge said. “Terrain is important. The hills of Pittsburgh require different material than the flatlands in Des Moines. They should be aware of the load that they’re carrying. Is it a constant load? Is going to be variable? Is it going to be loaded off and on? Will the application be stop-and-go, or will it be over-the-road? This is the kind of information that brake service technicians need to know before they can make good recommendations regarding friction material.”

If you plan on making a change in friction material of replacement pads or liners, test the material before making a purchase. It’s not unreasonable for a fleet manager to request sample material for his own tests. Judge said that he often gets asked for samples. Tim Bauer, director for undercarriage products at Meritor Aftermarket (www.meritor.com), concurs. “Always test the friction material you’re considering purchasing,” he said. “Look at long-term replacement [cost versus price]. Be wary of container loads of low-price friction. Do they meet safety standards like FMVSS 121? What kind of warranty is offered? Who will back you up in the case of a failure or other problems?”

Bauer also urges that you never replace or service a component on one wheel end only; always do both wheel ends. This is especially true for work on front axles. In addition, if hardware comes packaged with replacement brake pads or linings, use it. “Don’t forget your hardware works just as hard as the linings,” Judge said.

Anytime a technician pulls a wheel, have him measure the thickness of the pad or lining as well as the run-out of the rotor or drum. Have him inspect the hoses to make sure they’re not worn or frayed, and ask him to check all the hardware to ensure it’s in good shape.

Because friction material is just one piece of a very important system comprised of parts designed to work together, when it comes time to replace it due to wear, it should be replaced with material that is as close to original as is possible or with material that you have tested to ensure satisfactory operation in your application.

About the Author: Tom Gelinas is a U.S. Army veteran who spent nearly a decade as a physicist before joining Irving-Cloud Publishing Co. While at Irving-Cloud, he worked in various editorial capacities for several trade publications including Fleet Equipment, Heavy Duty Equipment Maintenance and Transport Technology Today. Gelinas is a founding member of Truck Writers of North America, a professional association, and a contributing writer for Utility Fleet Professional.

Modernizing Your Shop: Solution Implementation

In the last issue of Utility Fleet Professional, we looked at what factors affect productivity in your current shop, how to calculate space and technician needs, and the options available to you once you determine you want to upgrade your existing shop or build a new facility. Now it’s time to explore the design and implementation process. This article will cover everything you need to know, from the different project phases to site selection considerations to the solicitation of bids and beyond.

Project Inception
Considerations at the inception of the project for either an expansion or build alternative should encompass the following:
• The goal is to reduce costs, increase safety and improve productivity.
• The cost to rehabilitate the present facility is only $125 per square foot.
• The equipment cost is 30-35 percent of the facility cost.
• The ratio of vehicles per square foot of facility.
• Circulation with inside versus outside storage.
• A new facility costs roughly $200 per square foot, plus an equipment cost at 33 percent of the square footage estimate, which is approximately $65 per square foot or an estimated $265 per square foot total.
• Twelve feet of mortar equals 18 feet of steel equals 30 feet of outside height or 26-28 feet of inside height.
• Allow for electrical, water, steel, mortar and a 10-foot concrete apron around the facility.
• Follow Wicks Law regarding the on-site supervision of the general contractor. Wicks Law states that federal funding for local projects requires a general contractor to oversee all costs as the project progresses to prohibit unnecessary change orders that needlessly increase costs.

Project Sequence
Most renovation projects typically follow this type of sequence:
• Pre-design, which includes gathering input from the fleet manager, architect and designer.
• Schematic design (six months).
• Design development (12 months).
• Contract documents development (six months).
• Request for bids, receipt of quotes and award of contract (six months).
• Design build, which takes approximately 24 months and is a combination of the preceding three line items.
• Wicks Law for construction management of federally funded projects requires an extra level of project management to supervise the general contractor. This is done to ensure that government policies and procedures are followed.
• Site progress, which includes developing a schedule and retainage.
• Involve prime contractors and subcontractors, and hold coordination meetings.
• Wrap-up, warranty, facility use program and move-in.
• Testing followed by final payment.
• On-site, turnkey and warranty management.
• Liquidated damages for latent defects.

Shop Design Sequence
The pre-design stage is a line sketch of the desired layout including items such as general sizing, stockroom, shop administration offices, lighting, plumbing, electrical, water, air, supplies, work areas, lockers, support areas, washrooms, and welding and cleaning areas. The occupant and construction management firm architect will rough out footprint processes, topography and compatibilities. This process can take up to six months with timing, what-ifs, changes, and the learning curve of the customer and architect. The most knowledgeable party is the customer who fits into the facility; the architect suggests, but the customer is both accountable and responsible.

The following must be considered in the pre-design stage:
• Pre-design of the site including site selection, site short list and cost considerations.
• Input from fleet managers, administrative personnel, shop personnel and drivers.
• Clerical needs including equipment and work flow.
• Work methods and changes.
• Design layout: architect versus client versus consultant.
• Drawing drafts of the present building that include scale, access and inside versus outside.
• Revisions to the present building including limits, codes to follow, and required permits and fees.
• Meetings:
o Bid preparation, solicitation of bids, and evaluation of bids and bidders.
o Awards: schedule start and track progress.
• Construction site progress:
o Penalties for on-site progress.
o Coordination meetings.
o Changes.
• Completion, warranty, retainage and date of return for evaluation.

Site Selection
Site selection involves consideration of the following:
• Cost to prepare the site.
• Demolition of the site; full and/or partial liability for contaminated sites.
• Site inspection; estimated renovation or rehabilitation required.
• Environmental issues, drainage considerations and wildlife protection.
• Mileage variations to the new facility and cost adjustment.
• Facility growth for five years, 10 years and beyond.
• Alternative fuel use to offset capital outlay.
• Utility access for water, electric and gas.
• Traffic flow.

Layout Alternatives
The following are layout alternatives:
• Stock room access.
• Floor drains: slope.
• Lights: natural and artificial.
• 110-, 220- and 440-volt outlets.
• Ventilation and skylights.
• Concrete finish.
• Water and air lines: freezing.
• Epoxy: hardening.
• Storage: light and heavy.
• Seal and color of concrete.
• Fans for heat and ventilation.
• Compressed air.
• Heavy-duty: workbench, light and air.
• Roof-mounted equipment.
• Drawers: rollout and slide-out.
• Roof integrity: ladders.
• Floor access versus overhead access.
• Floor bolting and painting.
• Oil, air, water and electrical disposal.
• Welding, gas and electric.
• Three-quarter- to half-inch: psi range.
• Posts and doors.
• Antifreeze: new and recycled.
• Brakes and drums.
• Silicon: permanent extended life.
• Cranes: overhead versus jib.
• Recovered oil: antifreeze.
• Waste storage.
• Hazardous versus residual versus commercial wastes.
• Primary, secondary and tertiary storage of hazardous material wastes.
• Line painting: safety.
• Vehicle exhaust system.
• Corner guards.
• Exhaust temperature.
• Convex mirrors.
• Electric fuse box index.
• Mark piping: color code fluid lines.
• Downspout: cast versus aluminum.
• Fifty candlepower at floor level.
• Continuous floor drain: inside diameter.
• Concrete aprons.
• Shop drains: oil water separator.
• Battery room.

Schematic Design
The next step is a schematic design phase during which a layout is drawn to scale, incorporating the customer’s wants and needs and fitting in equipment, HVAC, electrical and plumbing, plus general construction specifications and upgrade of pre-design ideas into acceptable reality. The architect brings experience to the following areas:
• Considerations of present work flow space.
• Whether to leave or transfer present equipment.
• Drafting a new, site-specific layout and defining dimensions.
• Identifying equipment.
• Stating the location of equipment.
• Proposing the fit of equipment in the location.
• Drafting dimensions for electric and fluid needs.
• Brainstorming meetings.

Schematic design issues include the following:
• The new facility is site specific.
• This will alter the present footprint and practices.
• Receptiveness of the occupant to the new layout.
• The cost of change from present practices to new practices.
• The cost per square foot of the new facility for budget purposes.
• Project start date.
• Present date.
• Budget changes.
• Build date.

Design Development
The next stage is design development, which is a solicitations document phase. The architectural drawings are priced from the schematic design phase, and the funding needed is dedicated to this project. If the funding is inadequate, the schematic design phase must be altered to fit the funding, which must include inflation because it will take two to four years to solicit, award, and initiate the project and accommodate the changes.

Retainage – when the general contractor, prime subcontractors and subcontractors are paid, minus a percentage that will be held for warranty resolution – must be defined at this point. What are the amounts, terms and conditions? Target retainage is 15 percent, negotiable to 5 percent. Payment times are six months from the date of occupancy, and any changes have a six-month warranty extension tied to the finish date of that change.

The following elements are included in the design development:
• Drawing submissions and review; traffic and work flow; as-built and final drawings.
• Unique issues:
o Work methods.
o Utilities.
o Communication and time clocks.
o Data processing.
o Security.
• Administration, shop, offices and parking:
o Access for pedestrians and vehicle flow.
o Numbering, odd and even parking spaces.
• Tools and equipment, electric, water and effluent.
• Shop needs:
o Rebuild, repair or preventive maintenance.
o Painting.
o Bodywork.
o Washing.
o Cleaning.

Strategies and Expectations
• Follow Wicks Law with a construction management plan.
• Provide construction management of the general contractor, prime contractors and subcontractors.
• Consider design build versus design and build by one or many architects and engineering firms.
• Company management of the architect and builder.
• Bid preparation, solicitation, evaluation and award.
• Start date, work schedule and coordination meetings.
• Meetings for site selection, design, schedule and site remediation as to its footprint.
• Payment and change orders, threshold limits and penalties.
• Warranty and retainage, training and manuals.

Management Expectations
• Construction progress updates, pictures and videos.
• Script: outline, lesson plan and library of videos.
• Facility maintenance schedule and tasks.
• Application-specific manuals for parts and service.
• Warranty and latent defects and liquidated damages.
• Extended warranty, replacement warranties and double extensions.

Equipment Program
A good equipment program involves consideration of the following:
• Specifications and cut sheet.
• Power: location and work flow.
• Delivery, setup and training.
• Acceptance and payment.
• Warranty and 5 percent estimated retainage.
• Liquidated damages for latent defects.
• Videos:
o One thousand dollars per minute, finished product and multiple choices.
o Tripod, script, outline and lesson plan.
o Equipment vendor instructor.
• Move-in:
o Parts, supplies and materials first (weekend one).
o Skeleton staff (weekday).
o Maintenance and repair staff and their tools (weekend two).
o Transition from one weekend to another weekend.
• A person on-site to manage the warranty-poor materials, poor workmanship and design defects.

A critical issue is that the customer who occupies the finished facility expects a turnkey environment. An experienced architectural and engineering firm will provide a professionally qualified employee to be on-site to manage the 5 percent retainage. This person will sit with the customer, teach him or her how the facility is designed to work, and walk him or her through that process. This costs one person’s salary for six to 18 months depending on the complexity and sophistication of the facility and the equipment installed.

Design development is the time during which specifications are developed for the facility and its equipment for solicitation. These specifications must be a combination of functional and technical details and should include training needs, service, parts and supply books, CDs organized in a standard format with a defined warranty for latent defects (i.e., design defects not readily recognizable), and installation expectations with liquidated damage (late installs) documentation for penalties.

Solicitation of Bids and Award
The solicitation phase details all phases so that subcontractors, prime contractors, general contractors and construction management firms can delineate their costs while being aware of specific time and quality issues.

The design documents convey expectations in every detail so that bid prices can be compared, with the best bid being the lowest bid that addresses all issues. Should the award be split, portions can be divided accurately and a valid comparative analysis can be made.

The next phase is to solicit the contract documents for a request for proposal, where the terms and conditions are reviewed with bidders and suggestions are taken and evaluated to make the documents more accessible to more bidders. This increases competition, which leads to more competitive pricing and better responses. With the bid proposal reviewed and updated as deemed appropriate, now a request for quote can be issued. It is important to solicit as many local job site firms as possible, noting start dates of each phase and technological assignments so that one phase is completed and another can begin. Should a phase be extended unnecessarily, it will force other start times to change. In turn, this will cause schedule delays, delay the project completion date and result in a delay for the new occupant to move into the new facility.

Once the bids are received, compared, analyzed and awarded, bonds are posted along with an agreed-upon completion date.

The principals of the project are named, and the construction site is set up with temporary quarters, phones, faxes, telecommunications, personal computers, networks, offices, files, security and information published to enable all principals to communicate.

Construction Begins
Weekly meetings on the job site are scheduled; the meeting format is agreed upon; a numbered day ledger is opened; daily notes are entered; the schedule is posted; meetings are taped and noted; and the meeting minutes are circulated with timetables established, variances noted, and windows targeted and measured.

On-site progress is monitored by weekly photos from four standard locations. Videotapes are made weekly and dated for historical reference. If it is a public project, appropriate notifications are provided to funding agencies of regular meeting schedules with progress reports and change orders. Contractor changes due to nonperformance are discussed, adjusted, and resolved to keep the project on schedule and to hold costs to estimates.

Most governmental projects have regulatory requirements to communicate project progress to the different agencies that fund prorated projects (e.g., 75 percent federal, 10 percent state and 15 percent city). Each entity would contribute, at predetermined times, percentages of the total funding of the monies to pay the contracted firms. A time and completion plan is defined to direct this process.

For example, Wicks Law states that a construction management firm must monitor the progress of the general contractor, prime contractors and subcontractors; facilitate changes to keep the integrity of the program on time and uphold the quality of work; and be responsible to the funding agencies to inform them of progress and corrective actions taken to keep the project on time and at the estimated cost. This must be done on a regular basis at a minimum of monthly or targeted quarterly intervals so that payments are received on expected due dates.

During the on-site construction phase, inspectors monitor the progress in the on-site job ledger and discuss issues weekly with the prime contractors and subcontractors.

When the project is completed, a walk-through is scheduled with the general contractor, prime contractors and subcontractors. The walk-through is videotaped and a punch list is developed. Also, a written summary is drafted for tracking fixes with reference to compliance for penalty and payment validation.

Move-In Program
Around the time when closure is evident from the punch list, a move-in program is started with the client. The move-in process is defined, sequenced and prioritized, with shelving, furniture, phones, and equipment in place and tested. A temporary certificate of occupancy is obtained. A person from the construction management firm is assigned to coordinate the move, supervise the start-up, and work out the glitches and bugs with the management of the retainage so that the transition is smooth and a comfort level is established and maintained.

The occupant needs support in the day-to-day operations of the facility, in familiarity with the as-built drawings, and in problem-solving or troubleshooting of equipment problems. The on-site representative of the construction management firm is familiar with the general contractor, prime contractors and subcontractors. He or she can facilitate any problem-solving and troubleshooting with the principals, or the retainage can be used to hire other firms to correct the problems.

The on-site person’s salary and expenses could be funded from retainage. When funding runs out in 18 months, that person would leave because the momentum of the new facility would be up to speed and would meet the design and functional expectations.

Each piece of equipment should have a manual that is standardized in a common format that complements a video of the equipment operations and training, with three sets of each. One set should be kept on-site for day-to-day use, one set should be maintained in the corporate library to copy in case the on-site copy is in use or missing, and one set should be stored off-site for reference and as a copy resource.

Client Involvement
In order for the project to be successful, close interaction is required by the design team from the construction management firm, the design firm and the occupants of the new facility.

The new facility, aside from site specifics and the design complement of topography footprint, should be built around the client-occupant if the client will manage his facility for five to 10 years upon its completion. Designs and work flows are flexible and should fit the client’s needs or perceived needs.

Depending on his or her experience, the architect has a perspective that is limited because he or she does not have experience working in this or any other similar facility. Given a set of circumstances and limitations, the architect can provide alternatives based on his or her experience.

The client will use the facility day after day, so he or she will need to move seamlessly into the new facility and show increased productivity because of the features and benefits the new facility will offer.

Day to day there are three perspectives we need to acknowledge:
• The way one person sees it (the architect/engineer).
• The way another sees it (the occupant).
• The way it really is (general contractor and/or construction management firm).

It is the general contractor and construction management firm’s responsibility to see that the architect, engineer and occupant see what it is in the same way.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime event. You need experience and savvy to do it. If you’ve never done this before, the architect and engineer bring experience and savvy for your consideration. They understand and are attuned to help you get the facility you need to increase productivity and improve your safety experience.

About the Author: John Dolce is a fleet facility and maintenance specialist employed by Wendel Companies, an architectural and engineering firm. He is an active consultant, instructor and fleet manager with more than 40 years of experience in the public and private sector. Dolce has written three fleet-related textbooks and teaches fleet management courses at the University of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee and Madison campuses.

More Than a Fill-Up

Fuel is simply too expensive to ignore. It has been the No. 1 equipment-related cost item for years in most operations. For some fleets it has surpassed the cost of labor and become a fleet’s leading expense item. Combine this with costs associated with environmental regulations pertaining to fuel storage facilities, and it’s easy to see that management attention is highly desirable for any operation that has its own fueling facilities.

Outsourcing the Job
You can probably do the job completely in-house, but that’s a bit like doing your own taxes. You’re more than likely going to miss something, something that might cost you a lot of money because you might never know you missed it until it’s too late. Like the availability of tax consultants, there are people who offer services that provide greater control, with less effort and better results for environmental compliance than what one is likely to accomplish alone.

Veeder-Root is one such company. Gilbarco Veeder-Root Fuel Management Services and Solutions is described as a Web-enabled system that provides management control for environmental compliance and equipment uptime. “Our fuel management services program is targeted at the monitoring and management of fuel,” said Kent Reid, the company’s vice president of strategic development.

The program helps limit compliance risk while providing fuel supply system uptime through continuous monitoring and real-time analysis of data transmitted wirelessly for remote diagnosis and resolution of any problems. The company’s experienced specialists oversee data from state-of-the-art infrastructure that is remotely monitoring tens of thousands of sites around the world today.

“We have two levels regarding compliance,” Reid said. “Many of the requirements of federal regulations concerning underground fuel storage tanks can be met with the installation of an automatic tank gauge. This is a device that monitors the entire fuel supply system at a location. A basic service is to monitor the data from such systems, archive it and report it to the customer so that he can be assured he is in compliance. We, of course, provide guidance or warnings when compliance tests have not been completed successfully.”

Additional Options
There are also a number of alarms that can be generated by an automatic tank gauge system. If an alarm were to occur, Reid said, “At the customer’s option, we can simply provide notification that an alarm has occurred via email or text so that the customer can manage the situation and take care of the problem. Or we will manage those alarms for him, in which case we will provide troubleshooting, dispatch and then whatever action is necessary to make sure any problems are solved as quickly as possible.”

In conjunction with its Gilbarco and Gasboy brands, the company has the ability to connect directly with fuel pumps using electronic meter registers that read customer ID cards and bring that information into the system to report on vehicle mileage and fuel consumption. Such registers can be installed on mobile fueling equipment for on-site fueling and management control. More information is available at www.gilbarco.com and www.veeder.com.

Go Green
Veeder-Root is not the only company offering wireless fueling data capture and analysis. E.J. Ward has a proven automated fuel management solution that integrates both hardware and software. The company has also developed a program designed to help fleets reduce their carbon footprints. Called Go Green, this program provides fleets with the resources needed to manage their green fleet initiatives through advance reporting, improved driver behavior and proactive maintenance scheduling, according to the company.

The Ward Go Green program includes equipment to track and monitor vehicle idling through which idling can be minimized. It also supports proactive preventive maintenance and notifies customers when vehicles are scheduled for or need maintenance. The Ward Go Green program includes technology capable of tracking driver behavior as well, which gives the fleet information necessary to determine if training is needed to improve driving habits.

The company has a team of green fleet specialists who are available to work with fleets interested in developing a customized solution to improve their vehicles’ environmental and operating performance. More information about the Go Green program and Ward’s automated fuel management solutions is available by visiting www.ejward.com.

About the Author: Tom Gelinas is a U.S. Army veteran who spent nearly a decade as a physicist before joining Irving-Cloud Publishing Co. While at Irving-Cloud, he worked in various editorial capacities for several trade publications including Fleet Equipment, Heavy Duty Equipment Maintenance and Transport Technology Today. Gelinas is a founding member of Truck Writers of North America, a professional association, and a contributing writer for Utility Fleet Professional.

Modernizing Your Shop: Productivity, Space and Technician Considerations

In order to keep up with the evolution of your fleet, it may be time to analyze the layout of your current shop to determine if you need to upgrade the facility or design and build a new facility.

To give you an idea of what happens when an organization doesn’t keep up with the evolution of its fleet, let’s review an example of a facility that operated when horses pulled wagons. The horses lived in barns. When the horseless carriage was introduced and there was no longer a need for the horses, they were sold and the barns were used to store, maintain and repair the horseless carriages. As the horseless carriage became more advanced, more were added to the fleet and the barn was modified to meet the needs of the carriages. The increase in the size of the vehicles forced the carriages to be stored outside so that maintenance, service and repair could take place inside the barn.

Lights and equipment such as jacks, lifts, drill presses, welding tools, gantry cranes, parts and supply areas, tire service areas, pits, wash areas and battery rooms were added. This addition process eventually converted the barn into a garage without physically replacing the barn. While it wasn’t an ideal situation, everyone made do. In this case, the symptom was treated, but the root cause was not addressed.

As the fleet increased in size, more staff members were hired. The space, however, stayed about the same. Two people worked on one vehicle in one bay, which was big enough to hold half the vehicle, but the other half extended outside. An unanticipated factor – weather – thus affected productivity. If it rained, the workers got wet and took significantly more time to perform the task at hand. If the weather turned cold, the door was propped open, the heater kept running and the heat escaped the building.

Built for Productivity
In contrast, let’s look at an example of a medical surgery facility that was designed and built for its specific purpose – efficiency and medical excellence. There is one operating room and multiple patients who are waiting to get procedures.

In this scenario, if a patient needs hip surgery, the surgeon speaks with the patient, diagnoses the problem at the office, determines the time it will take to complete the procedure and secures an operating room for a fixed period of time. Using a 10-hour time frame as an example, the surgeon, knowing a hip replacement takes approximately two hours, will schedule five patients for that period of time. Some patients will take 1.5 hours and some will take 2.5 hours.

After 10 hours and five procedures, with backup staff in the operating room to cover breaks and emergencies, this becomes a very efficient process. The operating room has all the tools, space and supplies for all staff members to be productive because it was designed this way before it was built.

In the case of the barn, servicing vehicles is less efficient in that space because – while there is the potential for numerous vehicles to be in the facility at the same time – it was originally built to house horses, not vehicles.

What Impacts Productivity?
With proper space allocation, a garage can offer both the potential of a reduced carbon footprint and the opportunity for increased productivity. Creating the garage is a once-in-a-lifetime event that demands experienced planning. Because almost every act is sequenced for efficiency and productivity, a fleet business requires order and discipline. Tools, supplies, equipment, fluids, monitors and support services must be laid out to efficiently maintain the fleet.

Due to funding limitations and other priorities, organizations often make do with existing facilities, outdated equipment and inefficient worker footprints, which can negatively affect productivity and result in energy loss. Space limitations and unscheduled work, in particular, can impact productivity.

Scheduled work, on the other hand, is easier to manage. When a vehicle is brought into a shop for a preventive maintenance inspection, the technician knows how much time the process will take – it has been performed many times and is sequenced with the technician’s activity. Mechanics are trained in this process, and since all the necessary resources are available, all inspections can be assigned to a bay for scheduled work in a predictable time frame.

When you consider the job requirements of a staff of technicians, there are more than 500 types of tasks they may be responsible for. Some of these tasks are done repetitively, including work on brakes, radiators and water pumps, wheel removal and replacement, and air/oil filter changes. These tasks, however, make up only 30 percent of total maintenance work, meaning just 30 percent of work hours can predictably be assigned to work bays. That means 70 percent of the remaining work is unpredictable and requires more space per job.

What is the impact of unscheduled work? Let’s say a technician brings a vehicle into the shop that has been identified by a driver as having noise in the engine and a lack of power. If the technician diagnoses the number five cylinder as the problem, removes the piston and finds the wrist pin is also defective, a delay occurs. Since the shop does not stock wrist pins or fit pistons, the work on this part will have to be sent out. This causes the bay to be tied up until the parts come in and the technician installs them. What do the technicians assigned to this bay do while waiting for the part? They should be put to work in another bay. Theoretically, each unscheduled technician needs one-and-a-half bays assigned to him or her to be productive. Doubling up people in a bay can lead to delays and is unproductive.

Calculating Space and Technician Needs
How, then, are space needs calculated? Since space is a capital issue, having too little space can be just as bad as having too much space. This expense has to be prioritized and a three- to five-year return on investment – or more – has to be justified.

Let’s assume that a fleet workload was 20,000 hours in the last 12 months. As the fleet gets older or grows, the work increases 10 percent per year with a limited replacement program. Of the 20,000 hours, 2,000 were completed outside the shop while responding to road calls, breakdowns and tire changes, leaving 18,000 hours for shop work. Based on that information, how much space is needed? If the shop is open eight hours per day, five days per week, 52 weeks per year on one shift, that is 2,080 hours per year, per bay available on one shift. The 18,000 hours divided by 2,080 hours in bay availability equals 8.65 bays on one shift, which means that nine bays are needed at a bare minimum for vehicle service. For 20,000 hours with one shift, 9.62 or 10 bays are needed at a minimum. If you have multiple shifts, this requirement could be broken down to five bays on two shifts or four bays on three shifts.

How many technicians are needed? If one technician works five days a week, eight hours per day for 52 weeks, that would equal 2,080 payroll hours. In addition, technicians are also paid for 280 hours when they are not at work, as follows:
• Three weeks for vacation (120 hours).
• Two weeks for holidays (80 hours).
• One week for training (40 hours).
• One week for illness (40 hours).

This brings the total working hours down to 1,800. If you factor in time for washing up and coffee breaks, this adds up to 225 hours. If another 275 hours are added for diagnostic, cleaning, parts retrieval and toolbox time, working hours now total a net of 1,300 hours per available technician.

If you divide the 20,000 hours (the 12-month workload) by 1,300 (the hours per technician), this equals 15.38 technicians. Let’s presume the .38 is used in overtime or vendor work and that 15 technicians are needed for the 12-month period. If you factor in 10 percent inflation for the aging of the vehicles, that equals 22,000 hours. Divide that by 1,300 for a total of 16.92, or 17 technicians that will be needed for the next year.

If the average of scheduled work is 30 percent and the unscheduled work average is 70 percent, the number of bays needed is calculated below:
• 17 technicians x 30% = 5 technicians who need 1 bay each for a total of 5 bays.
• 17 technicians x 70% = 12 technicians who need 1.5 bays each for a total of 18 bays.

This shows that 23 bays are needed for one shift, 12 bays are needed for a two-shift operation and eight bays are needed for a three-shift operation.

If this is a nine-bay shop and there is only one shift working, 14 bays need to be added. If it is a two-shift schedule, three more bays need to be added, the work needs to be sent to vendors or the staff needs to be reduced to fit the nine bays. Three shifts would work. In most cases, until space is expanded, productivity is being choked.

Keep in mind that there are reasonable solutions to these problems, but they first need to be identified. A logical process must be followed when determining whether to expand or reduce the size of the present shop, relocate to another facility or build a new shop.

Consider Your Options
What are the costs of upgrading an existing building compared to building a new facility? Which is more cost-effective?

Consider the impact of a no-build or existing building upgrade option at $125 per square foot. In addition to the square-foot cost, facility and shop equipment costs will add an estimated 30 percent to the total no-build estimated cost. These total costs for upgrading should be compared to the total costs to build a new replacement facility.

Next, consider designing and building a new garage with the proper number of work bays – which are typically 20 feet wide and 50 feet long – and a parts support area that is 20 percent of the total work space for a light-duty fleet, with 33 percent of the total work space allotted for a heavy-duty fleet, including offices, locker rooms, showers, toilets, a lunch area and other support services. The square-foot cost of a new facility is estimated to be $200 per square foot plus the cost of equipment such as lifts, lathes, benches, cranes, storage shelves and optional equipment. These costs will add an estimated 30 percent to the total new-build estimated cost. Note that some items can be disassembled from the old building and reassembled in the new facility depending on their age, condition and project life cycle.

A service provider may want to consider the option of building a shared facility that is equally accessible to other fleet maintenance providers. This option can significantly reduce funding requirements.

Environmental upgrades add cost to the new building option, and you will also need to consider the layout of the new site in terms of parking, traffic flow, and bay and support area configurations.

In addition, organizations need to determine if they can work in the present facility while upgrading or if they will need to relocate to a temporary facility. This is determined by the present operation and the type of equipment being used. Shuttle time from domicile to route assignments should be considered as well.

With the construction cost calculated and its features and benefits evaluated, a comparison of the new alternative can be made to the no-build alternative, and a choice can be made: rebuild the present facility, replace it with a new facility, partially rebuild the present facility or do nothing. With the do-nothing approach, the present facility is used as is, work not handled cost-effectively can be outsourced, and/or part of the workload can be relocated to another smaller facility closer to the domiciled vehicle location.

Unless you choose the do-nothing approach, the next step is implementing the chosen solution. Be sure to pick up the next issue of Utility Fleet Professional for an in-depth look at the implementation process.

About the Author: John Dolce is a fleet facility and maintenance specialist employed by Wendel Companies, an architectural and engineering firm. He is an active consultant, instructor and fleet manager with more than 40 years of experience in the public and private sector. Dolce has written three fleet-related textbooks and teaches fleet management courses at the University of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee and Madison campuses.


Controlling Costs with Fuel Cards

Whether a gallon of fuel costs $4, $2 or somewhere in between, it’s most likely going to represent your largest equipment-related expense. Because of that, it only makes sense to do everything possible to control what is charged against fuel in your fleet. In times past, drivers, who would need to purchase fuel before returning to a controlled distribution location, were often given cash and told to bring in receipts to cover what was spent. Who could tell how many truck stop lunches were included in those receipts? Thankfully, those days are pretty much gone.

Leading the Way
Today, the use of fuel cards is a leading way for fleets of any size to control fuel costs. These work like charge cards for drivers, but limit transactions and report exactly what the charge is for, how much is charged and when the charge occurs. When a fleet enters into an agreement with a fuel card company, fleet management can decide exactly what can be purchased with the card. It can be limited to fuel only; include some maintenance items or a specific dollar amount for food or personal items on a daily or weekly basis; or even provide for an emergency cash advance. As Darry Stuart, president and CEO of DWS Fleet Management Services (www.darrystuart.com), put it, “The use of a fuel card offers fleet management the ability to control any expense charged against that card. You can pretty much decide ahead of time just how many hot dogs a driver can charge for lunch.”

For example, WEX Inc. (www.wexinc.com) – the company formerly known as Wright Express that has been in the fuel card business for 30 years and continues to be a leader in the industry with almost 7 million of its cards being used by more than 350,000 business customers – offers a range of controls. One, which the company refers to as a hard control, may prohibit the purchase of fuel anytime on a Saturday or the purchase of any groceries. A soft control does not prevent a particular transaction, but it does trigger a real-time alert to notify the fleet manager of activity outside the stated policy. For instance, it would be unusual for a driver to need to fuel a vehicle three times in one day; however, there may be extenuating circumstances. The fleet manager would likely want to be notified of these transactions, but may not want to prevent them. “These exception-based controls allow customers to manage more efficiently,” said Bernie Kavanagh, WEX vice president of corporate payment solutions.

“What a driver can purchase with a WEX card will be set by the company’s fueling policy,” Kavanagh explained. “We have a product-type control through which we restrict what a driver can purchase. A manager can decide if a driver can purchase only fuel or have the ability to purchase other automotive fluids like DEF, oil, wiper fluid, etc., but not groceries or any heavy maintenance since the fleet probably has a maintenance program in place. The card allows the purchase of whatever the manager decides. Anything else will be declined.”

Fuel card companies normally capture transaction data in real time and make it available to fleet managers via secure websites. Summary reports are, of course, also available per a customer’s request. Such reports can be supplied via fax or online, and can include the card number, the vehicle unit number and its odometer reading, the driver’s name, the time and location where the purchase was made, and the price and amount of fuel purchased.

Fuel Card Savings
Some fuel cards come with a price discount at stations within their networks. These often take the form of the price indicated on the pump minus an agreed-upon amount or the price the fueling station pays for the fuel plus a small additional amount.

Such cards, however, commonly have a relatively restricted network, being accepted by as little as a few thousand locations compared to cards that charge pump price. WEX customers, for example, pay pump price, but know its drivers’ cards are accepted almost universally and that it will still receive any discounts it might have negotiated with fuel suppliers.

While fleets generally report that fuel cards offer an operating expense savings, it’s obviously important to understand what costs you will incur by using the service. Some card companies charge no transaction fees while others charge monthly fees. Some charge for reports; others don’t. If you’re considering the use of fuel cards, make sure you know about any fees you will incur and that your expected savings will cover them.

All fuel cards are not the same as some offer features more useful for particular operations. For example, some cards – in particular those intended for use by over-the-road operators – allow for cash advances for emergency purposes. Others are designed for local fleets that fuel from private facilities as well as retail locations, which is common for both utility and government operations.

About the Author: Tom Gelinas is a U.S. Army veteran who spent nearly a decade as a physicist before joining Irving-Cloud Publishing Company. While at Irving-Cloud, he worked in various editorial capacities for several trade publications including Fleet Equipment, Heavy Duty Equipment Maintenance and Transport Technology Today. Gelinas is a founding member of Truck Writers of North America, a professional association, and a contributing writer for Utility Fleet Professional.


HTUF Report

Held in mid-September in Charlotte, N.C., the 11th Annual High-Efficiency Truck Users Forum served again as an educational and networking event for manufacturers, suppliers, fleets and government officials interested in learning the latest about high-efficiency truck technology.

HTUF has been very successful in helping launch the first production of hybrid trucks and is credited with reducing product development time by up to two years. When the conference was first held, no major truck manufacturer was offering electric or hybrid trucks. Today, there are more than 30 different electric, hybrid electric, hydraulic hybrid and workplace hybrid trucks available.

At this year’s conference, three federal government and private industry representatives took center stage. Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, discussed policy initiatives to create clean energy jobs, tackle climate change and reduce dependence on oil.

Also on the HTUF agenda was Dr. Dane Boysen, program director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, who addressed technology research and development initiatives that ARPA-e is funding and how they are accelerating advanced technology market penetration. ARPA-e has made investments in advanced batteries, electric motors and lightweight materials that could enable fleets to dramatically reduce reliance on oil over the next decade. HTUF also featured David Mohler, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Duke Energy, who covered the increasing connections between vehicles, the grid and saving energy.

“We are very pleased to have secured key leading officials from the federal government and industry at HTUF,” said John Boesel, CALSTART president and CEO. “Clean energy jobs and reducing our dependence on oil are core elements of the president’s energy policy, and the Pentagon continues to focus on energy efficiency as a critical component of the nation’s energy security.

“Beyond conventional clean diesel engines, there are now at least five different advanced propulsion systems for commercial and military trucks,” Boesel continued. “At this year’s conference, fleets learned how each of these new drivetrains can be applied and utilized. Never before have there been such opportunities to cost-effectively transition away from dependence on the highly volatile and unstable world oil market.” Visit www.htuf.org.

Odyne Systems Showcases Plug-In Hybrid Systems
Odyne Systems LLC, a manufacturer of hybrid systems for medium- and heavy-duty work trucks, displayed its hybrid propulsion system on a Ford F-750 chassis at HTUF. Odyne plug-in hybrid systems are designed to interface with a wide variety of truck-mounted equipment. Driven through the Allison 3000 RDS transmission, the system uses a Remy electric motor in parallel with the existing drivetrain to provide launch assist and regenerative braking. At the job site, the Johnson Controls’ lithium-ion battery packs power work site applications. Visit www.odyne.com.

Kenworth Delivers with T440 CNG Truck
Kenworth Truck Co. showcased a Kenworth T440 compressed natural gas (CNG) tractor during HTUF. The T440 CNG is equipped with an 8.9-liter Cummins Westport ISL G engine and a six-speed Allison 3000 HS transmission. The model is available as a straight truck or tractor in a gross vehicle weight ranging from a heavy Class 7 vehicle at 33,000 pounds to a light Class 8 at 68,000 pounds. The ISL G engine uses a maintenance-free, three-way catalyst. Rated at 320 HP and 1,000 pounds per feet of torque, the engine’s torque curve closely matches that of its diesel counterparts. Visit www.kenworth.com.

The Electrification Coalition, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit group of business leaders committed to promoting policies and actions that facilitate the deployment of electric vehicles on a mass scale, has issued the following report on the electrification of the Pacific Gas & Electric fleet.

In 2011, the Pacific Gas & Electric vehicle fleet racked up 114 million miles of travel, many of them logged servicing lines and other equipment that deliver power to customers. As a critical service provider, PG&E must purchase vehicles capable of supporting its mission in low-probability, high-impact situations like severe unplanned power outages. In these scenarios, vehicles must sometimes travel great distances across the company’s service territory and then operate buckets and other repair equipment once on site. In fact, even routine service calls can vary greatly by distance, necessitating flexibility and putting a premium on range and refueling.

Because its vehicles have a low level of route predictability, PG&E is pursuing an acquisition strategy that prioritizes plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and electric work-site idle management systems (EWIMS), which are plug-in vehicles whose batteries provide power for a range of job site functions, but do not move the wheels. PG&E’s fleet of PHEVs is generally spread throughout its passenger cars and pickup trucks. The passenger cars are typically pool vehicles used by employees for work-related travel. These vehicles tend to travel only short distances. The pickup trucks are primarily work trucks, but are also driven by job site supervisors and foremen. PG&E’s EWIMS are Class 6 trucks and are a mix of bucket trucks and material handlers.

In addition to extended range, PG&E’s emerging fleet of PHEV pickup trucks provides the company with an additional strategic benefit. A typical PHEV relies largely on its onboard battery for power over a given mileage range. When the battery is depleted to specific level, the vehicle then relies on an onboard gasoline-powered generator to provide power to the battery, operating essentially as a gasoline-electric hybrid. PG&E has recently begun deploying a handful of retrofitted PHEV pickup trucks manufactured by companies like Orem, Utah-based VIA Motors. These vehicles currently feature between 15 and 100 kW of exportable power, and there is potential to increase that number. When these vehicles are on a job site, their onboard generator can bypass the battery and export electricity to a different destination like power tools or even a transformer.

Work site management technology is a logical fit for the duty cycle associated with PG&E’s Class 6 bucket trucks. These vehicles, which are typically located at a job site for six to eight hours per day, often consume more diesel fuel idling than driving. This is because work site repair functions – operation of the bucket and associated equipment – normally require the truck to be running, using its engine as a generator. It’s an inefficient use of fuel, but has historically been the only option. Today’s EWIMS technology utilizes an onboard battery to power job site equipment, allowing the engine to be turned off and saving fuel. The battery can be recharged by plugging into the grid or by a secondary onboard alternator that provides electricity to the battery while the vehicle is driving. The savings associated with the technology are substantial: In 2011 alone, PG&E saved more than $700,000 on fuel across its fleet of 178 EWIMS work trucks manufactured by Birmingham, Ala.-based Altec.

Finally, as an electric utility, PG&E arguably has an elevated level of interest in understanding plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) and working to support their commercialization. By the end of 2012, the company will own a total of 400 PEVs, ranking it solidly among the top three U.S. commercial fleets in terms of PEV ownership. Perhaps more interestingly, PG&E’s current fleet of PEVs have been sourced from seven different original equipment manufacturers.

A number of factors were taken into consideration as PG&E explored the possibility of adding PEVs to its fleet. The vehicles carry a great deal of promise due to a number of economic, regulatory and environmental benefits, but there are also a number of important challenges. PG&E offered insight into its decision-making process by ranking various factors and discussing their rationale around each one in detail.

Total Cost of Ownership: A vehicle’s total cost of ownership (TCO) – its upfront capital costs combined with operating costs over a specific number of years or miles traveled – is a standard tool for comparing the economics of various technologies. However, while TCO may provide a useful starting point for comparison in the abstract, a vehicle’s purchase price is a more pressing real-world consideration for many fleet operators, PG&E included. This is particularly the case when it comes to purchasing new technologies like PEVs. Any assessment of TCO will necessarily be based on a series of assumptions about performance, some of which may ultimately be less precise for the first generation of a given technology. This type of uncertainty ultimately increases the level of risk placed on the fleet customer. Utilities like PG&E can be particularly capital constrained, in the sense that budgets are often set several years in advance through regulatory filings. Therefore, the higher capital cost of PEV purchases either has to be justified to the regulator – and ultimately the rate payer – or it has to displace other spending. If a plug-in vehicle carries a cost premium of 25 percent, it means a utility with a fixed budget can only purchase four PEVs for the same cost as five traditional vehicles, leaving one vehicle in need of replacement in the field. This attrition represents an operational risk that no utility would likely take on. Therefore, in evaluating the size and timing of its PEV purchases, PG&E is mostly focused on the impact these acquisitions will have on capital budgets. Whether a fleet manager purchases or leases a vehicle, there is a monthly payment associated with it. For PEVs, this payment is currently higher than the payment for a comparable traditional vehicle. If the net of this capital premium less operational savings (reduced fuel expenditures) results in a higher total monthly outlay, it becomes hard to justify. There is intense competition for capital within PG&E, and the higher payment associated with a PEV purchase is capital that is unavailable to be spent on other projects – or booked as profit.

Access to Competitive Financing: Increasingly, fleet customers are looking to commercial financing entities to help manage the capital cost challenge of PEVs. Of course, financing is not a magic wand that can make something inherently expensive become cheap. So what PG&E is particularly interested in is managing the cost structure of PEV purchases as opposed to managing the actual cost of the vehicles. Actual vehicle costs will decline over time due to some combination of manufacturing scale and technological improvements, but the cost structure – that is, the way customers deal with the price premium on PEVs – could potentially be addressed in the near term. One possible avenue to cost management through competitive financing is an extended term on vehicle useful life. For example, PG&E currently finances its purchases of pickup trucks in line with industry common practice, which typically assumes a six- or seven-year vehicle life. However, publicly available data confirms that the age of the average light-duty truck on the road in the United States has increased every year since 2000 and now stands at more than 10 years. By extending the vehicle useful life assumed in standard financing packages for these trucks by three years, the cost premium would be spread out over a greater term, giving fleet customers more capital flexibility and encouraging more PEV purchases. It’s a challenging proposition for an unproven technology, but it’s one way PG&E is working to manage cost.

Operational Benefits: Another option for managing costs is to make sure you are capturing all the benefits. Generally speaking, in terms of performance, utilities get graded on two things: the number of service outages and the duration of those outages. In measuring the number of outages, there is essentially no discrimination between an outage that affects 10 customers and one that affects 10,000 customers. Moreover, regulators do not discriminate between outages that are unplanned and those that are planned. While unplanned outages arising from weather and other unexpected events account for some of PG&E’s service calls, planned outages to repair lines and upgrade transformers account for a substantial portion of total outages. While VIA Motors’ PHEV pickup trucks currently allow for just 15 kW of exportable power, the company is working to increase that capacity to 50 kW. In larger applications, like a retrofitted Ford F-450 from Electric Vehicles International, PG&E believes it is already possible to get close to 100 kW. Altec’s Class 6 EWIMS truck currently features 3 kW of exportable power. Considering that the power needs of the average home in California today are roughly 5 kilowatts, the possibilities for providing backup power to homes – even whole neighborhoods – during outages could be significant. Put another way, the largest portion of neighborhood transformers in the PG&E service territory are fewer than 100 kW (125 kVA). While reliably exporting this kind of power is still a speculative prospect at this point, PG&E believes it is possible to get there in the near term. If accomplished, it’s a technological milestone that would fundamentally change the utility business, allowing companies like PG&E to virtually eliminate planned outages arising from transformer maintenance and upgrades. In a business built around service reliability, this kind of operational advantage could be a game changer for improving customer relations and strengthening utilities’ standing with regulators.

Vehicle Maintenance Savings: PG&E is realizing real savings on maintenance costs for its fleet of PEVs. Conventional wisdom suggests that the savings on maintenance compared to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will be greatest for battery electric vehicles (EVs). This is because the EV drivetrain has the fewest moving parts relative to internal combustion engine vehicles. PHEVs, which retain the use of an engine and fueling system, still require oil and other fuel changes as well as general engine maintenance. Nonetheless, PG&E reports that spending on these maintenance items for its fleet of Chevy Volt PHEVs is lower than spending on comparable ICE models. PG&E attributes the savings to the relatively high portion of electric miles driven by its Chevy Volts, which have an all-electric range of 30 to 40 miles. Employees’ average trip in San Francisco, where the bulk of PG&E’s Volts are located, is just 11 miles. Two notable categories of maintenance savings being captured by PG&E are reduced spending on brake pads and tires for vehicles in San Francisco. The city’s hilly terrain takes a toll on vehicle brakes, which the company estimates it replaces every six months for traditional ICE vehicles. However, initial experience suggests that the brake pads on PG&E’s fleet of Chevy Volt PHEVs will last as long as two years between replacements under the same conditions due to regenerative braking. By essentially running the vehicle’s electric motor in reverse, regenerative braking slows the Volt as soon as the driver lets off the accelerator, converting this kinetic energy into electricity that helps recharge the battery. During actual braking, the regenerative system augments the conventional braking system, a process that offsets friction that wears on the pads. At the same time, it appears that this process is also reducing wear on tires that occurs normally during harder stopping, leading to less frequent tire replacement.

Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure: By focusing on PHEVs and EWIMS work trucks, PG&E’s vehicle electrification strategy fundamentally avoids reliance on public charging infrastructure. However, charging infrastructure located at a vehicle’s overnight parking location is still of high importance for recharging the battery after a typical day’s use. In some cases, PEVs are driven home by employees. But in other cases – such as pool vehicles – a number of units are parked at a central facility. In these cases, PG&E reports that that the cost of installing charging infrastructure can be a significant challenge. In 2011, PG&E installed 35 charging stations for pool vehicles at its downtown San Francisco headquarters. The units were installed in an underground secure parking facility. The hardware cost for individual chargers was extremely manageable at approximately $800 per unit. However, construction costs for running power into the underground facility from the street above are estimated to have been roughly $350,000 – more than 90 percent of the total project cost. PG&E reports that the necessary additional wiring ran only 350 feet, placing the cost at $1,000 per foot. The lesson as always is that cracking concrete for charging infrastructure installation is likely to be expensive in most cases. This is especially true when facilities are being retrofit, particularly in high-cost urban areas. Where companies or government agencies have the opportunity to incorporate charging infrastructure into new construction, costs can be dramatically reduced and better managed.

Sam Ori, director of policy at the Electrification Coalition, recently sat down with Dave Meisel, director of transportation services at PG&E, to get a firsthand understanding of how the company’s electrification strategy is playing out in a real-world project. What follows are highlights from the discussion.

You often talk about the unexpected benefits of PEVs for your broader business. How do EWIMS fit into that?
One of the biggest things that we have seen with our EWIMS is the noise reduction. On our traditional bucket trucks, everything is PTO-driven. A mechanical shaft from the engine runs a pump and that’s what moves the bucket. So to operate the bucket, you have to have the truck running, and it makes a lot of noise. But in residential areas of San Francisco, there are noise restrictions in place that essentially make it impossible for us to do routine work using conventional trucks between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. That’s no longer an issue with an electric bucket because it’s silent. The engine is off. It’s expanded the workday by 100 percent – from 12 hours to 24 hours. In the past, if a PG&E crew was doing new construction and it got to be 7 p.m., they had to stop. It didn’t matter if there were just two hours of work to go. They had to stop, take the whole site down – which could take about an hour – go home for the night and then come back again in the morning. At that point, they had set everything back up again – which takes another hour – do two hours of work and then take it down again. With an EWIMS bucket truck, they can just work the additional two hours on the first day and be done, avoiding unnecessary time spent getting to and from the job as well as costly setup and takedown hours. The customer is happier and we’re more efficient.

How have the drivers reacted?
I’ll go back to the noise. In the utility business, you often work in pairs. One crew member is up in the bucket and the other is at the ground level. With a traditional bucket, the crew has to communicate over the noise of a running vehicle, which can really be a challenge. But in the case of an EWIMS truck, the engine is off and it’s quiet, so communication is much, much easier. Drivers absolutely love that. I would also add that, especially in our business, an enhanced level of communication actually puts our employees in a much safer situation. When a crew member in the bucket is talking to his colleague on the ground, he is trying to get a handle on critical information that has a material impact on job safety. Making it easier to communicate and have a higher level of confidence in information has been a huge hit with our employees. That enhanced feeling of safety is something that happens every time you go to work. Without question there are other benefits. The work crews certainly appreciate not having to be around the tailpipe emissions of a traditional diesel vehicle idling on a job site over a period of several hours. And the abatement of those emissions is also good for urban air quality. That’s a significant plus for us as a corporation.

The EWIMS technology is really a perfectly customized solution. How did you get there?
The drivers of these vehicles are some of our most highly skilled personnel. They are generally our first responders. What that means operationally is that they do a lot of tickets in a single day – lots of shorter stops to deal with pressing issues. They are at an individual site for an average of maybe two hours. They make a fix and move on to the next job. We wanted a system that would work off the battery and be capable of plugging in to the grid, but that couldn’t be the only way the battery recharged. So we developed the secondary alternator that recharges the battery as the vehicle moves from job to job. We also made sure that the battery was big enough to cover all of the work that would be done in a normal day without running the vehicle at any job site. To get there I would say we worked hand in hand with Altec. They have about 70 percent of the U.S. market for bucket trucks, so they understand our business and have a commitment to customer solutions. Our vehicle design and engineering team at PG&E had an idea for an electric bucket system that we felt would save us money and provide a whole range of operational efficiencies. We sketched out our idea in principle, took it to Altec and six months later the first vehicle rolled off the production line. It has worked out really well.

People often talk about the economics of these technologies in broad generalities. What can you say about your experience?
I can tell you that we are getting about a two-and-a-half-year payback on our Class 6 EWIMS trucks. We make business decisions to make money, plain and simple. So we wouldn’t be doing this if it didn’t work for the company. To me, it all goes back to lining up the right technology with the right application. People think electrification has to be about the propulsion system only. But that isn’t where we are using the most fuel in this particular application. Electrify where it makes sense to electrify. The fleet industry uses PTO shafts in a variety of applications, by the way: dump trucks, refrigerated trucks and more. They’re all shaft-driven, and today they all use a diesel engine to power that shaft. That function could be powered by a battery in all these applications.

I know you spend a lot of time thinking about ways to be creative in terms of integrating these technologies into your business model. What have you learned from your EWIMS deployment?
When we first started looking at these vehicles, we were thinking about them in terms of payback period. So we did a standard analysis comparing current technology costs and fuel consumption to the cost of the new technology and projected fuel savings. But what we have learned is that the operating savings, improved relationship with our customers, the extended work day and the safety improvements dwarf the fuel savings. What we also learned is that, frankly, there is a lot that we as an industry can’t measure when evaluating these technologies with a standard approach to ROI or payback period. So PG&E treats each application as a unique situation and evaluates it individually. Let me also say that the economic impact of these vehicles extends beyond just PG&E. We just had the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new facility here in Dixon, Calif., where Altec will be expanding its production capacity for these and other advanced vehicles. That’s 150 direct manufacturing jobs in the United States. And when you think about the multiplier for manufacturing jobs, which I think is about five times or six times, you are looking at almost 1,000 new jobs for the local community. That has an impact. Visit www.electrificationcoalition.org.

“There has been no significant change in light-duty vehicles as a percentage of utility fleets,” said Tom Nimmo, a partner with the industry benchmarking firm Utilimarc. “However, we have seen changes within certain light-duty vehicle classes, including an increase in hybrids as a percentage of the fleet. Hybrid data also shows improved mpg and improved operating costs.”

Speaking at the 2012 Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference (www.eufmc.com), Nimmo covered trends, using 2009, 2010 and 2011 data, at a select group of 41 utilities that field approximately 90,000 utility-specific vehicles. In 2012, the entire Utilimarc database, comprised of state, county, city, utility and private fleets, will track more than 300,000 vehicles. Visit www.utilimarc.com.

Earlier this year, the Raleigh (N.C.) Police Department installed mobile power idle reduction systems in 29 police vehicles. The project was funded by an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. Since being installed, the systems have saved Raleigh more than 3,000 gallons of fuel, cut emissions of 59,326 pounds of CO2 and reduced engine use by 107,032 miles. The police department now projects an annual fuel savings from the systems of $63,000.

The Energy Xtreme mobile power idle reduction system is a smart power management device that provides power, without engine engagement, to vehicles with demanding electrical needs. In Raleigh, the system allows police cruiser electrical systems, including lights, onboard cameras, computers and radios, to operate without having to idle the vehicle’s engine for at least four continuous hours. The system automatically recharges while the vehicle is being driven. Visit www.energyxtreme.net.


Eaton Supports California Hybrid Incentives
The California Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP) is getting a boost from Eaton Corporation (www.eaton.com/roadranger). Designed to assist California-based fleets with the purchase of low-emission, fuel-efficient medium- and heavy-duty hybrid vehicles, HVIP aims to help speed the introduction of hybrid trucks with financial incentives ranging from $10,000 to $45,000 for eligible vehicles.

“The Hybrid Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project offsets about half of the incremental cost of eligible hybrid vehicles,” said Gerard Devito, engineering director, Eaton hybrid power systems. “The program strongly benefits the public and commercial truck industry by helping interested fleets save money while delivering more sustainable transportation. We applaud the state of California for its pioneering work and many investments to promote and support the use of hybrid vehicles and other clean technology vehicles.”

About 87 truck and bus chassis configurations from a variety of vehicle manufacturers that are equipped with Eaton hybrid systems are eligible for the incentives. Under HVIP, incentives are preset for each qualified vehicle. Eaton hybrid power systems have collectively accumulated more than 300 million miles of service. More than 6,000 of Eaton’s hybrid systems are in use today on trucks and buses. Visit www.californiahvip.com.

A Commitment to Action as part of the Clinton Global Initiative America designed to spur adoption of hybrid electric technology in fleets has been announced by ALTe Powertrain Technologies. The developer of a range-extended plug-in electric hybrid powertrain for light commercial fleet vehicles has pledged to develop a first-of-its-kind electric vehicle fleet purchasing system, under which fleet customers can consolidate the entire electric vehicle decision-making process in one web-based interface.

The new website, www.electrifyyourfleet.com, will connect corporate and government vehicle purchasers with electric vehicle stakeholders, including utilities, charging station providers and finance companies, and notify customers of available incentives while offering the benefits of group-rate purchases and simplifying the order-to-delivery process.

“Our commitment to the CGI community is to help solve the greatest roadblocks to commercial adoption of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles: eliminating the lack of affordability and simplifying the EV and charging station order fulfillment process,” said ALTe chief executive John Thomas. “We intend to take a crowdsourcing approach to generate a new industry buying platform that helps fleets better transition to a cleaner operation, offer financial benefits to customers and grow new jobs for the future of America.”

As an electric powertrain systems provider, ALTe will offer certified full-sized pickups and vans that have been retrofitted with electric or plug-in hybrid powertrains. Designed to replace a V-8 internal combustion engine powertrain, the system’s patented technology improves fuel economy, the company said. Visit www.altept.com.


Tire and Retread Programs

Tires are valuable and costly assets. An effective tire maintenance program can result in reduced tire costs. Some of the best resources for utility fleets are available from suppliers.

Bridgestone Americas
Bridgestone Commercial Solutions Fleet Management Services can personalize a tire program to address specific tire management issues. Fleet analysis and inventory reports, tire and equipment inspection programs, out-of-service tire analysis and nonretreadable tire reports are all included.

Fleet analyzer reports offered by Bridgestone Bandag are available using diagnostic software that provides accurate, customized reports on in-service tire inspections, out-of-service tire analysis, performance tracking and vehicle inspections. Fleet inventory reports give a view of tire inventory across the Bridgestone Bandag network to help improve tire management and reduce costs.

Also available from Bridgestone is an in-service tire inspection that provides a snapshot of the current condition of tires and wheels in a fleet. Tread depth, air pressure, tire conditions and observed issues with wheels are covered in the on-site assessment. The manufacturer also offers courses developed by its Truck Tires Learning Center specifically for fleet technicians, covering proper nail hole repairs and advanced tire analysis. Additional fleet services may be available from local dealers, including mounted wheel service, wheel and rim refinishing, and yard checks. Visit www.bridgestonetrucktires.com.

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Goodyear fleetHQ provides custom service, product solutions, detailed reporting and tire evaluation tools. It consolidates information from road service histories that can be accessed online. Tools available to help evaluate tire costs and optimize tire programs include TVTrack for tracking performance of specific tires linked to vehicle parameters. Tire Value Calc uses actual fleet performance data, as well as tire and retread price records, to find out how tire, retread and rotation changes can impact operating costs.

The fleetHQ Solution Center provides emergency roadside service with a roll time goal of two hours or less. The center offers access to more than 2,000 service locations nationwide. Visit www.goodyeartrucktires.com.

Michelin Americas Truck Tires
The Michelin Advantage Program includes competitive pricing on Michelin truck tires, retreads and services. Also offered is Michelin ONCall emergency road service.

Business tools included in the Michelin Advantage Program are available on a member website where fleets can check pricing, order tires, manage accounts and view invoices. Training, technical documents, maintenance techniques and webcasts to help improve tire performance are also available. Visit www.michelintruck.com.

Hidden Treasure
A tire scrap pile can be a gold mine of information. Going through a scrap pile and looking at tires can help find ways to adjust tire choices or maintenance practices.

All truck tire manufacturers agree that effectively analyzing scrap tires can lead to improvements in tire life and lower costs. They also universally point to the “Radial Tire Conditions Analysis Guide” published by the Technology & Maintenance Council as one of the best resources for fleets.

The TMC guide is reviewed and updated by manufacturers every three years. Included are technical details about various tire failure conditions and their causes, along with photos of commonly seen wear and failure conditions and recommended steps to resolve issues.

TMC also offers the “Radial Tire & Disc Wheel Service Manual,” which is a compendium of recommended practices associated with tires and wheel ends. It addresses critical service procedures for radial tires and disc wheels used on medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. Visit www.trucking.org.

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