Tag: Industry News


Past & Present

Held annually since 1953, the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference (EUFMC) remains true to tradition while staying at the forefront when it comes to providing highly valuable and relevant information.

“EUFMC brings together a large cross-section of utilities from around the country, large and small, for one common cause – to gain knowledge from the presented programs, from each other, to view products and to interact with the utilities’ supplier base,” said Ron Anderson, manager, fleet and equipment at NorthWestern Energy. “In no other place do you find such in-depth knowledge for fleet managers.”

That is by design, notes George Survant, director of fleet services at Florida Power & Light and current EUFMC president. “EUFMC is unique in that it’s built on the guidance of professionals from within the industry it serves,” he said. “The result is an event featuring technical and management presentations that helps fleet managers make a difference in their organizations.”

EUFMC continues to attract record numbers of fleet executives from investor-owned electric utilities, electric cooperatives and electrical contractors from across the U.S. and Canada, as well as representatives of equipment and service suppliers. The annual exhibition of the latest utility equipment and services during the conference features more than 75 displays where fleet managers can meet with 250+ representatives from more than 95 manufacturers and service providers.

Close Cooperation
Since its inception, EUFMC has promoted close cooperation between fleet representatives and manufacturers.

“The Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference is an annual opportunity for the leaders in our company to share product ideas and technical information with leaders in the electrical utility fleet industry,” said James Christian, director of engineering at Time Manufacturing Company. “The multifaceted environment of the conference allows our company to show products in a unique drive-through format, participate in technical sessions and have one-on-one interaction with our customers. This is not just a ‘salesman’ show as engineers, like myself, are encouraged to attend and participate in the technical programs and roundtable discussions.”

Each year, EUFMC’s officers and board of directors put together a comprehensive program of technical presentations that includes fleet managers, suppliers and industry experts who address the topics that are most relevant to attending fleets. The 2012 program, “Essential Tools for Utility Fleet Professionals,” features presentations on the following topics:

Industry Trends – Light Duty Vehicles
Jim Michon, Ford
Tom Nimmo, Utilimarc
Craig Neuber, ARI

Life Cycle Costs – Models that Work
Chris Shaffer, Utilimarc
Steve Granger, KCP&L
Mike Radziewicz, ComEd
Cliff Edwards, Pike Electric

Best Practices in Preventive Maintenance
Jack Abraham, Nova Scotia Power

Diesel Engines – Current and Future
Dave Bryant, Freightliner
Tim Shick, Navistar

GPS/AVL – Looking for ROI
Alan Riddle, SCE
Craig Stepien, FP&L
Tim Mooney, PHH
Tim Taylor, Telogis

Regulatory/Legislative Update
Bill Van Amburg, CALSTART
Pat O’Connor, Kent & O’Connor
Josh Chard, Altec Industries

Battling the Scales – Bridge Law Compliance
Mike Allison, Duke Energy
Bill Hall, Minnesota Power
Joe Caywood, Terex

PM Practices & Technician Training Survey Results
EUFMC attendees have indicated a high level of interest in the practices that utilities are following in regard to preventive maintenance (PM), testing of aerial equipment and training of fleet technicians. Topics on the survey include PM and dielectric and acoustic emissions testing practices, management information system and data use, warranty work and claims processing, and technician training and apprentice programs. During the 2012 conference, results of the EUFMC survey on PM practices and technician training will be presented.

Guest Speakers
Other valuable aspects of EUFMC continue to attract attendees, including guest speakers who share important perspectives. This year’s keynote speaker is Jim Stanley, senior vice president of power delivery for Duke Energy’s U.S. Franchised Electric & Gas business. A 35-year industry veteran, Stanley is responsible for the electric power transmission and distribution in a five-state service area. Duke Energy provides electricity and natural gas to approximately 4 million customers in the Carolinas and the Midwest, and distributes natural gas in Ohio and Kentucky.

Also on the agenda at EUFMC 2012 are two dinner speakers:

Top Gun – Major Dan Rooney, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), will address EUFMC attendees on June 5. A former F-16 pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard, the decorated military aviator served three combat tours in Iraq and was a two-time recipient of the Top Gun award. Rooney is also the founder of the Folds of Honor Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships to the spouses and children of military service members disabled or killed in action.

Industry Leader – Bob Lutz, the driving force behind many vehicle advancements in a nearly 50-year career in the automotive industry, will be the guest speaker at the EUFMC President’s Gala Dinner on June 6. Lutz is currently a member of the board of directors of VIA Motors. Until his retirement in 2010 he served as vice chairman and special adviser, design and global product development at General Motors, where he championed the development of the Chevrolet Volt. Lutz has also held senior leadership positions at Ford, Chrysler and BMW, and was CEO of Exide Technologies.

Best Practices
The sharing of best practices is a hallmark of EUFMC. The conference provides a forum where fleet representatives can exchange information and discuss mutual concerns, including the highly popular fleet and supplier roundtables.

“As a first-year fleet manager, I attended the 2011 Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference and found the networking opportunities hugely beneficial,” said Michael Radziewicz, director of fleet at ComEd. “The best part of EUFMC for my company is the opportunity it provides for me to meet my peers and talk about issues that we are all dealing with and hear how they are addressing them. On a number of occasions since the conference, I’ve called other fleet managers I met to bounce ideas off of them and learn from their experience.”

“The 2011 Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference was my first and I was very impressed with the depth of technical information that was presented, the value that can be found in the experience of the attendees and the relationships that can be built with other fleet managers,” stated Keith Dunkel, team leader at Indianapolis Power & Light Company, Facilities & Transportation Fleet. “At EUFMC I met people who are dealing with the same challenges that we have and who are willing to share their solutions to common fleet management issues, during and after the conference. The sponsors do a wonderful job of supporting the event and its great sense of tradition. I have not been to any other conference with the quality of EUFMC.”

The 60th Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference will be held June 2-5, 2013, at the Williamsburg Lodge and Conference Center in Williamsburg, Va. For more information, visit www.eufmc.com.



The Work Truck Show

North America’s largest gathering of vocational trucks and transportation equipment, The Work Truck Show 2012 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis features more than 550 exhibitors showcasing Classes 1-8 trucks, chassis, bodies, components and accessories.

Thousands of work truck professionals, including fleet managers, equipment buyers, maintenance personnel, manufacturers, distributors and dealers attend the annual Work Truck Show to interact with peers, meet with suppliers, get answers to technical questions and visit exhibits. Industry suppliers also use the event to introduce new product innovations.

Former President George W. Bush will be the keynote speaker at The Work Truck Show 2012. President Bush will speak at the President’s Breakfast and NTEA Annual Meeting, offering insights into the challenges facing our nation in the 21st century and other timely issues.

NTEA Convention
The Work Truck Show 2012 is held in conjunction with the 48th NTEA Annual Convention. Established in 1964, NTEA, the Association for the Work Truck Industry, represents nearly 1,600 companies that manufacture, distribute, install, sell and repair commercial trucks, truck bodies, truck equipment, trailers and accessories. Buyers of work trucks and the major commercial truck chassis manufacturers also belong to the association.

The NTEA Convention serves as the educational component of The Work Truck Show, featuring more than 60 educational sessions for owners, managers and employees from truck equipment suppliers, upfitters, fleet managers and truck purchasers. Session topics on the agenda include:

• State of the Industry Overview – The NTEA Perspective
• Changing of the Guard: Millennials and Generational Differences in the Workplace
• Demystifying Weight Distribution and Payload Calculations for Work Trucks
• Government Regulatory Implications for the Work Truck Industry
• Learning to Avoid Costly Truck Frame Modification Errors
• What is the Future Economic Landscape for the Work Truck Industry?
• Optimizing Work Truck Body and Equipment Specifications
• Why Should I Care About Vehicle Certification?
• Build Your People Strategy First
• Ensuring Your Next Truck Chassis Matches the Job Requirements
• The Future of Fleet Operations
• The Ins and Outs of Lean for the Truck Equipment Industry
• Making Vehicle Investment Decisions Using Life-Cycle Cost Analysis
• Old Rules/New Tools: Staying People-Focused Using Today’s Technology
• Spec’ing Your Next Truck Powertrain for Optimum Efficiency & Performance
• The Next Generation of Work Truck Telematics

Chassis updates are on the NTEA agenda. Participating truck manufacturers include:
• Chevrolet & GMC Commercial Trucks
• Ford Commercial Trucks
• Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation
• Freightliner Trucks
• Hino Trucks
• International Truck
• Isuzu Commercial Truck of America
• Kenworth Truck Company
• Mack Trucks
• Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America
• Nissan North America
• Peterbilt Motors Company
• Ram Trucks
• Western Star Trucks

Green Truck Summit
Jointly produced by NTEA and CALSTART, the Green Truck Summit is also held in conjunction with The Work Truck Show. Technical experts, government officials, industry leaders and early adopter fleet managers come together at the Green Truck Summit to unveil recent developments in sustainable technologies and new commercial truck applications. Presenters share practical advice on fuel efficiency, firsthand information on building green fleet programs, and critical advances in engine and fuel technology.

United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Ph.D., will give the keynote address at the 2012 Green Truck Summit. Dr. Chu is a distinguished scientist and co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Physics. As Secretary of Energy he is charged with helping implement President Obama’s agenda to invest in clean energy, reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, address the global climate crisis and create new jobs.

Educational sessions at the Green Truck Summit include:
• Trends in Work Truck Technologies and Fuels covering upcoming changes that will affect the vocational truck industry, new clean technologies and fuels, and new vehicle efficiency and emissions standards.
• Gaseous Fuels: A Successful Alternative
• Work Truck Electrification: Leveraging the Ultimate Clean Fuel
• Watching the Bottom Line: Technologies for Increasing Fuel Efficiency and Eliminating Fuel Waste

Roadway to Fuel Independence and Air Quality Improvement in North America and Globally will be the subject of an address by Russell Musgrove, managing director of FedEx Express. Musgrove will provide insights based on his global company’s experience using sustainable technologies.

Recently announced regulations (scheduled to take effect in 2016) and details about how companies can prepare to meet them will be the focus of A New Generation of Clean Work Trucks: Understanding the EPA and NHTSA Joint Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Work Trucks by a panel of experts from EPA and NHTSA.

Green Truck Summit sessions showcase new technology and provide information on reducing fuel consumption, improving fleet management, comparing clean technology options, funding clean vehicles and more. Green truck technology is also highlighted in the CALSTART Clean Technologies and Fuels Pavilion. In addition, exhibitors with products that improve fuel utilization, are environmentally friendly, use recycled materials and/or support environmentally sustainable practices are profiled throughout the hall as part of the Green Product Showcase.

Green Truck Ride-and-Drive
A popular highlight of The Work Truck Show is the Green Truck Ride-and-Drive. Featuring 21 commercial vehicles that incorporate advances in hybrid technology and alternative fuel applications, the Ride-and-Drive will include a variety of work trucks, including cargo and service vans, pickup trucks, dump trucks, shuttle buses, walk-in vans, tree-trimming trucks, utility trucks, box trucks, cutaways and more.

This year’s event includes an equally wide range of environmentally friendly drive systems, including CNG, propane, battery-electric, extended range electric, ultra-clean biodiesel, bi-fuel CNG, electric hybrids (series and parallel), and hydraulic hybrids. Some of the vehicles will feature lightweight and aerodynamic technologies. Equipment demonstrations of electric PTOs and similar technologies also will take place.

Cutting-edge technologies and energy-efficient vehicles available for ride and drive attendees are being provided by:
• Altec Industries
• BAE Systems
• Cummins Crosspoint
• Electric Vehicles International
• Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation
• Freightliner Trucks
• Hino Trucks
• IMPCO Automotive
• International Truck
• Isuzu Commercial Truck of America
• Kenworth Truck Company
• Knapheide Manufacturing Company
• Leggett & Platt Commercial Vehicle Products
• Lightning Hybrids
• Motiv Power Systems
• Peterbilt Motors Company
• Propane Education & Research Council (PERC)
• Ram Trucks
• Reading Truck Body
• Roush CleanTech
• Smith Electric Vehicles

Work Truck Show App
Now available for most mobile devices, The Work Truck Show App enables users to access the show floor plan, browse educational sessions, view and schedule appointments, and find exhibitors that are featuring products in the New Product Spotlight and Green Product Showcase programs. Scan the QR code at http://www.ntea.com/worktruckshow/index.aspx?id=25950 or visit www.guidebook.com/getit with a smartphone or device.

Industry Affair
The Work Truck Show 2012 is produced by NTEA and is supported by leading organizations:

• American Public Works Association (www.apwa.net)
• Association of Indiana Counties (www.indianacounties.org)
• CALSTART (www.calstart.org)
• Canadian Transportation Equipment Association (www.ctea.ca)
• Clean Cities – U.S. Dept. of Energy (www1.eere.energy.gov/cleancities)
• Clean Vehicle Education Foundation (www.cleanvehicle.org)
• Green Truck Association (www.greentruckassociation.com)
• Heavy Duty Representatives Association (www.hdra.org)
• Indiana Association of County Commissioners (www.indianacountycommissioners.com)
• Indiana Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (www.iaphcc.com)
• NAFA Fleet Management Association (www.nafa.org)
• National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (www.naftc.wvu.edu)
• NTEA (www.ntea.com)
• Natural Gas Vehicles for America (www.ngvamerica.org)
• Ohio Contractors Association (www.ohiocontractors.org)
• Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association (www.onla.org)
• Propane Education & Research Council (www.propanecouncil.org)
• Rocky Mountain Fleet Management Association (www.rmfma.org)
• Service Specialists Association (www.truckservice.org)
• Snow & Ice Management Association (www.sima.org)


Keeping Up

The hardest part of putting together the Spring 2012 issue of Utility Fleet Professional was not finding enough material to fill the pages. The real challenge was determining what to include from the very large volume of information we had available.

If you’re attending The Work Truck Show, you’ll know exactly what I mean. On display at the annual event are the latest technologies from more than 550 exhibitors. Also featuring a large expo of products was the Hybrid, Electric and Advanced Truck Users Forum (HTUF) annual meeting this past fall.

We made room in this issue for coverage of developments reported to us about electric, propane, compressed natural gas and hybrid vehicles; reports from industry conferences on fleet management practices; and details of the latest shop and vehicle technologies being offered by the industry’s leading suppliers.

There were a couple of things we had to leave out, but only because they are developments that we will be learning much more about in the not-too-distant future and will most certainly cover extensively in upcoming issues.

Bright Automotive, for example, is ramping up for a 2014 launch of its IDEA plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). The all-wheel-drive platform is the result of a 2010 strategic partnership with General Motors, which is providing engines and parts. Bright currently has several prototypes of its PHEV powertrain in the field.

We have also learned about a global effort that is leading toward the eventual introduction of Class 3-5 hybrid trucks by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America (MFTA). At the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, MFTA’s parent company, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation, a part of the Daimler Trucks Division of Daimler AG, unveiled the second-generation model of its light-duty Canter Eco Hybrid, which is reportedly 40 percent lighter than the original 2006 model and has shown 30 percent better fuel economy than diesel-powered models.

Todd Bloom, president and CEO of MFTA, explained that the hybrid technology is in place and the payback on an investment in these vehicles is verifiable. Now, he said, the goal is to address emissions and safety standards so the Canter Eco Hybrid can join MFTA’s line of Canter FE/FG Class 3 through 5 cabovers in the U.S.

We are also planning to follow developments as Toyota and Ford work together to develop hybrid trucks and SUVs that will be ready for market by the end of the decade. The two companies announced the plan in late summer of last year, noting that they will collaborate on product development for the future rear-wheel drive hybrid vehicles and help each other meet stringent U.S. fuel economy standards.

All things considered, there is plenty to read about in this issue and we hope you agree that we made wise choices about what to include. Looking ahead, we’ll be steadfastly following all the industry’s developments and giving you even more valuable information.

Seth Skydel


Progress Report

Successfully implementing new technology into fleet operations is a major challenge for managers. In the past few years, perhaps no greater challenge has been faced than the adoption of 2010 emissions-compliant diesel engines. During the 2011 Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference (www.eufmc.com), two fleets detailed their programs and the performance of these engines in their operations.

Since the most recent diesel engine emissions standards took effect at the beginning of 2010, trucks equipped with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) engines have been fitted with diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tanks. DEF is a necessary component of emissions compliance using SCR technology.

Georgia Power Company
A subsidiary of Southern Company, Georgia Power Company (GPC) is an investor-owned utility serving 2.3 million customers in the state of Georgia. Its fleet includes 4,500 units, half of which are vehicles. Steven Hopkins, manager, fleet technical services, oversees engineering, maintenance, testing, procurement and financial issues for the fleet, and serves as the team leader for Southern Company’s fleet engineering team.

“By 2011,” Hopkins said, “about 10 percent of our total diesel fleet of 1,128 units had 2010 and newer engines. That included 96 Cummins-powered Freightliners and 17 Fords. By 2015 we project that half of the diesel fleet, or about 573 vehicles, will have engines that require DEF.”

Diesel-powered trucks at GPC typically travel 12,000 miles and run on-site for 1,200 hours per year. Average per day idle time for these vehicles is six hours.

To meet its DEF needs, Hopkins reported, GPC awarded a contract to Brenntag North America, the manufacturer and distributor of TerraCair Ultrapure DEF. Brenntag, an OEM supplier for GM, Ford, Chrysler, Freightliner, VW and BMW, offers its product in 2.5-gallon containers, 55-gallon drums and 330-gallon bulk totes.

“For the next couple of years we’re providing DEF in 2.5-gallon containers at our fleet service centers,” Hopkins related. “We will also be installing heated cabinets at fuel islands in higher usage locations to make it more easily available. DEF tanks are usually filled every three or four weeks, or after approximately 1,000 miles and 100 hours of idling.

”As usage increases we plan to upgrade to 55-gallon drums or 330-gallon totes,” Hopkins continued. “Replenish intervals will be a moving target as more emissions-compliant units are added to the fleet and are something our fleet parts department will be monitoring.”

DEF handling concerns at GPC follow Southern Company safety and health rules. Dispensing always takes place in well-ventilated areas. All employees are already required to wear safety glasses in the work environment, which includes the fuel island, and when adding DEF, the use of impervious gloves such as nitrile, Viton or butyl for DEF handling is recommended. Hopkins also pointed out that the 2.5-gallon DEF containers are equipped with a tubular spout that inserts into the filler neck of the DEF tank to minimize the possibility of splashes and spills during the filling process.

“We have not had any maintenance issues with the 2010 engines and no drivability concerns have been reported,” Hopkins said. “The use of DEF has not presented any issues for our vehicle operators, except for adding the product as needed. It’s just another thing to be responsible for monitoring.”

AmeriGas Propane
A supplier of services to more than 1.3 million customers in nearly 50 states, AmeriGas Propane provides home and commercial deliveries of bulk fuel and cylinders. In the company’s fleet operation are more than 7,900 units, including 5,158 vehicles. By the end of 2012 there will be almost 700 AmeriGas units with newer emissions-compliant engines, including 190 vehicles purchased in 2010, 352 added in 2011 and 388 projected in 2012.

AmeriGas is moving ahead to transition its fleet, noted Jay Massey, corporate fleet manager, in part because the rules changed in California. “We needed to replace 32 trucks in California by the first of this year and will need to replace 138 trucks by 2013,” he said. “Our plan is to move 2007 and newer units into California throughout the year, in addition to sending new trucks.

“That needs to happen soon,” Massey added. “As the order cycle continues to get elongated with OEMs and with builders, it’s urgent we place orders as early in April as possible to meet a fall build schedule.”

For its 2010 and newer models, Massey related several upfit issues that had to be addressed. “We needed clear inside and outside frame rails, and had to determine DEF, air and fuel tank, along with air dryer and battery locations,” he said. “We standardized on a vertical exhaust, but some emissions component routing conflicted with air suspension placement, forcing us back into spring ride on some initial units. We also had a PTO access issue to resolve.”

Driver training was also on the fleet’s agenda. Included was helping drivers interpret system alerts and understand how to respond to protect the asset. On the fleet’s 2010 models, the DEF tank was positioned where batteries and air tanks were previously located, and each unit was equipped with a separate DEF fuel gauge.

“We anticipated about 2 percent DEF consumption, or about 1 gallon of DEF for every 50 gallons of fuel,” Massey reported. “Based on the number of units in the fleet, that lets us plan for inventory needs. Initially, we purchased DEF from truck dealers and some retail outlets. Now, virtually all major truck stops and some large fuel providers are carrying DEF. We also have to consider on-site storage based on the number of units at a domicile location consuming DEF and the ability to store it in a climate-controlled environment.”

Massey explained that different vehicles have different size onboard DEF tanks ranging in capacity by OEM and vehicle type. For example, straight chassis units had 6-, 9- or 13-gallon tanks and tractors are equipped with 23 gallons of DEF capacity. All DEF tanks in the fleet are heated plastic models.

“It’s too early to see if one manufacturer or another has a better truck from a maintenance standpoint,” Massey stated. “Routine maintenance on these vehicles has been primarily preventive and, compared to non-DEF units, has been cost and time neutral.”

Potentially offsetting the higher cost of the latest emissions-compliant engines – as much as $6,500 more for trucks and $9,500 more for tractors in 2010 – is the indication of a slightly better half-mile per gallon increase in fuel efficiency and less non-PM maintenance. Analyses have also revealed a cost per mile for 2010 and 2011 models about equal to or less than 2008 and 2009 trucks.

“Performance is still to be determined,” Massey said, “but we have noticed some improvement and we’re getting good indications about throttle response and fewer occurrences of system regenerations based on driver feedback and other reporting.”

DEF and Storage, Dispensing and Testing Technologies
Nontoxic but corrosive to aluminum and carbon steel, DEF must be stored onboard and on-site in tanks made of stainless steel or plastic. In addition, DEF is sensitive to both extreme cold and high ambient temperatures, requiring adequate climate-controlled systems. Available today are the following:

Old World Industries offers BlueDEF for use in on-highway engines in 1- and 2.5-gallon containers, 55-gallon drums, and 275- and 330-gallon totes. The company also provides a variety of dispensing systems and offers the BlueDEF Equipment Program, an installation, service and maintenance network, as well as a DEF Equipment Training Program for service and support technicians. Visit www.bluedef.com for more.

Terra Environmental Technologies (TET) produces DEF that is sold under the TerraCair brand name, including the newly introduced TerraCair Ultrapure DEF, in 1- and 2.5-gallon jugs, 55-gallon drums, 330-gallon totes, 5,000-gallon tankers and 20,000-gallon railcars. TET also offers dispensing equipment installation and training services to DEF users, including fleets with in-house systems. Visit www.tet-terra.com for more.

Colder Products Company is offering its DrumQuik PRO closed-dispensing solution for extracting DEF from drums, small containers and totes. The system is in use by DEF suppliers, including Airgas Specialty Products and Balcrank Corporation, who offer it as a stand-alone component or as part of a package in both fixed and portable pumping systems. Visit www.colder.com/Specialties/DrumQuik/DrumQuikHome.aspx for more.

Gilbarco Veeder-Root offers its Encore S DEF and Encore S DEF + 1 along with the new Atlas DEF dispenser. The products are fully compatible with the company’s Gasboy dispensers and other existing fuel management systems. The DEF dispensers are installed in a thermostat-controlled, heated cabinet that prevents DEF from freezing or crystallizing. Visit www.gilbarco.com for more.

Powerblanket wraparound DEF heaters are available for totes, pumps and dispensing units. Utilizing the company’s GreenHeat Technology, the heated enclosures can be used on metal and plastic containers. Standard models are available for 275- and 330-gallon tote sizes, and custom sizes are offered. The heaters can provide several hours of protection in the event of a power failure. Visit www.powerblanket.com for more.

Reichert Technologies DEF-Chek testers for measuring the correct concentration of DEF can be used to perform quality control checks on bulk supplies and vehicles. The tester accurately measures DEF for the right urea content, providing a digital measurement in seconds. The Reichert Digital DEF-Chek tester is powered by two AAA batteries. Visit www.reichertai.com/automotive.html for more.


Upper Midwest Utility Fleet Conference

I drove several hours from Chicago to Red Wing, MN because I had heard of a grassroots organization called the Upper Midwest Utility Fleet Managers Council (UMUFC) was having their annual Fall meeting and wanted to check it out.

The nucleus of the group is out of the Minneapolis area. But I met a utility fleet manager that came from as far as Springfield, MO. Many of the Midwest Co-op Utilities find this the most time efficient way to hear what new products vendors are offering and share ideas on problem solving from maintenance to complying with federal and state regulations.


Pictured L – R: UMUFC Officers Bernie Kolnberger – Chairperson, Curt Erickson – Program Coordinator, Steve Kallsen – Hospitality Coordinator, Doug Shoemaker – Membership Coordinator/Historian, Mike Donahue – Secretary/Treasurer, missing from picture Matt Gilliland – Vice Chairperson.

UMUFC meets on a bi-yearly basis to share information. There were about 50 utility fleet managers in attendance in a large ballroom. The managers come from some of the largest utilities in the upper Midwest as well as smaller cooperatives and district wide utilities to share information and learn from each other. In between vendor presentations there were “break out discussions” where a utility fleet manager would bring up a topic or challenge they were facing and the group would share information. For example: The group discussed how the current CSA 2010 regulations are impacting their day to day operations. They shared information on how each utility is dealing with complying with the regulations. It through this problem / resolution sharing format where the group bases its tag line “Promoting Better Fleet Management Through Mutual Exchange”.

Rather than smaller rural utilities or co-ops feeling like they might be on an island these meetings serve as a real opportunity to share solutions. One of the biggest questions the group had for me was, “are there any other regional organizations out there that are like us?” I had recalled meeting a Pacific Northwest utility fleet manager that had organized a similar group in the Seattle-Portland area but other than that was not aware of similar regional groups.

Certainly Utility Fleet Professional being the only publication 100% dedicated to the utility fleet market would encourage and support these regional grassroots meetings. I worked several years with a lumber association and saw first hand how these regional meetings could provide excellent education and networking opportunities. If you would like UFP to help organize and promote a regional utility fleet managers meeting? Please contact us.


(Photos of UMUFC provided by Kurt Moreland attached)


Resale Value


An important part of any fleet manager’s responsibility is the remarketing of used vehicles. For a growing number of fleets, the highest used values are being realized by turning to auction companies that specialize in the disposal of used utility vehicles and equipment.

In a recent roundtable discussion with Utility Fleet Professional Editor Seth Skydel, representatives of three leading auction companies discussed the trends that are impacting their remarketing choices and success, and the reasons that utility fleet managers should consider auctions as they manage their fleets’ remarketing efforts.

Roundtable Panel
Richard Aldersley, Divisional Manager, U.S. Southwest, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers (www.rbauction.com)
Armando L. Camarena, President/Owner, US Auctions (www.usauctions.net)
Jake Josko, Vice President, PPL Group LLC (www.pplgroupllc.com)

Please detail industry trends that are impacting used vehicle values and either limiting or enhancing remarketing success.

Camarena: The biggest factor affecting the utility industry in California is the California Air Resources Board (CARB) initiative on emission control standards. This regulatory activity has forced utilities to sell off older units much sooner than anticipated. That’s having a financial impact because fleets would have normally kept these vehicles on the books for 10 years and now they have to replace them several years before they are fully amortized. At the same time, the CARB environmental protection initiatives have been met head-on by utilities, which have taken steps forward in their use of alternative fuel vehicles. In some cases utility companies in California are moving faster than the agency.

Aldersley: CARB emissions standards have dramatically devalued used equipment in the California market. Basically, they have restricted lower tiered-level vehicles from being sold. While these stringent regulations devalue equipment locally, the majority of noncompliant CARB utility fleet vehicles in the California market will leave the state and a good number will also go out of the country. Newer or late model utility fleet vehicles meeting CARB emission standards are more likely to stay in the local market.

Josko: Government regulations can play a large part in secondary remarketability. In the last four years we have seen some great auction prices on used fleet vehicles, as buyers don’t want to incur the EPA tax expense associated with new vehicles. In some instances, we’ve sold 2-year-old vehicles for more than they cost when they were new.

What other issues are impacting utility fleet remarketing efforts?

Aldersley: Smaller utility companies and government agencies are experiencing budgets cut as a result of the economic downturn and are under severe constraints about how much money they can spend on vehicles. As a result, they are looking more closely at the used equipment market as an alternative. These days, more utility companies and government agencies are coming to auctions because they see them as a legitimate place to source the equipment they need.

Josko: The vehicle’s application and configuration play a role. Things like four-wheel drive and air conditioning can have a large effect on remarketing to specific geographical regions. We are also seeing a lot more fleets going toward quad cabs these days as they want to get more employees to job sites with fewer depreciating assets on the books.

Camarena: We’ve seen a downward trend in resale prices since 2005. However, demand for late model Tier 2 trucks has increased prices since the beginning of 2011, and the resale market for utility trucks has improved along with the sale of older alternative fuel vehicles.

When selecting an auction services provider, what should fleets consider about the company’s expertise in specialized vehicles used by utilities?

Josko: I always recommend to prospective clients that they come to a sale, walk around, talk to buyers and sellers to get their opinion of the event, observe the operation for themselves and even call past clients for their experiences. Most importantly, ask the auction company to take the risk out of the market. If the auction company says the equipment has a specific range of value, it should be willing to make a reasonable cash offer or guarantee to earn the business. The auction company needs to be big enough to serve its clients’ needs, but small enough to want to still earn their business.

Camarena: The first consideration to review is how long the auction company has been in business, who is operating the company and whether they have experience with utility fleet vehicles. To effectively auction utility line equipment, you must have personnel who have the experience to sell boom trucks, backhoes, digger derricks, etc. Do your homework before you choose an auction company. Meet the owners and staff, visit the auction site and attend a live auction. We also recommend starting with no more than 10 pieces of mixed equipment to be sure you’ve made the right choice.

Aldersley: Fleets should consider what audience the auction company is targeting. They should also look at the method by which an auction company sells utility vehicles and make sure that prospective buyers are able to inspect the equipment they’re interested in buying. That includes allowing customers to come to the auction yard before and on auction day to inspect, test and compare equipment. We even encourage them to bring along a mechanic.

What benefits do auction companies bring to utility fleets compared to other used vehicle remarketing options?

Camarena: Auction companies are using a variety of remarketing strategies on behalf of utility companies. For example, we’re not just conducting traditional land-based auctions. We also have online capabilities where we can offer equipment across the U.S. This can require sellers to complete accurate condition reports and take pictures and to coordinate with the buyer to deliver the equipment. On our part we have to qualify bidders and ensure they can pay for the vehicles. Overall, buyers are now more comfortable using online sources.

Josko: A live auction, unlike online or retail sales of utility fleet vehicles, is naturally more competitive. An auction will always beat out other methods because it captures the human emotion of competition and the price always goes up, rather than a negotiated sale where the price almost always goes down.

Aldersley: Auction companies provide fleets with easy and convenient bidding options on-site or online. Auction companies can also connect utility fleets to a large and diverse number of buyers worldwide. Where else can you go where you have 2,000 units for sale and know that every item will be sold by the end of the day? For utility fleets there is not a better resource.


Continuous Improvement


Louisville Gas and Electric Company (LG&E) and Kentucky Utilities Company (KU) are well known in the industry for creative approaches to continuous improvement and outstanding performance in many respects – including the operation and maintenance of their vehicle and equipment fleet. The companies’ fleet is recognized as one of the most reliable and efficient in the industry. It consistently ranks in the top quartile in overall cost management, cost per mile, fuel costs and other components when benchmarked against other utilities. But that’s not good enough. Keeping with LG&E and KU’s style of being the best they can be, the companies continue to search for safety enhancements and operating efficiencies that will benefit their operators and customers.

The LG&E and KU fleet consists of about 1,600 units, including light- and heavy-duty vehicles, trailers, heavy-duty and power equipment, and a small number of hybrids. The fleet is managed by the Transportation Department in Energy Delivery (E.D.), the business unit that distributes natural gas and electricity and provides services to the company’s 1.2 million customers. The bulk of the fleet is utilized by E.D. employees who drive about 13 million miles per year across the Kentucky and Virginia service territory.

Ongoing Evaluation
“The key components of our business model are safety and service restoration,” says Bill Doggett, manager, transportation. “We want to ensure our equipment and employees can respond safely and quickly to customers’ needs, while operating cost-effectively, within all government regulations and in an environmentally friendly manner. That requires continuous re-evaluation of our needs and standards as well as manufacturers – all of which constantly change.”

Like many utilities, LG&E and KU’s diverse service territory challenges the companies’ ability to ensure DOT compliance, efficiently manage its fleet and balance customer service needs. It includes complex metro areas, rural backwoods, and the hollows and hilltops of the Appalachian Mountains, which make matching vehicle type and payloads with work needs daunting.

In the LG&E and KU service territory’s urban areas, patchworks of old and new infrastructures consist of different standards and equipment types. In rural and mountainous areas, terrain is a factor, so size and maneuverability become critical considerations when operating along tight mountain and country roads. Determining which parts and equipment to carry and how to optimize payload is also critical. Vehicles with lower weight allowances can impact service restoration timing because the number of tools, parts and other items they carry is restricted. Traveling many miles back to a service center for additional items isn’t an option in remote areas when working against service restoration deadlines.

Strategic Approach
To address these and other issues, last year LG&E and KU launched an aggressive, user-based fleet management strategic planning process that is streamlining its fleet and netting other benefits – particularly pertaining to employee awareness and safety.

The process began with teams, representing the transportation, safety and operations areas that developed and implemented fleet standards and controls for the heavy- and light-duty fleets. They ensured the companies’ “No Compromise” safety approach was incorporated into every initiative, optimized operational efficiency and assured regulatory compliance. The teams enlisted the recommendations of an outside contractor and, more importantly, the employees who use the vehicles and equipment. They included managers and frontline employees who formed additional heavy- and light-duty vehicle user teams, which inspected their vehicles, double-checked DOT compliance against standards, and reported questions and concerns.

“We gained a great deal of valuable information by including the individuals who actually drive the vehicles and use the equipment,” Doggett states. “They asked questions pertaining to situations that were job-specific and that aren’t in the manual, such as how to handle weight limits on roads and bridges in certain rural areas. It was a learning experience for us as well as them. The teams, as a combined working unit, had to develop solutions.”

Increased awareness among the workforce about DOT compliance was one of the greatest benefits of the process. The companies are recognized in the industry, nation and globally as safety leaders.

“This enabled us to close the circle of safety on yet another aspect of our operations,” says Ken Sheridan, manager, public and operational safety. “Our employees reaffirmed the company’s compliance with Department of Transportation regulations, which are specifically designed to ensure their safety as well as the public’s. Most importantly, they became better educated about how to manage compliance responsibilities and other safety requirements associated specifically with their vehicles or equipment. This is a huge perk for our companies.”

Business partners who support LG&E and KU’s purchasing, maintenance and repair work were also involved in and trained on the process. This is the same approach the company takes with safety initiatives, because the more people who are knowledgeable, the more who can support the achievement of goals. Business partners also must be in step with the changing needs of the business and, consequently, the final strategy’s content was critical to ensure they continued to support operating efficiency and safety.

“We believe in a top-led, employee-driven approach to safety,” says Sheridan. “Any time we give employees or our business partners responsibility for any aspect of operations or safety, they take charge. That’s why we have an outstanding safety culture.”

Improving Awareness
In addition to employee involvement, other measures helped to reinforce DOT compliance and safety awareness among the workforce at LG&E and KU. The companies tagged vehicles and trailers with decals listing the gross vehicle weight rating, gross combined weight rating and maximum allowable payload so drivers can accurately control payload and trailer towing capacity. They also purchased heavy-duty weight scales to:
• Validate the weight of newly ordered vehicles;
• Perform random weight audits as part of scheduled routine maintenance; and
• Perform weight checks following functional or driver changes.

Environmental concerns also play an important role in setting fleet standards, particularly at LG&E and KU, which are also recognized for environmental leadership. While the companies’ total fleet mileage has risen since 2007, carbon dioxide emissions have actually been reduced during that same time span. The challenge will be to sustain that success. As part of the fleet strategy, demands for larger construction equipment will have to be offset in other areas, especially the light-duty fleet. Including more hybrids in the fleet and other tactical initiatives, such as evaluating vehicle assignments, the take-home policy and the percentage of four-wheel drive vehicles, will all contribute to the success of this endeavor.

Never Ending
At LG&E and KU, the fleet strategic planning and evaluation process is never-ending. The companies continue to benchmark all aspects of their operations. Transportation policies are updated continually to reflect changes necessary for efficiencies and cost-effective measures. Additionally, other initiatives are underway to:
• Simplify and reduce the number of company vehicle standards by harmonizing business models, payload and equipment needs;
• Improve maintenance parameters, including extending preventive maintenance schedules and oil change cycles, enhancing tire management through the use of retreads and utilizing more advanced preventive maintenance technology;
• Reduce light-duty vehicle usage costs by right-sizing vehicles for the assignment and needs;
• Establish heavy-duty equipment/vehicle decision matrices for making cost-effective decisions about what unit is best suited for an operation and to support decision-making by managers when placing new orders; and
• Harmonize equipment pricing incentives with LG&E and KU’s parent company, PPL Corporation, based in Allentown, Pa. Both companies utilize Ford light-duty vehicles and Altec bucket trucks, creating a potential opportunity for lower costs at both companies.

Through a continuous and wide-ranging effort, LG&E and KU are finding new programs and practices that improve fleet performance.

Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company, part of the PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL) family of companies, are regulated utilities that serve a total of 1.2 million customers. LG&E serves 321,000 natural gas and 397,000 electric customers in Louisville and 16 surrounding counties. Kentucky Utilities serves 546,000 customers in 77 Kentucky counties and five counties in Virginia. More information is available at www.lge-ku.com and www.pplweb.com.



Finding Solutions


Born out of necessity, the International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE), also known as The Demo Expo, traces its roots to an Illinois farm in the summer of 1966. To help solve an equipment evaluation and communications problem, Illinois Bell invited 12 trencher manufacturers to demonstrate equipment in the same field, on the same day.

The field demonstration event was such a success that it was repeated in 1969 and 1972 as a three-day utility equipment show. By the late 1970s, what would become a biennial event now held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville had grown considerably. Today ICUEE is owned and produced by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

During the 2011 event, which takes place October 4-6, ICUEE will host more than 950 exhibitors and 20,0000+ attendees from electric, phone/cable, sewer/water, gas, construction, landscaping and public works industries. ICUEE now covers more than 1 million square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibit space. On display is equipment including all-terrain carriers, attachments, components, earthmoving, environmental, light, overhead and maintenance, material-handling, recycling, safety, testing, transportation, trenching, trenchless, trucks and utility materials/supplies.

A hallmark of ICUEE is the hands-on demonstrations of construction and utility equipment. Exhibited in job-like conditions, attendees can experience equipment working at ground level, underground and overhead. On the ICUEE Ride & Drive track, attendees can test drive commercial vehicles to examine trucks, engines, transmissions, brakes, safety and collision warning systems, fuel and GPS management systems, and hybrid and alternative fuel systems.

New for ICUEE 2011 are crane and rigging safety demonstrations from the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators and International Powered Access Federation. ICUEE will again feature a general show safety demo area with a focus on topics such as live-line safety and pole-top/fall protection.

ICUEE also features an extensive education program where experts on the latest safety, regulatory, operational and technological issues affecting the utility and construction industry are on hand. In 2011, new workshop and certification programs complement more than 100 learning opportunities covering underground, aboveground and overhead applications, new technologies and the latest industry, regulatory and management trends.

New keynote sessions at ICUEE 2011 will focus on energy and safety. In “Energy Policy – Outlook for the Industry,” Vic Staffieri, chairman and CEO of Louisville Gas and Electric and KU Energy, will discuss how the industry may be affected by potential energy legislation and regulatory action, and will cover renewable energy and development of clean technologies.

In “Hooked on Safety – Leading Safety Initiatives,” motivational speaker Billy Robbins will discuss how companies can implement behavioral-based safety initiatives that will change the way all employees think about safety and create a fresh commitment to safety within a company.

The 2011 ICUEE education program includes new co-located programming from the Association of Equipment Management Professionals, Underground Construction Technology, International Erosion Control Association, National Association of Trailer Manufacturers, SAE International and Scaffolding Industry Association.

ICUEE attendees will have access to the iP Safety Conference & Expo. Sponsored by Incident Prevention magazine, the event is the utility industry’s leading educational opportunity for safety, training and operations professionals.

The National Rural Water Association’s H2O-XPO is also co-located at ICUEE. H2O-XPO brings together top officials, decision-makers, buyers and new technology in the water and wastewater industries.

From its inception until today, ICUEE remains at the forefront with its equipment demonstrations that allow attendees to make highly effective competitive comparisons. Now, the annual event’s extensive education program complements the displays of the industry’s latest equipment technology and product innovations.

For more information, visit www.icuee.com.


AT&T Takes Delivery of CNG Vans

AT&T is putting 101 Chevrolet Express Cargo 2500 vans powered by low-emissions compressed natural gas (CNG) into its customer service fleet. The purchase is consistent with AT&T’s alternative fuel strategy to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and to support sustainable transportation. Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana CNG vans meet all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) emission certification requirements.

CNG-powered vans can produce 25 percent less emissions than similar gasoline- and diesel-powered vans, according to GM, which notes that the vans get gasoline-equivalent fuel economy of 11 mpg city and 16 mpg highway. Fuel tank capacity on the models ranges from 15.8 to 23 gasoline-equivalent gallons.

Testing Confirms Fuel Savings

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC has announced results of ongoing tests confirming its air management system reduces fuel consumption by more than 4 percent in medium-duty commercial vehicles. The closed-track vehicle testing included the Bendix PBS Air Injection Booster, Bendix Turbo-Clutch Air Compressor and Bendix Electronic Air Control Dryer.

“By combining these optimized air management products, vehicle and engine manufacturers have proven solutions that can be used in current and future vehicles to provide fleets and owner-operators greater fuel savings,” said Steve Mance, Bendix vice president and general manager for the charging business group. “This will become even more important with future implementation of the EPA and NHTSA proposed rule to further reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gases beginning in 2014.”

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