Sean M. Lyden

Ancient Wisdom for Today’s Fleet Leaders

There’s a fable by the ancient Greek storyteller, Aesop, about the Sun and the Wind that offers a powerful lesson for today’s fleet leaders. It goes something like this.

As the Sun and the Wind were debating over who was the stronger force, the Sun noticed a traveler walking along the road below them, which gave him an idea for how to settle the matter once and for all.

He pointed to the traveler and offered this proposal to the Wind: “Whichever one of us can get that man to take off his jacket will be considered the stronger force.”

The Wind agreed and went first. But as he put his power on full display, something very interesting happened. While the Wind’s strength grew, so did the traveler’s resistance. Instead of getting him to take off his jacket, the Wind’s force caused the man to cling to his jacket even tighter, refusing to let it go, until eventually the Wind gave up.

Then it was the Sun’s turn. He emerged from behind the clouds and quietly focused his heat onto the man. At first, nothing appeared to be happening. But then a drop of sweat trickled down the man’s forehead. And then another and another, until the traveler was sweating profusely. A few seconds later, he willingly took off his coat.

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Sean M. Lyden

3 Takeaways to Expect from Utility Fleet Conference 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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Sean M. Lyden

The Future of Utility Fleets is Here … Are You Ready?

As a utility fleet professional, you have to wear numerous hats – engineer, purchasing agent, manager, IT person, recruiter, counselor, accountant, salesperson – and are constantly bombarded with “fires” to put out, leaving you with little time to think about your future.

But as you read about and see the rapid change going on in the industry, you’re realizing that you need the time to start thinking about how to adapt. Emerging technologies like self-driving systems, the internet of things, connected vehicles, artificial intelligence and drones are already here and just beginning to make an impact on how fleets – and fleet professionals – do business, setting the stage for major industry disruption in the next three to five years.

And as more and more older fleet workers and technicians get ready for retirement, there’s a looming shortage of younger workers who are willing and qualified to fill the gap, raising the stakes for utility fleets as they compete for technical talent and expertise.

So, what if there was a three-day boot camp during which you could set aside everything else and focus your energy and attention on learning and thinking about the strategies, tactics and leadership tools that can help you successfully navigate the challenges ahead?

Now there is, and its name is Utility Fleet Conference 2017.

UFC 2017 is an intensive three-day fleet education event from October 2-4, 2017, produced by Utility Fleet Professional magazine (www.utilityfleetprofessional.com) and co-located at the International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition (www.icuee.com) in Louisville, Ky.

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Sean M. Lyden

Self-Driving Systems Present Opportunities and Challenges for Fleets Today, Not Just in the Future

In early February, I moderated a panel of OEM reps from Ford Motor Co. and Daimler Trucks North America on the topic of “Connectivity, Autonomy and the Future of Mobility in Fleet” at the Washington, D.C. Auto Show. As I reflected on our discussion, this was my biggest takeaway: The emergence of self-driving systems is not just a trend to watch in the next five to 10 years; there’s a lot going on right now that utility fleets should be thinking about.

For example, the new 2018 Ford F-150 pickup, expected to go on sale this fall, will feature an available Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Warning system and an advanced adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality that uses radars and cameras to maintain a set distance behind a vehicle – and even follow that vehicle down to a complete stop.

Then there’s the new 2018 Freightliner Class 8 Cascadia, set to release this summer, which offers a full suite of semiautonomous technologies, including adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation with automatic braking. But perhaps the most interesting system is the fourth-generation Intelligent Powertrain Management that’s available on models equipped with Detroit Diesel powertrains. It operates like a predictive cruise control system, using GPS connectivity that enables the truck to anticipate upcoming road terrain and automatically adjust transmission shifting, engine acceleration and braking in a way that maximizes fuel economy as the vehicle approaches each hill, climbs it and coasts on the other side.

The bottom line is that, on some level, autonomous vehicles are already here – from cars and light-duty pickups all the way up to Class 8 tractors. But I’m curious: How are these developments impacting your fleet operations today?

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Sean M. Lyden

Save the Date for Utility Fleet Conference 2017

As 2016 comes to a close, you’re likely evaluating possible fleet education programs for 2017 that can help you become more valuable in the industry – and indispensable to your employer. If that’s the case for you, then consider saving these dates on your calendar: October 2-4, 2017.

Why?

That’s when the second Utility Fleet Conference (UFC) will be held. Produced by our team at Utility Fleet Professional magazine, UFC 2017 is an intensive three-day fleet education event that will be co-located with the popular International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky.

Our objective is clear: to build UFC 2017 into a fleet education and networking event that you can’t experience anywhere else. We’re creating about a dozen 90-minute sessions that drill deep into the trends, best practices and success strategies specific to the unique challenges you face in utility fleet environments. You’ll learn not only from industry insiders and experts but also from your peers who understand – and have overcome – many of the in-the-trenches challenges you face on a day-to-day basis in your organization.

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Sean M. Lyden

Finding the Opportunity in Every Obstacle

A top mechanic suddenly quits when your shop is already overwhelmed with a huge backlog. Or, your upfitter falls several weeks behind schedule, delaying delivery of trucks that your customers needed yesterday.

As a fleet manager, you’re confronted with numerous obstacles that knock you off kilter, causing you to feel overwhelmed and unsure about how to best proceed. But what if you could grow your capacity to keep calm under pressure to find the best way to solve your problems?

That’s precisely what Ryan Holiday teaches in his best-selling book “The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph” ($14.85, Amazon.com). The book draws from the ancient Greek philosophy of stoicism to show today’s leaders how to overcome adversity with greater perseverance and resilience.

Here are my three takeaways – with relevant quotes from Holiday – that I think can help you navigate the obstacles you face every day in fleet.

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Sean M. Lyden

Do Automated Driving Technologies Promote High-Risk Behaviors?

On May 7, a Tesla Model S, with Autopilot engaged, slammed full-speed into a tractor-trailer that pulled out in front of it, killing the Tesla’s driver. The incident was billed as the first death caused by autonomous car technology and raised questions about whether the Tesla Autopilot – or any similar type of system, for that matter – is ready for prime time. This was a blow to an industry that has been touting self-driving cars as the answer to the over 33,000 people who die from motor vehicle crashes each year in the U.S.

Then, within days of initial reports, Reuters reported that there was a portable DVD player inside the vehicle playing a video at the moment of impact. The conclusion: Although the Tesla failed to “see” the truck, the driver didn’t see it either, presumably because he was distracted by watching a video.

This isn’t the only example of a Tesla driver pushing the limits of Autopilot. Despite the automaker’s warnings that Autopilot is not intended to be a fully autonomous system – and that the driver must be able to retake control of the vehicle at any time – there have been numerous YouTube videos posted by Model S owners, depicting them engaging in high-risk behaviors, including dozing off behind the wheel.

Could it be that an automated driving technology touted to save lives has actually created more opportunity for riskier behavior?

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Sean M. Lyden

Five Years In, UFP’s Mission Remains the Same: Bring Valuable Content to the Utility Fleet Community

This is our fifth-anniversary issue, and I’m grateful to be part of a dynamic team that’s so passionate about serving the utility industry.

From the beginning in 2011, we have dedicated ourselves to creating educational content that’s tailored to addressing the unique challenges you face in a utility fleet environment. And we refuse to settle. We understand that your world – and job – is constantly shifting, and you’re looking for information that can help you navigate that changing landscape.

That’s why, in 2014, we established an editorial advisory board of your peers – utility fleet professionals from Duke Energy, Time Warner Cable, PG&E, Nebraska Public Power District, Omaha Public Power District and Oklahoma Gas & Electric – to ensure our content remains relevant, accurate and valuable to you. Our board reviews virtually every article we produce and has been instrumental for me to test and “sanity check” story ideas to ensure we keep upping our game in serving you.

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Sean M. Lyden

The Risk Management Challenge in a Self-Driving World

When you read the latest media coverage, you get the sense that when it comes to self-driving vehicles, it’s not a matter of if, but when. Yet, as autonomous vehicle systems get more and more market-ready, will our society be ready? And, on a more granular level, will we in the fleet industry be ready?

Take, for example, risk management. When a robotic vehicle is involved in a collision, who – or what – is responsible?

There’s a growing consensus around the idea that the automaker would assume liability. But what would happen if a sensor on your self-driving truck failed to detect a child darting behind the vehicle as it shifted in reverse, and the truck fatally struck that child?

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Sean M. Lyden

Ethics: The Biggest Hurdle for Self-Driving Vehicles

In October, thousands of Tesla Model S owners across the globe downloaded the Autopilot upgrade, launching the most advanced commercially available driver assistance technology to date. When engaged, Tesla’s Autopilot operates on the highway like cruise control on steroids, using cameras to keep the vehicle within lane markers, radar to maintain safe speed and distance from vehicles ahead, and sonar to sense when to safely change lanes.

And this is just a taste of what’s to come, as a growing number of automakers and technology giants – including Google, Apple and Uber – have entered the race to launch a fully autonomous vehicle by the end of this decade.

But as a machine takes on more and more of a human driver’s responsibility for decision-making – such as selecting the most optimal routes, deciding when to change lanes and determining when to safely pass another vehicle – how will it handle the moral and ethical dilemmas that humans face from time to time?

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Sean M. Lyden

The Power of Expectation in Leadership

In the 1960s, psychologist Robert Rosenthal and school principal Lenore Jacobson conducted an experiment at an elementary school in California. All students in grades one through six were given IQ tests. The researchers then identified the top 20 percent for each grade – those students who were to be considered the most gifted, with the greatest learning potential.

What the teachers did not know, however, is that those students in the top 20 percent were chosen at random, not by their actual scores.

And something very interesting happened. When all the students were retested eight months later, the randomly selected group scored significantly higher, with greater improvement compared to their peers.

How could that happen?

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Sean M. Lyden

Managing Assets, Leading People

As I meet with utility fleet managers, a common thread keeps emerging from our conversations – that highly effective fleet professionals are also great leaders.

This is because the job is about more than managing assets; you also have to work with people to get things done.

Take telematics, for instance. From strictly an asset management perspective, telematics can be a powerful tool to reduce fuel costs by tracking driver performance. But if drivers perceive the technology as Big Brother to catch them doing something wrong, this negatively impacts their morale and productivity. So, how do you manage a telematics deployment in such a way that operators become more receptive to the technology?

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Sean M. Lyden

Introducing the All-New Utility Fleet Conference at ICUEE

Are you seeking to grow your fleet knowledge and skills to become more valuable to your employer? Looking to expand your influence with senior management to get more done for your fleet? Searching for new ideas about how to do more with less, whether it’s money, resources, time or all three?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, we at Utility Fleet Professional magazine have created a must-attend conference for you – the Utility Fleet Conference (UFC).

UFC is a new three-day educational event, scheduled to take place September 28-30, that drills down into best practices, strategies and trends that address the unique needs and challenges of utility fleets. Co-located with the popular International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition in Louisville, Ky., UFC offers an exclusive forum for you to exchange ideas with peers and industry experts, so that you come away with actionable tips to apply in your own fleet and career.

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Sean M. Lyden

New Design with Your Success in Mind

When you work in fleet operations in the utility industry, you’re under intense pressure to juggle multiple roles – and to do them all well. You're expected to be an engineer (to spec vehicles for maximum uptime and efficiency), a chief negotiator (to drive the lowest acquisition costs), a financial analyst (to squeeze more profit from operations), an organizational psychologist (to boost driver morale and productivity) and a risk manager (to improve safety and minimize exposure).

Yet there is only so much time in the day. When your attention is spread across various responsibilities, where do you find the time to gather the information you need to grow and excel in your work?

That’s what we seek to help you with through our redesign of Utility Fleet Professional magazine.

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Seth Skydel

Getting Involved

Regulatory issues continue to dominate legislative agendas. In his annual regulatory and legislative update during this year’s Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference, Pat O’Connor, legislative counsel for the NAFA Fleet Management Association, covered a range of topics for fleet executives to consider.

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Seth Skydel

Moving the Needle

Wherever we turn these days, it seems that CNG is one topic on everyone’s mind. At the 2014 Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference held in June, for example, CNG was the subject of the first technical session, including a report by Nina Kisch, manager, fleet administration, transportation services at PG&E. Among the more than 3,300 on-road alternative-fueled and high-efficiency vehicles in the PG&E fleet, she reported, there are more than 720 natural gas units.

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Seth Skydel

Growing Support

In his State of the Union address delivered earlier this year, President Obama, speaking about the important role natural gas has played in his “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, urged Congress to support construction of natural gas fueling stations. NGVAmerica, an organization that represents more than 200 companies, environmental groups, and government organizations interested in the use of natural gas and biomethane as transportation fuels, was quick to applaud his remarks.

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Seth Skydel

How to Measure Performance

Informed, effective decisions are rooted in accurate data. That was precisely the goal behind a survey on Key Process Indicators (KPIs) conducted by the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference. At its 2013 gathering, EUFMC presented results of that survey, which was completed by more than 100 utility companies. The findings provide a helpful list of valuable KPIs:

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Seth Skydel

Are We Done With Diesel?

Green Gas Nozzle 300pxConsidering all the activity surrounding alternative fuel vehicles and equipment, from natural gas to hybrids to all-electric models, it’s hard not to wonder if diesel fuel might someday become a thing of the past. Those thoughts were easily erased, however, if you attended the 2013 Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Washington, D.C., where new technology diesel advancements for trucks and passenger vehicles were showcased by the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF).

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Seth Skydel

Record Pace

At press time, ICUEE 2013 is on track to set new records. Strong exhibitor demand is pushing exhibit space to capacity, attendee registrations continue to outpace the last two shows and a new education program lineup is attracting near-record sales.

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KNOWLEDGE, INSIGHT & STRATEGY FOR UTILITY FLEET LEADERS

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