Kate Wade

Prestolite Isolated Ground Technology

Prestolite-Ground-Technology

Prestolite Electric recently pioneered the use of isolated ground technology – which protects engines from potentially severe electrolytic damage caused by stray voltage – in its line of IdlePro and IdlePro Extreme alternators. 

The technology, which helps to prevent overall associated component failure and vehicle downtime, includes a dedicated cable that directs the electric current from the battery to the alternator, as well as a second dedicated electrical cable that directs the electric current from the alternator back to the battery.

More common alternator designs allow the case of the alternator to be part of the electrical circuit. When an alternator is anchored to the engine, electric current can then travel through or along the engine, increasing the opportunity for engine electrolysis or electronic noise interfering with other electronic equipment in the engine or vehicle. In today’s modern engines, the added electronic noise can trip ghost error codes, necessitating a service incident and diagnostic troubleshooting. www.prestolite.com

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Kate Wade

SolarEdge Electric Vehicle Charger

SolarEdge-EV-Charger

SolarEdge Technologies Inc., a global leader in PV inverters, power optimizers and module-level monitoring services, is unveiling the world’s first inverter-integrated electric vehicle (EV) charger. By supplementing grid power with PV power, SolarEdge’s Level 2 EV charger offers charging up to six times faster than a standard Level 1 charger with its innovative solar boost mode. 

SolarEdge’s HD-Wave inverter, once integrated with an EV charger, will not only provide the existing management and monitoring of solar production, but also will enable EV charging from a single inverter and dashboard. The combined solution will offer considerable cost savings on both hardware and labor by eliminating the need for an additional conduit, wiring and breaker installation. The solution also will eliminate the need for an additional dedicated circuit breaker, which saves space and a potential main distribution panel upgrade.

With a 12-year warranty, the inverter-integrated EV charger offers potential future operating modes, such as demand-response and charging at off-peak hours to optimize time-of-use rates. The inverter-integrated EV charger is expected to be available in the last quarter of 2017. www.solaredge.us

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Sean M. Lyden

The Final 3

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Each issue, we ask a fleet professional to share three keys to fleet success.

This issue’s Final 3 participant is Keith Gindoff, manager of fleet and energy services for Duke Energy subsidiary Piedmont Natural Gas (www.piedmontng.com), an energy services company that distributes natural gas to more than a million residential, commercial, industrial and power generation customers in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, with about 1,215 total vehicles in its fleet.

#1. Make data-driven decisions.
“Think of a vehicle as a giant computer, and use the telematics data that the vehicle provides to give you greater insight to make more effective decisions with your fleet. Find a way to generate as much information as possible from the vehicle to optimize your maintenance and replacement schedules for maximum uptime and cost efficiency.” 

#2. Understand the driver’s needs.
“Really get to know the users of the vehicles and assets by going out into the field with them to understand the jobs they need the assets for. When you ask drivers for their opinions and observe for yourself how the vehicle is being used, you will be able to develop much more effective specifications.”

#3. Network with other fleet managers.
“You will learn at a much faster pace if you get to know and work with other fleet managers in your industry. They have already gone through, tested and tried – successfully or unsuccessfully – most of what you will be encountering. So, use their experience and expertise to help you become a more successful fleet manager.”

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Grace Suizo

Technology Helps Fleets Streamline Maintenance Operations

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Where fleet maintenance is concerned, technology providers including Decisiv (www.decisiv.com) and Zonar Systems (www.zonarsystems.com) have been working with utilities to maximize visibility, consistency and transparency, among other things.

“Those actually go right to your bottom line because you reduce costs, you reduce downtime, and you make everybody more effective and the whole process more efficient,” said Michael Riemer, vice president of product and channel marketing for Decisiv.

Decreasing Downtime
Reducing downtime is a primary goal of nearly every utility fleet manager since it is a huge productivity killer.

“If your asset is down for two days but should only be down for two hours, that's a huge cost,” Riemer said.

One of the biggest culprits contributing to unnecessary downtime are inefficient and often outdated paper-based systems and communication methods. Much of the time involved in a service event – from the time someone realizes an asset is broken to the time it’s back in service – has nothing to do with fixing the asset, Riemer noted. “It’s all the other things: the talking, the paper finding, the communicating, the scheduling. It’s a highly inefficient process which dramatically increases downtime,” he said.

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Sandy Smith

Renting vs. Buying Heavy Equipment

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It’s a common occurrence for utilities and contractors: A piece of heavy equipment is needed, but it’s not immediately available in the fleet, so the project manager rents what’s required. But that may not always be the right strategy – especially when the rental is done outside the fleet manager’s purview.

“I have seen cases where equipment was rented for lengths up to 27 months and turned back in to the rental store,” said Daniel Fitzpatrick, fleet manager for NorthWestern Energy, which provides electricity and natural gas to more than 700,000 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. “When this happens, you lose any rental credit and the equipment.”

Paul Lauria, president of fleet management consulting firm Mercury Associates (http://mercury-assoc.com/), has seen it too. “One of the problems we see, particularly in utility companies, is they allow business units to rent equipment to fill a temporary need,” he said. “Two years later, the rental unit is still in the fleet and no one has been paying attention. It would have been cheaper to purchase and then dispose of it.”

Granted, haggling over a purchase or evaluating the merits of rental versus ownership may not make sense when thousands of customers are without service. So, while there likely are no hard and fast rules that utilities can develop to address this issue, following some broad principles can help.

“It makes financial sense to own your equipment,” Fitzpatrick said. He tries to purchase any rental equipment at a reduced price when the rental ends, or when money has become available. “Where a buyout is not an option, focus on the interest rate and controlling costs in the short term.”

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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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Kate Wade

Stertil-Koni Smart Control System

Stertil-Koni-Control-System

Heavy-duty vehicle lift leader Stertil-Koni has incorporated its advanced, full-color, touch-screen control console – known as the ebright Smart Control System – into the company’s popular ECOLIFT, an ultra-shallow, full-rise, axle-engaging in-ground scissor-lifting system.

In that way, the ongoing operation and monitoring of the lift is made even easier, placing all critical information directly at the fingertips of the person who needs it most – the busy technician on the shop floor.

First deployed on Stertil-Koni wireless mobile column lifts in 2015, and subsequently rolled out to the company’s battery-operated cable mobile column lifts in 2017, the enhanced ebright Smart Control System provides intuitive ease of use with maximum visual information about the entire lifting process.

This ebright Smart Control System will deliver intuitive controls with actual data about the lift in action; tracking of specific operations and information codes; relevant information available at a glance; actual lifting height displayed; and visual display of maximum programmable lifting height. www.stertil-koni.com

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Kate Wade

Greenlee G6 Turbo Puller

Greenlee-Turbo-Puller

Greenlee Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. company, has introduced the G6 Turbo puller to improve contractor speed and efficiency. Capable of pulling 6,000 pounds of force, the G6 Turbo model pulls up to 60 percent faster than the competition, according to the company.

The 120-volt AC drive motor can pull 6,000 pounds of maximum force and 4,000 pounds continuously. Dual capstans on the G6 Turbo puller deliver faster pulling speeds across the entire load spectrum of the pull. Control boards monitor the current draw of the G6 Turbo puller motor and protect it from overloading the puller. Built-in spring-loaded pins allow for quick changeovers and easy setup, and eliminate the hassle of loose pieces.

The G6 Turbo puller is equipped with features to reduce downtime and injuries. A footswitch safely controls motor power without the operator placing themselves in front of the rope. The 125-pound G6 Turbo puller is built on a dolly, making it easier to move the unit from worksite to worksite. Handles on the dolly and the boom allow operators to easily and ergonomically adjust for height. A gearbox feature prevents rope and cable tension from pulling back into the conduit when the operator stops pulling. Setup time is faster and easier than other pullers on the market. http://greenlee.com/g6

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UFP Webmaster

Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference June 4-7, 2017 in Williamsburg, VA

The Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference (EUFMC) is an educational conference for fleet representatives from investor-owned electric utilities, electric cooperatives and electrical contractors. Held annually at the Williamsburg Lodge and Conference Center in Williamsburg, Virginia, EUFMC 2017 will take place from June 4-7.

Click here to read more: http://eufmc.com/

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Kate Wade

DICA ProStack Cribbing

DICA-Cribbing

Utility crews are often faced with setting outrigger-enabled equipment on sloped or uneven ground. ProStack Cribbing from DICA has been developed with an interlocking design that safely provides additional height under outrigger floats when setting up in uneven ground conditions.

ProStack Cribbing has three basic parts: a base outrigger pad, interlocking cribbing blocks and a high-friction top grip pad. The base ProStack Outrigger Pad is manufactured with a pyramid-shaped surface that interlocks with the cribbing blocks. On top of the base pad, operators stack layers of two 6-inch-by-12-inch-by-24-inch cribbing blocks with the pyramid-shape surface that lock into the base pad. Lastly, a ProStack Grip Pad is placed on top of the stack to protect the pyramid surface on the cribbing blocks and provide a high-friction surface for the outrigger foot.

ProStack is available in three cribbing kit options that include a DR36-2, DR42-2 or DR48-2 base outrigger pad, along with four cribbing blocks and one grip pad. ProStack individual parts also are available for purchase, including Cribbing Wedges, which can be used on sloped surfaces to establish a level foundation under the ProStack Outrigger Pad. http://dicausa.com/products/prostack-plastic-cribbing-blocks/

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Kate Wade

HUBB Fleet Savings Calculator

HUBB-Fleet-Savings-Calculator

HUBB Filters has created a new educational tool to help fleet managers compare their oil change costs and the potential savings they can achieve by switching to the HUBB filter program.

Designed for ease of use, HUBB’s Fleet Savings Calculator is located at www.hubbfilters.com/fleet_calculator and can be completed in less than a minute. Fleet managers simply plug in how many Class 1-4 or 5-6 vehicles they have in their fleet, along with the number of PMs scheduled per year, per vehicle. An instant cost savings analysis of what HUBB could save a fleet over a four-year period is presented.

Fleet field results collected by HUBB, along with independent oil analysis, demonstrate that HUBB can save a typical 2,000-vehicle fleet $500,000 over a four-year period.

HUBB has an 8-inch spin-on oil filter for Class 2-6 light- and medium-duty diesel engines, and a 3-inch filter for passenger cars or light-duty trucks that use a spin-on filter. www.hubbfilters.com/fleet_calculator

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Sean M. Lyden

The Final 3

Tim-King-Web

Each issue, we ask a fleet professional to share three keys to fleet success.

This issue’s Final 3 participant is Tim C. King, author of the book “Fleet Services: Managing to Redefine Success” published by SAE International (http://books.sae.org/r-447/) and former manager of fleet services for what is now NV Energy (www.nvenergy.com), an electric and gas utility in Nevada with over 1 million customers. King also will be a presenter at Utility Fleet Conference 2017 at ICUEE in Louisville, Ky., a fleet education event that will take place October 2-4 (https://utilityfleetconference.com/).

#1. Aim high.
“Require excellence with everything. Benchmark your service performance on organizations that thrive in the most successful industries – such as high-growth startups – not just other fleets. The goal is to consistently exceed expectations by achieving unexpected win-win results with all your customers.”

#2. Remember that successful fleet management begins by identifying all your customers.
“Customers define your success. So, all customers must be identified. These include your executives/owners and all internal recipients of services, external customers and ancillary customers, such as internal supporting services. This last group also includes external regulatory customers such as local, regional, state and federal regulators.”

#3. Be bold and lead change.
“Recognize you’re going to do things differently. For this level of success, you won’t be able to rely only on typical industry standards as a guide. By gaining a broader knowledge and perspective of customer service, learn to outgrow baggage such as history, culture, paradigms and similar other misperceptions. And realize success depends on process redesign, not just the normally required process improvement.”

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Grace Suizo

3 Problems to Avoid When Spec’ing a Cable Reel Trailer

Felling-Web

When it comes to installing cables, pipes and the like, cable reel trailers can help utility and telecom crews boost productivity and efficiency so they can get more done in less time and for a lower cost of operation. That is, of course, assuming that they’ve selected the right equipment for the job.

Considering most cable reel trailers can last at least 10 years – or possibly even up to 20 if properly maintained – careful thought and consideration should be put into spec’ing the right unit prior to purchase. Not doing so could mean the difference between spending thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of dollars.

According to Mark Rapp, product manager for utility and telecom products for Felling Trailers (www.felling.com), the price of reel trailers varies greatly depending on weight-carrying requirements and the options the trailers are equipped with.

For example, a simple single reel trailer that can haul a 3,000-pound reel can start as low as $3,000, while a three-reel trailer – set up to haul 10,000-pound reels and loaded with options such as hydraulic payout/take-up assemblies and tensioning brakes – can be $65,000, he explained.

Donnie Bright, business development manager for Sherman + Reilly (www.sherman-reilly.com), had a similar response, noting that cost is influenced by the scope of work desired.

“Cost of ownership is very minimal if the cable reel trailer is sized and used correctly,” he said. “Keep your trailer properly maintained per the manufacturer's maintenance schedule. The life cycle will vary, but if properly maintained and only slightly abused, you should see a minimum 10 to 20 years of service on a quality-built trailer.”

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Jim Galligan

Getting the Most Out of Your Tires

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As a utility fleet manager, you operate perhaps the most diversified vehicle fleet of any business, typically using all weight classes of trucks, from light- to heavy-duty, on the road and off, hauling aerial devices, digger derricks and a slew of other job-specific equipment on good pavement or through fields of debris.

Given these characteristics, getting the best value and performance from your tires may not be rocket science, but it does take planning, smart spec’ing and commitment to a maintenance program, according to tire manufacturers.

A fleet’s first step toward tire value is to determine its goals, said Bill Walmsley, product category manager with Michelin Americas Truck Tires (www.michelintruck.com). What do you want in your tires? Durable, trouble-free service and long, even wear? Additional features? Regardless, selecting the best tire for the application is key. Walmsley suggested that fleets start by looking at the same tire size they currently have on their equipment by wheel position and then explore available options in that size to meet the specific conditions under which the equipment will operate. “This might entail specific load-carrying requirements, weather conditions or environmental issues, such as off-road products or tires which operate well in field or snow conditions,” he said.

Calibrating the balance between load and appropriate tire pressure is critical, but it also is easy since every tire manufacturer publishes load and inflation charts for their tires. The only way to make sure the calibrations are correct is to know the loads being carried and use the charts, Walmsley said.

“Tires are designed and optimized to carry a desired load at a specified pressure. Proper pressure for the maximum load being carried is very important. Underinflation and overinflation for the loads being carried will affect tire and casing life and performance,” Walmsley said.

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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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Kate Wade

Air-Weigh LoadMaxx Trailer Scale

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Air-Weigh has released the next-generation LoadMaxx Trailer Scale. The new scale combines the best of previous LoadMaxx and Quickload trailer scales into one trailer scale with two options: LoadMaxx base model, and LoadMaxx with ComLink.

The updated LoadMaxx scale continues to offer the same great features customers have come to love about previous-generation scales, including an icon-based touch-screen display; built-in LED alarm lights; dual-point calibration and high-precision pressure sensor for weight accuracy; compensation for temperature and altitude change; PIN-protected calibration; and English, Spanish and French language options.

The ComLink option now available for the LoadMaxx trailer scale enables drivers to view steer, drive, trailer, GVW and net payload on an in-cab LoadMaxx tractor display. Tractor/trailer weight information can also be sent to the fleet's management software via the built-in data communication interface. When used with the Bluetooth-compatible LoadMaxx Tractor Scale, weight data is also available on any smartphone or tablet through Air-Weigh’s LoadMaxx App. www.air-weigh.com

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Kate Wade

Sherman+Reilly PT-3000 Puller/Tensioner

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Sherman+Reilly, a Textron Inc. company, has launched the new PT-3000, a single-drum, multipurpose distribution puller/tensioner capable of pulling up to 3,000 pounds overhead and up to 7,500 pounds underground.

Addressing overhead and underground applications, the unit offers a suite of accessories that make the PT-3000 a true workhorse. The frame is outfitted with a curbside motor mount for pilot line winding that utilizes Sherman+Reilly’s Spider System, an integrated set of special equipment, reels, rope and accessories for fast and easy installation of pulling lines with distribution class conductors.

Sherman+Reilly has added an optional hydraulically actuated Pad Mount Transformer Attachment in the underground package to address tough approach angles and allow for optimized setup for underground pulling applications. www.sherman-reilly.com

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UFP Webmaster

NAFA Institute & Expo, April 25-28, 2017 in Tampa, FL

NAFA’s annual Institute & Expo is the largest event of the fleet management industry! The perfect opportunity to increase your networking power, I&E is the largest community of fleet professionals who attend year after year because they experience I&E’s hands-on value.

Learn more at http://www.nafainstitute.org/

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Kate Wade

DewEze Releases Battery-Powered Electric System

DewEze Releases Battery-Powered Electric System

Reduce, reuse and recharge with the battery-powered electric (BEH) driven system by DewEze Hydraulics. Known for its innovative roots, DewEze continues that tradition with the release of this BEH package for medium-duty truck applications.

The steel-constructed cabinet houses a 12-volt motor, two 100/110-amp class batteries and a charge monitoring system to power hydraulic needs. This green technology offers a turnkey solution for no-idling regulations that improves noise reduction, decreases operator fatigue and reduces costs for utility fleet trucks.

The BEH power house is available in two packages: Lithium Ion at 200 amp hours and AGM at 220 amp hours. The DewEze-designed package – 24 by 16.5 by 11.5 inches – conveniently fits into any tail shelf frame rails. www.deweze.com

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Kate Wade

BrandFX Launches UltimateFX and UtilityFX

BrandFX Launches UltimateFX and UtilityFX

BrandFX, a leader in lightweight composite work truck bodies, launched the all-new UltimateFX and UtilityFX at the NTEA Work Truck Show 2017. The UltimateFX is the industry’s first all-composite body and understructure for the work truck market. The UtilityFX is the all-composite body for cutaway work van applications.

A crash test video was screened at the event, revealing no permanent deformation or structural damage to the UltimateFX body/understructure after a simulation of a frontal crash in excess of 30 mph.

Like other advanced composite bodies from BrandFX, the UtilityFX was built to withstand up to 20 years of continual use. The engineered space in the UtilityFX allows for an increase in mobile operation efficiency by providing optimal access to all storage areas and organizational compartments.

Both products use advanced composite construction that is lighter than aluminum, designed to withstand the same rigors and working conditions of a steel body, and ultimately corrosion and oxidation free. The UltimateFX and UtilityFX are the first of their kind on the market. www.brandfxbody.com

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