What’s Driving Up Costs for Your Utility Truck Fleet?
March 7, 2019
Utility and municipality trucks must be ready for anything. Unplanned downtime means lost time and money — and unhappy customers.
Work truck solutions
No matter the weather conditions, location or time of day, utility and municipality service trucks must be ready when duty calls to perform critical repair and maintenance work that helps keep the lights on, the water running and the snow cleared.
Since service trucks must be ready for anything in the field, they are often packed with equipment and tools. Having the lightest payload possible — while still carrying the tools and equipment necessary to tackle many jobs — is the goal for any service truck.
Work trucks that carry multiple engine-driven machines have less available payload and, therefore, less room for important tools. Instead of carrying two or three separate machines, such as an air compressor, generator and welder, using an all-in-one can maximize work truck capabilities while reducing weight and freeing up space. This provides more available payload space on the truck for other important items that may be needed on the job.
Learn more about how power systems deliver space and weight savings on work trucks, while also providing additional benefits for reduced downtime, fuel savings and extended chassis life.
What can an all-in-one do?
While PTO-driven systems can’t operate unless the truck engine is idling, an all-in-one solution can provide compressed air, generator power, battery charging/crank assist, welding and power to support 12-volt DC needs — all with the work truck engine turned off.
The compact design of all-in-one units can reduce truck weight by up to 500 pounds and increase available payload by up to 24 cubic feet compared to using multiple engine-driven machines. This weight savings helps save fuel, extend chassis life and reduce the risk of costly overweight fines.
In addition, all-in-one solutions significantly cut truck engine idle time, which reduces maintenance costs and downtime.
The costs of unplanned downtime
When a service truck is in the shop for repair, it can be out of commission for days and cost hundreds or even thousands in lost revenue and productivity. Add to that what is spent on truck repairs, and it becomes clear how costly downtime can be.
Beyond the financial hard costs, unplanned downtime can cost you in less obvious ways. The hidden costs of downtime can include lost credibility, unhappy customers and increased project expenses that are passed on to taxpayers or customers.
Many utility and municipality service trucks are used for repair and maintenance on other vehicles and heavy equipment in the organization’s fleet. When service trucks go down, it delays getting snowplows, bucket trucks or other equipment back in service. This impacts how long it takes to get critical services back up and running — and, ultimately, public satisfaction.
Reduce idling to minimize downtime
Fleet drivers and service technicians depend on their vehicles to do their jobs, whether it’s repairing another piece of equipment in the fleet or installing water lines. Reliable trucks and tools are critical to the operation.
A misconception in the industry is that a truck must be turned on to power all the equipment needed on site. But idling a truck often causes more harm than good.
“With all the new emissions systems on these trucks, idle time is very hard on the Tier 4 engines,” says Dewayne Harris, garage foreman, Cleveland Utilities. “Any way that we can cut that idle time back, that’s what we’re looking for.”
In a 2015 NTEA study, 34 percent of fleet managers reported an average truck engine idle time of three or more hours per day. Utility and telecom trucks were the most likely to idle four hours or more per day when looking at all segments of the work truck industry, according to the study.
Tier 4 diesel engines aren’t designed to constantly idle. In these engines, a diesel particulate filter (DPF) traps soot from engine exhaust gases and must be periodically cleaned through regeneration to maintain emissions reduction performance and fuel efficiency. The more a Tier 4 engine idles — such as when it’s used to power air compressors, pumps, hydraulic cranes and other jobsite tools — the more clogged the filter becomes, and the more frequently regeneration is required.
When a truck goes down for repair or emissions-related issues, it’s typically in the shop for at least a week, which can significantly delay work on projects in the field and impact utility and municipality customers.
Reliable solutions to save space and money
All-in-one systems can reduce work truck weight and increase available payload, while still providing all the power capabilities technicians need in the field.
Choosing reliable equipment that reduces truck engine idle time can help improve fleet performance and efficiency and minimize unplanned downtime for truck maintenance and repair — so technicians are ready to tackle any job.
This is the first article in a three-part series about utility and municipality service trucks. Read article two to learn how an EnPak power system can minimize downtime and decrease maintenance and fuel costs compared to a PTO system. Read article three to learn how to select the right all-in-one solution for your service truck.