Utility Trucks: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Later this month, the International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition, or ICUEE, will take place in Louisville, Ky. The biennial demo expo gives utility and construction workers a chance to get some hands-on time with a variety of equipment types, including all-terrain vehicles, earthmoving equipment and utility trucks.

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In 2005, the last time ICUEE took place, more than 800 exhibitors spread their wares over more than 1 million net square feet of exhibit space. Nearly 15,000 professionals from the electric, sewer/water, phone/cable, gas, general construction, government and landscaping industries were on-hand to view all those exhibits.

At this year’s expo, Oct. 16-18, utility workers will once again get the opportunity to kick the tires and get behind the wheels of a number of new utility vehicle offerings. Provided here is a sneak preview of just a few of the types of trucks you might see at ICUEE.

New Offerings from Dejana for Installing, Removing Cable

Dejana Truck & Utility Equipment will unveil two new vehicles at the ICUEE expo: one designed for installing underground cable and one designed for removing it.

Dejana developed the Model 16-9-60 Tandem Reel Loader in close cooperation with public utility companies for the transportation and installation of underground wire and cable. The Tandem Reel Loader (pictured on previous page) offers a variety of new features that make cable transportation and handling easier, and better supports the installation process. The unit features a newly designed, patented lifting system that is directly connected without toggle linkages for greater lifting capacity and less downtime. The rear lifting arms offer a radial swing of 160 degrees to enable the unit to reach back, load-and-lift a 16,000-pound reel above the truck, transfer it to the forward arms, then reach back and load-and-lift a second reel to be stored in the aft position.

Other unique features include a modular rim drive system made from a special high durometer elastomer that can better withstand use and can be easily replaced, a 30,000-pound-capacity winch, and a rear mounted capstan drive. Overall, the Tandem Reel Loader is designed with a lower center of gravity to better handle loads under transport and a lower deck height for better operator visibility.

The dual front and rear arms in the Tandem Reel Loader are designed to handle heavy-duty wear and tear and excessive load. The patented lifting system features a hydraulic cylinder on each lifting arm that is directly connected without toggle linkages for greater lifting capacity with less maintenance and downtime. The lifting arms incorporate a heavy-duty torque tube to keep them in alignment and provide adjustment capability that can even be performed in the field. Over-center hydraulic latches secure the reel’s spindle bar while being lifted and when being transferred between the front and rear positions. Hydraulically driven rim drive rollers can also be included to power-drive the reels during cable winding or payout.

The 30,000-pound-capacity winch includes built-in control to keep cable from bird nesting, and an environmentally friendly, low-volume hydraulic system is also included that requires only 20 gallons of hydraulic fluid and is proportionally controlled with a variable flow pressure compensated pump.

The Dejana Tandem Reel Loader’s lower deck height was designed to give the operator better visibility across the bed, and a lower center of gravity to be more stable under load. An FM radio control allows the operator to perform all functions remotely. The unit has expanded cabinet space with large, extra-deep compartments.

Also at ICUEE, Dejana will introduce a new truck design for the removal of underground wire and cable, The Dejana Hub Drive Cable Puller, like the Tandem Reel Loader, was developed in cooperation with public utility companies and offers a variety of patented design features to increase capacity, provide trouble-free performance and improve service life. The reel unit features a patented drive system that can deliver up to 400,000 inch-pounds of torque and produce up to 20,000 pounds of pulling power. When extended, the entire reel unit can be moved laterally up to 30 inches in either direction, which makes spooling cable in difficult locations quick and easy. The winch system has been redesigned to include an adjustable winch line sheave with built-in slack tension rollers. Overall, the truck is designed for heavy-duty operation with a low deck height that is clear of obstacles, convenient compartments with large storage capacity and complete safety features.

“What makes this truck unique is the reel design and the controls,” said Lou Balazs, manager of Dejana’s Fleet & Municipality Group. “We spent a lot of time with the utilities trying to specifically identify some of the issues that they had with their existing units, and finding out how we can make their jobs easier. What we came up with is a truck that can meet their demanding requirements, while at the same time improving their performance by significantly reducing things like cable jams.”

Odyne and Dueco Team up to Provide PHEV Tech to Utilities

Odyne Corporation, a leading developer of advanced plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) technology for trucks and buses, recently announced an agreement with Dueco Inc., to develop a proprietary plug-in hybrid electric vehicle propulsion system optimized for aerial lift truck applications. Dueco can incorporate this propulsion system for customers requesting plug-in hybrid electric aerial lift trucks. Dueco’s customers require trucks with aerial lifts enabling workers to make repairs on equipment like traffic lights, elevated power lines or telecommunication cables.

Roger M. Slotkin, CEO of Odyne Corporation, commented, “In order to operate the vehicle systems during the long time periods that Dueco’s customers perform work at elevated levels, the engine must be idling in a conventionally powered vehicle. Odyne addresses the unique challenge to eliminate engine idling. By installing our technology, Dueco’s trucks can plug into the power grid at night, providing enough power to work at job sites with the engine off, thus reducing pollution and fuel use.”

Thomas Dalum, CEO of DUECO, stated, “We believe that Odyne’s focus on plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology will be especially beneficial for utilities. The ability to use off-peak domestic electric power to recharge the system will increase fuel economy and reduce pollution.”

Terex Utilities Touts Benefits of Hybrid Electrics

Terex Utilities is also at the forefront of hybrid vehicle development. A little less than a year ago, Terex introduced its HRX-55 Overcenter Material Handling Aerial Device–outfitted for the first time on a Peterbilt hybrid-electric, medium duty truck–at the Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) national meeting.

Terex Utilities is at the forefront of hybrid vehicle development with its HRX-55 Overcenter Material Handling Aerial Device-outfitted on a Peterbilt hybrid-electric, medium duty truck.
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The Terex Utilities HRX-55 Aerial Device and Peterbilt hybrid Model 335 medium-duty truck that was on display at the HTUF meeting went into limited production in 2007. The equipment has been jointly developed by Terex Utilities and Peterbilt with a fully integrated chassis and body combination, specifically designed to allow for installation of the hybrid components on the chassis during manufacturing.

“The benefit to our customers in terms of noise reduction and fuel economy is significant,” says Lee Jacobson, Terex Utilities vice president of marketing and sales.

Jacobson said the HRX-55 on a medium-duty truck base is widely used in municipal and utility applications, where the demand for quieter equipment and improved fuel economy has largely driven the development of hybrid vehicles.

“With Peterbilt’s Class 7 hybrid Model 335, the PTO can operate for approximately 25 minutes before requiring battery recharging,” Jacobson said. “At that time, the diesel engine will automatically start to recharge the batteries, typically for about three minutes. This means that the diesel engine may run less than one hour during eight hours of operation of the unit, a major advantage for use in highly populated areas.”

IMT Adds Midsize Crane Body to Dominator Family

Iowa Mold Tooling Co. Inc. (IMT) has taken some of the key features from its Dominator mechanics trucks and added them to the DSC20 crane body to give the operator more comfort and mobility around the vehicle. Some of the enhancements to the new Dominator DSC20 mechanics truck include a patented floor design, greater accessibility to tools, a single-handle latch on the tailgate, an enhanced shelf hanger bracket system, the addition of rain eaves, sidepacks designed for greater storage and improved visibility of rear LED taillights.

Dominator DSC20 mechanics truck feature rain eaves on each side of the truck to divert water away from the tops of the compartment doors.
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The Dominator DSC20 enhancements started with a patented floor design to maintain the lightest-weight body in the market without sacrificing structural integrity. Additionally, the new design allows greater accessibility to tools, without losing any storage, by providing front vertical compartments with new single doors.

IMT also incorporated two new, patent-pending features into the Dominator DSC20 crane body: a single-handle latch on the tailgate with a three-point mechanism that reduces the amount of force required to open and close the latch and an enhanced shelf hanger bracket system that enables quick adjustment of compartment shelves. The Dominator DSC20 mechanics truck also features the addition of rain eaves on each side of the truck to divert water away from the tops of the compartment doors.

Ride and Drive at ICUEE

The 2007 ICUEE Expo has expanded its working equipment demonstrations with a new “ride and drive” program which spotlights on-road commercial vehicles. The ride and drive program builds on ICUEE’s reputation as The Demo Expo and allows attendees to better compare commercial vehicles for the construction and utility industries as well as truck engines and components. In addition to trucks and engines, these products will include transmissions, power systems, clutch and brake systems, safety and collision warning systems, fleet, fuel and GPS management systems, and hybrid and alternative fuel systems.

“Exhibitors in the ICUEE ride and drive program will now have the same opportunity as other outdoor exhibitors to show their equipment in action. This offers added value to attendees who are at the show to evaluate and purchase trucks, engines and components,” said ICUEE show manager Nicole Hallada.

More information about ICUEE is available at www.icuee.com.

Hybrid Trucks Becoming an Option for Utilities

Two utility companies have recently made news with their commitment to using “hybrid” trucks in their utility vehicle fleets. For Florida Power & Light and Pacific Gas & Electric, the use of hybrids provides a way not only to save on fuel costs, but to help save the environment as well.

FPL this fall will add five new hybrid trucks to its vehicle fleet, bringing the company’s total to eight. FPL was the first company in the United States to put an industrial hybrid into service in May 2006. That FPL hybrid truck is operating in Palm Beach County today and already exceeds the EPA’s 2010 diesel emissions standards. In addition to the Palm Beach County truck, FPL hybrid trucks are on the road in Miami-Dade County and Sarasota.

FPL’s hybrid trucks are engineered to use 30 percent to 55 percent less fuel than standard trucks, but the benefits don’t end there. FPL uses a biodiesel fuel mix–80 percent diesel fuel mixed with 20 percent virgin soybean oil–to eliminate another 20 percent of the petroleum a conventional truck would use. The fuel also significantly reduces the trucks’ tailpipe emissions.

FPL line specialists can operate a hybrid truck’s bucket using just the electric motors for as long as two hours and then recharge them in three minutes. The trucks save FPL an average of 10 gallons of gasoline per day, roughly $30 per day, per truck.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company is also taking a lead in introducing hybrid trucks into utility fleets. PG&E is one of the first utilities in the nation to test a new diesel-electric utility service truck with the potential to avoid the release of two tons of carbon dioxide per year.

The hybrid bucket truck, manufactured by International and Eaton Corporation, is conducting routine and emergency overhead line work in PG&E’s San Francisco service area that would normally be done by a standard diesel-powered bucket truck. Independent test results involving the type of truck being used in the pilot, measured against driving and work cycles typical of the utility industry, showed a 40 percent to 60 percent decrease in the amount of fuel used. At $3 per gallon for fuel, the potential savings ranges from $4,500 to $5,500 a year per vehicle.

The PG&E hybrid trucks will be assessed for one year as part of a comprehensive national program. During the yearlong test, the participating fleets will also work with the supplier team as it finalizes its production design. If the hybrid truck performance meets expectations, initial production could begin in late 2007. At that time, the hybrid vehicle could serve as a replacement for traditional utility trucks, as well as applications such as tree trimming, regional delivery, beverage vehicles and shuttle buses.

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