It’s no secret that finding ways to lower costs is a key to gaining a competitive advantage. That subject was an important part of the educational program of last year’s Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference (EUFMC), which was attended by more than 120 fleet representatives from investor-owned electric utilities, electric cooperatives and electrical contractors in the U.S and Canada, and it’s poised to make a return this year.
In one EUFMC session, several fleet managers addressed how key process indicators (KPIs) and reporting capabilities are enabling improvements in their operations. Jim Labudde, superintendent of fleet assets at Entergy, said that the top two reports influencing improvement in the fleet are proactive maintenance reports on fueling and control module data for engines, transmissions and chassis.
“Daily reports are also used to generate work requests, and monthly and quarterly reports are used to view progress and opportunities,” Labudde added. “The impact of this data is seen in maintenance costs, and in crew, vehicle and mechanic productive hours.”
A primary area of focus at Entergy, Labudde related, is on high-impact codes for cooling systems, crankcases, aftertreatment systems, transmissions and electrical, fuel and brake systems. An example of the successful use of data on cooling systems involved recording as many as 196 overheating events per month on more than 600 vehicles.
“By identifying multiple root causes and implementing corrective actions, failures were reduced by 80% and related engine repair costs were decreased by $220,000 in 2016,” Labudde reported. “We also redeployed crew and mechanic hours by catching failures before significant damage could occur to other parts.”
Entergy’s Fuel Audit Reports have addressed fuel consumption and management costs through better accountability, Labudde added. “The system tracks fuel type and matches gallons dispensed with gallons accepted into a vehicle,” he said. “By integrating the telemetry system with fuel data to electronically audit transactions based on time and location of both the asset and fueling station, each month 95% of all transactions are now audited and only the remaining 5% are sent to a supervisor for review. This enabled redeploying approximately 2,652 annual front line supervisor hours and identifying four cases of fuel theft.”
At Consumers Energy, noted Kyle Jones, manager, a new goal-focused approach has led to the evaluation of cost per class unit, mechanic efficiency, scheduling effectiveness and weekly schedule completion. “Based on analysis of the average time per PM, our mechanic efficiency, the percentages of overtime worked, productive time and repeat repairs are better,” Jones reported.
“We’ve also improved uptime,” he continued. “Unit availability has increased by deploying standardized equipment based on the number of days a unit was unavailable within the first 18 months.”
Arun Chickmenahalli, fleet technical services manager at Southern Co., said KPIs driven by telematics for the company’s Georgia Power fleet focus on safety, efficiency, utilization and productivity, cost reduction, fuel consumption, vehicle failures, preventative maintenance, driver performance and customer satisfaction.
“The systems enhance the ability to locate vehicles and employees, and direct emergency personnel more quickly and precisely if needed for a safety incident,” he said. “Additionally, they provide information on safe vehicle operating behaviors and help find ways to make improvements in efficiency and reduce costs.”
In 2018, attendees at the annual EUFMC will hear more about topics related to fleet management. The conference, scheduled for June 3-6 in Williamsburg, Va., will feature an educational program on “Strategies for Managing a Safe, Productive and Cost Effective Fleet.” The program will include presentations by fleet executives, manufacturer representatives and industry experts.
EUFMC also features Roundtables in which fleet executives address common challenges by sharing best practices and working with suppliers to find solutions, Equipment Drive-Through Demonstrations with educational and technical presentations by suppliers, and an Equipment Show with more than 60 displays of vehicles, equipment, components and a wide range of technologies and services. For more information, visit the EUFMC website.