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Covering fatigue risk, safety systems and more at EUFMC

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The educational program for the annual Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference (EUFMC) is based heavily on input from attendees and is designed to address the informational needs of utility fleet professionals. Therefore, it came as no surprise that the 2017 conference included several sessions on safety-related topics.

Addressing an issue that is common in all types of fleets, Silvano Angelone, project manager and human fatigue consultant at Caterpillar Inc., provided a closer look at fatigue risk management.

“The sources of fatigue can be physiological based on sleep profiles, medical issues, genetics and even time of day,” Angelone related. “Fatigue can also be behavioral depending on a person’s diet, sleep, exercise and activities, as well as operational in terms of schedules, time on task, procedures and policies and workplace design.”

The effect of fatigue on performance is obvious, according to Angelone. Accuracy, timing and attention degrade, lower standards become acceptable, multi-tasking is more difficult and the ability to integrate information is lost. Additionally, performance becomes inconsistent, social interactions decline, attitude and mood deteriorate, involuntary lapses into sleep can occur and the ability to reason is impaired.

Angelone went on to list essential questions that fleets can ask to help identify fatigues issues and develop solutions:

  • Do you conduct any root cause analysis on incidents or near misses?
  • Are all levels of the organization involved in the process?
  • Have you measured fatigue risk?
  • Do you have the right staffing and work patterns in place?
  • Do you have effective controls to mitigate risk for those employees who are most exposed?
  • Is the workplace designed to help mitigate fatigue?
  • Do you provide training or peer monitoring?
  • Do you use any fatigue monitoring tools?

Caterpillar, Angelone also noted, offers technology-enabled fatigue mitigation solutions like the Cat Driver Safety System (DSS), Cat Smartband and Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool (FAST) and can help fleets implement programs to analyze fatigue risk and identify opportunities for improvement.

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Technologies aimed at improving safety were also on the EUFMC agenda in a session on Safety Systems for Fleet Vehicles. Mark Melletat, director of field operations at Meritor WABCO, explained the manufacturer’s SmartTrac Electronic Stability Control system, which continuously monitors a vehicle’s rollover threshold and activates to assist in controlling the vehicle when the threshold is exceeded. Also detailed was OnGuardActive, a radar-based solution that provides active braking and forward collision warning.

At Freightliner Trucks, according to Karen Garrett of Freightliner product planning on-highway product strategy, safety systems today are reducing several types of accidents, including lane departure, improper lane change, unsafe speed and following distance, rollover and rear-end collision events. “Safety systems of tomorrow,” Garrett added, “include active lane and blind spot assistance solutions and, ultimately, connected vehicles that are capable of making data based driving decisions.”

Fred Andersky, director of customer solutions for controls at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, was also on the Safety Systems for Fleet Vehicles panel. “The advanced technologies of today are the foundation technologies for the future,” he said. “With more information we are enabling earlier situational analysis and intervention, but drivers are still involved so it takes more than just technology.”

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Safety Driving Innovation, another educational session at EUFMC, featured Joe Suarez, director of fleet services at Florida Power and Light Co. (FP&L), a utility that operates in 30 states and six Canadian provinces with a fleet of nearly 3,600 vehicles.

“In 2015, two boom failures challenged our company and our safety culture,” Suarez related. “Employee injuries led to trust issues so we began looking for a ‘smart’ aerial device to detect boom overload conditions.” The result at FP&L, he added, are new systems for aerial devices from two manufacturers that alert operators to overload conditions with audio and visual warnings.

EUFMC, in addition to its educational program this year—Inspiring Excellence in Utility Fleet Professionals—offers roundtable discussions on common challenges and solutions and networking opportunities with industry peers and the manufacturer/vendor community as well equipment demonstrations and exhibits. For more information, visit eufmc.com.

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