With 90 fleet managers from in-vestor-owned electric utilities in the U.S. and Canada in attendance at its 54th annual gathering, the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference (EUFMC), which was held in June in Williamsburg, Va., attracted a record number of attendees. Rich Mento, Fleet Manager – Electric System at United Illuminating Co. who is serving as this year’s EUFMC President, attributes the growth of the conference to the value it has for fleet managers. This year, a big part of the draw for new and returning attendees was a range of presentations under the theme, “Managing Your Fleet for Operational Excellence.”
One session in particular that was of great interest for its industry-wide appeal was “Vehicle Availability and Benchmarking Downtime,” presented by Chris Shaffer, partner, Utilimarc, a fleet benchmarking and consulting firm. During EUFMC, Shaffer outlined a plan to collect data on utility fleets by developing a standardized measurement, reporting and collection method.
“There’s no consensus today on data collection and reporting standards,” Shaffer noted. “If we can collectively define service transactions and measure mean time between service, we can use that information to address the challenges of equipment reliability and cost reduction.
“Equipment reliability is one of the most effective ways to reduce fleet expenses,” Shaffer continued. “Fewer repairs translate into less cost for parts and labor, smaller facilities with fewer technicians and potentially smaller fleet size. The challenge is that no two utilities collect or report data, or track and define equipment reliability or downtime, the same way.”
Utilimarc, Shaffer related, would like to “standardize the measure” by determining how many service transactions take place per year, and break out scheduled preventive maintenance and unscheduled service for vehicles, trailers and equipment. Excluding administrative costs for fueling and licensing as well as accident expenses, the goal is to standardize mean time between service for utility fleets by determining how many days “on average” take place between service and repair intervals.
For the second and third phases of its plan, Utilimarc plans to break mean time between service into scheduled and unscheduled work and track out of service time for both categories. Then, mean time between service measurements would be developed for areas such as Cab and Chassis and Mounted Equipment, among others.
If successful, Utilimarc’s plan would undoubtedly lead to the development of a very valuable set of information for fleets to access and utilize to improve their operations. What remains to be seen is whether fleets can and will share their data.
What utility fleet managers are very willing to share, as evidenced by the discussions that took place at EUFMC, are similar concerns and solutions. Helping attract the record number of attendees to EUFMC in 2007, for example, were presentations on Measuring Fleet Value, Best Practice Fleet Sizing, Selecting a Software Provider, 2007 Engine & Fuel Issues, Hybrid Vehicles, and updates on legislative and regulatory issues, and the latest developments in industry equipment standards.
Joining the record number of fleet managers at EUFMC were over 200 representatives from more than 70 manufacturers and service providers, many of which showcased their latest products. The objective of the conference is the dissemination of information pertaining to the procurement, application, operation and maintenance of equipment used by electric utilities. In that respect alone, it lives up to its billing. EUFMC’s 55th annual conference will be held June 15-18, 2008. For more information, visit www.eufmc.com