Bucket Truck Blues

Servicing trucks that are three different vehicles.

"We have other corporate initiatives such as safety, training and budgets," says Cacciotti.

"We have an eclectic fleet spread over 16 counties and eight maintenance shops," says Grace. "One shop only has one guy and sometimes, he's out helping the operations side."

He adds, "If it's a piece of equipment, you have some showstoppers such as a Gradall, a bulldozer, etc. When it goes down, you've got four people out of work. Anything that is the primary piece of equipment such as an excavator or a crane gets top priority."

SRP's Ybarra and Wood offer this list, "Our aging workforce, technical training, price of fuel, and now, cost of tires for our fleet are our major challenges."


Control over expenses and maintenance items keep these managers and their operations thinking outside the toolbox to improve ROI. SFWMD's biggest expense is brakes and then tires, but fuel is the single largest expense for both Toronto Hydro and SRP.

SRP's principal engineer finance person Bob Fedock explains that SRP currently "hedges" its vehicle fuel needs for an entire budget year.

"The year's fuel budget is established using projected monthly quantities of fuel needed and applying the unit costs for that fuel based on the prices in the commodities market," says Fedock. "Once the budget is approved, SRP places orders in the commodities market for delivery of the estimated fuel needs for each month at the market price. Prior to the first of the month, SRP sells the fuel contract for that month in the commodities market. If the price at the time of the sale has gone up since the contract was purchased, SRP will make money on the hedge, but will also be paying higher costs for fuel. If the price has gone down, SRP will lose money on the hedge but will be paying lower costs for fuel. Hedging reduces the risk of large swings in the fuel budget."

How do you best achieve the return on investment for your fleet?

"It comes down to how good your specifications are," says Grace. "We discuss the options as far as repair vs. replace. The property management group that disposes of our used equipment now uses eBay with great success."

Ybarra and Wood explain that they involve the users in the acquisition process to ensure the right equipment/vehicles are purchased for the work applications. Also, they ensure resources are available to maintain an effective preventative maintenance program. "Due to our PM program, we get a good price at auction when we retire our equipment," says Ybarra.

Ybarra adds, "It took approximately one year to develop a written PM standard for our technicians to use and follow. There were several issues we had to deal with such as PM intervals needed to be correct and adjusted based on oil samples, to train our technicians on proper PM inspections, and to continue to review and update the PM program as engines, transmission and hydraulic oils changed. By performing and following this process, our equipment breakdowns are minimal and equipment availability is almost 100 percent for our internal customers at the start of the work day."


We Recommend