A public works fleet is more than plows and dump trucks. Support vehicles include service vehicles equipped for tasks from changing tires and performing field repairs to hauling bulldozers. To learn what's new in these work vehicles, nothing beats the Work Truck Show presented annually by the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA).
This year, the emphasis was on “going green.” Fleets can demonstrate their commitment to their communities and environment while reaping operational benefits from alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles.
TRUCKS OF THE (NEAR) FUTURE
Named best new product by journalists covering the show, Modec Zero Emission Vehicle has an excellent cab-and-chassis unit. The English manufacturer has set up operations in the United States and crew cab versions will be available soon.
The Modec is powered by 2,400 pounds of lithium-iron phosphate batteries, the same chemistry used in the award-winning Chevrolet Volt concept car. It can haul a 4,400-pound load at highway speeds for up to 100 miles before needing recharging, mostly done at night, during low-demand periods. It qualifies for most, of not all, state and federal incentives including Clean Cities, which promotes alternative fuels, advanced vehicles, fuel blends, fuel economy, hybrid vehicles, and idle reduction.
Modec has no trouble getting in and out of worksites, and is able to navigate a 33% grade empty and an 18% grade fully loaded. I drove one in Atlanta city traffic and found it quick, maneuverable, and responsive. Being electric, it doesn't idle and is dead quiet. Its futuristic design makes an excellent platform to promote a department's environmental consciousness.
Another futuristic electric vehicle is Unicell Body Co.'s Quicksider, with its continuous one-piece fiberglass body. A prototype is in service as an in-city delivery truck with Canadian courier company Purolator, but the truck is adaptable to many service roles. The suspension lowers for easy ramp access to the inside of the vehicle. It can be configured with racks and carts.
Dueco Inc. and Odyne Corp. teamed to introduce a plug-in hybrid diesel-electric vehicle that substitutes electric power for hydraulics to operate all boom and auxiliary functions. Electricity powers a 20,000-BTU air conditioner and up to eight hours of vehicle operating time. Recharging can be done by the engine driving a generator, but is best done by plugging-in at night. The hybrid system qualifies for most incentives.
For tool management, Ford Motor Co. showcased Tool Link, coming this fall. It is based on radio frequency identification tags developed in conjunction with DeWalt Industrial Tool Co. If you've ever had a service call aborted because a tool was left behind and you had to turn back to get it, you'll appreciate Tool Link. As you plan a job, Tool Link helps determine the tools needed. As each tool is loaded in the truck bed, it is electronically “logged-in” and recorded for the job. Before leaving, it checks what's on board against what is required. When the job is done, Tool Link checks items back in, so no tool gets left behind. To help deter theft, Ford teamed with Master Lock Co. LLC to develop a heavy-duty cable locking system with shackle clips.
Clean Fuel USA introduced its Liquid Propane Injection fuel system for General Motors light- and medium-duty 6.0-and 8.1-liter gasoline engines, and for Ford 5.4-liter engines. On an energy-equivalent basis, propane costs about $1/gallon less than gasoline. Propane burns cleaner, requiring less maintenance. Added rebates and other incentives are available for using this alternative fuel.
One of the most innovative products at the show was the Ultimate Field Office (UFO) from mobileDUZ LLC. The unit converts the space behind the driver and passenger seats of extended-cab pickup trucks into a fully functional mobile office.