Case Study

Clark Public Utilities

Clark PUD Upfits 40 Units and Reduces Idling by 25%
Application Goal
To provide exceptionally reliable equipment, reduce fuel dependency, and lower transportation emissions in that order.
Vancouver, Washington, United States
Vancouver, Washington, United States

Clark Public Utilities identified a need to provide exceptionally reliable equipment, reduce dependency on fuel, and lower emissions within their fleet, and came to us at GRIP Idle Management Systems searching for a solution. These goals were adopted based on the possibilities of what Clark PUD could accomplish when using an idle reduction technology.

An interview with Paul L. Chamberlain, Fleet Services Manager at Clark Public Utilities, breaks down his goals, strategies, outcomes, and perspective having implemented the GRIP Idle Management System within his fleet.

What idle reduction strategies and technologies does the Clark PUD fleet currently have in place, and how did you determine which would be best suited to your needs?

Our strategy is to reduce unnecessary idling with the goal of increasing equipment reliability while reducing fuel consumption, and lowering our emission output. We prioritize integration of Idle Management Systems on to equipment that has been exhibiting high levels idling while demonstrating high levels of mechanical failures due to idling. Our decision in determining what technology we would use had to:

  • ensure the system would not impede the work required of the equipment;
  • ensure that the operator would still have access to basic comforts such as heat and air conditioning during extreme conditions;
  • be programmable, cost-effective and capable of managing numerous inputs and outputs;

We are currently using two different systems one for medium duty and a more robust system for heavy-duty trucks. After a lot of research and development and the support and willingness of our vendors to work with us, both technologies meet our needs.

Does Clark PUD have any specific idle reduction goals?

Our goals were not to reduce idling for the sake of idle reduction. Our goals derived from the outcomes of using idle reduction technology; what we wanted to accomplish was to provide exceptionally reliable equipment, reduce our dependency of fuel, and lower our transportation emissions in that order.

Which vehicles and equipment in your fleet are using idle reduction technology?

We now have 40 over-the-road vehicles and trucks upfitted with Idle Management Systems with more units in the process of installation. For a small fleet of 265 units with 175 of them being over-the-road, this is a big step. Our priority over the last few years has been upfitting all of our heavy-duty aerial line trucks, medium duty support, and flagger trucks, and are now integrating Idle Management Systems on our first responder serviceman trucks. Most of our light-duty vehicles are older hybrids, though we now have some EV vehicles in our fleet. In the coming year we plan on adding a few plug-in light-duty trucks as this technology is proving to be viable and cost-effective. This idle-reducing technology, use of hybrids, EV/Plug-ins, and renewable diesel proves that our goals are attainable.

Has your initial 10% reduction changed or improved since 2014, since using the GRIP System?

Yes. Now that we have over 40 units upfitted with Idle Management Systems, we are averaging about a 25% reduction within the trucks upfitted with idle management, with a fleet average of about 15% overall. Not all of it has been as the result of technology but has been a combination of technology and employees making an effort to shut their vehicles off when they do not need to idle.

Do you see utility fleets leaning more toward technology to help reduce idling, or do you see them implementing operator behavior-based strategies?

I am hearing about utilities using a combination of strategies. Some utility fleets are letting technology be the driver while others use policy and driver behavior strategies — and others are using a combination of policy, driver behavior, and technology. The approach used will be dependent on workforce culture, and the plan a fleet manager feels can provide them the most success within their workplace. In any case, there is more of a focus to support Idle Management Systems, and more fleet managers are making an effort to communicate to the end user about idle management.

What advice do you have for fleets that may be looking into technology to reduce idling?

I would tell them that it is imperative to know what you need and are expecting from an Idle Management System. Many utility fleets are starting to focus on idle management now, and the technology is there, readily available and getting better with vendors who are more than willing to work with you toward a solution that will meet your needs.

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