With more than 1,300 units in its transportation fleet, there are many things to consider when the Omaha Public Power District prepares equipment and vehicles for duty.
Rain, snow, or shine, bucket trucks, digger derricks and utility trailers must all be ready to go to work when needed. Keeping this equipment ready is a job that falls to OPPD’s Transportation Department. In the winter, frigid temperatures and equipment exposed to the elements pose particular challenges.
Winterizing the fleet begins with preventative and regular maintenance throughout the year, said Mike Donahue, manager of Transportation & Construction Equipment for OPPD. The maintenance done to the equipment is similar to what you might do for your personal vehicle: checking coolant levels, tires and brakes on a regular basis.
Donahue said the challenges of winter come with vehicles who run on diesel fuel. These vehicles are outfitted with block heaters to keep the engines warm when subjected to frigid conditions.
“Especially if you know a storm or cold spell is coming, that’s when you make sure your fuel tank is topped off and you’re plugged in,” Donahue said. “That gives you the best opportunity to go when you need to go, especially in an emergency, storm or outage.”
Many of OPPD’s vehicles park on job sites for periods of time. Drivers and equipment operators use fuel additive and heat engines to ensure the equipment is in optimum working order.
“It’s good to have personnel looking at these things because we as a department can’t go to every job site and check on equipment,” Donahue said.
The service schedule for vehicles depends on their usage time, Donahue said. For example, trailers are serviced yearly while bucket trucks used daily by troubleshooters are serviced once per month. Other trucks in the fleet are serviced every other month or every two months. Service frequency depends on the number of miles put on the vehicle and how many hours it’s been in service.
Mark Donham, field supervisor for Transportation & Construction Equipment, said equipment in OPPD’s south rural territory are serviced more frequently due to the higher number of miles they drive to cover the service area.
Many times, transportation personnel will go into the field to make a repair. Donahue said if a repair can be done in the field, the parts can be transported there and the repair can be done safely, personnel fix it in place.
This practice is especially important during restoration efforts.
“We’ve gone all the way to the Kansas border because we have lines down there,” Donham said.
This infographic details the pieces of OPPD’s fleet.
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