Balancing Out the Future

Choosing Energy Provider Is Among Many Pressing Issues
Electric truck at charging station
Numerous heavy-duty trucks will rely on the EV infrastructure in the future. Knowing what fleets want in terms of power and truck usage is vital to charting a path forward. (Scharfsinn86/Getty Images)

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One of the most interesting lessons I’ve learned in my career has been watching how industries find the right balance in communicating their wants and needs. In terms of trucking and logistics, we have heard plenty of talk about a future filled with electric and autonomous vehicles. We’ve also listened to the excitement about the innovation of the established technologies such as the alternative fuels and fleet management technology, and how it will benefit the industry at large.

That’s why it was interesting to attend the 2024 TMC Annual Meeting and Transportation Technology Exhibition last month. For me, it’s a boots-on-the-ground feel of how the industry — the technicians, maintenance managers — is absorbing the incoming improvements ahead.

For example, as a world of EVs is creeping into reality, there has been plenty of feedback to address the near-term hurdles when it comes to adoption rates. However, the conversations at TMC have been geared to answer, “How are we going to fix them?” Or more bluntly, “Where do we start?” Plenty of pain points have been identified, but one of the more glaring spots has been the subject of choosing an energy provider.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there are nearly 3,000 electric utilities in the U.S. As with light- and medium-duty vehicles, there will be a rush of heavy-duty trucks that will rely on the EV infrastructure in the future. Knowing what fleets want in terms of power and truck usage is vital to establishing a steady road ahead. 



Also, fleets are forced to keep the long-term vision focused on where they would stand when electrification reaches a point of critical mass. Understanding the needs to make this happen will go a long way as operators find a viable path.

As it looks toward that big picture, the technician segment also looks inward to how shop bay operations can maximize efforts while not losing efficiency. For example, during its press event at the conference highlighting its State of the Industry report, Fullbay CEO Patrick McKittrick noted that point, as he described how some shop bay owners can work effectively in their business but not necessarily on the business. He touched on those simple, boots-on-the-ground issues, such as technician recruitment/retention, and crafting and following a budget plan.

As themes of moving the industry forward were highlighted at the conference through the promise of EVs and alternative fuels, there was time to go over the basics, where most of the industry thus far is located in terms of needs and wants.

Both aforementioned concepts, large and small, are noteworthy for industry leaders to stay ahead of, and at least, acknowledging them, so to put its members on the right path. As we are told quite often, EVs are coming, whether we like them or not, although it’s hard for some to put their heads around ideas that have not fully matured, while there are the “blocking and tackling” issues that still need addressing.

Seeing how this will balance out, the biggest lesson from TMC was knowing that while it’s important to ready the industry for the latest and greatest, it also necessary to explore the realities of most maintenance managers who are living in the here and now. Watch this space.

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