Winch line plays a critical role in utility vehicles being able to perform their tasks. When it comes to winch lines, fleet managers have a great many choices. Many utilities are choosing lines made of synthetic rope fibers instead of wire. Winch lines come in a wide variety of fibers and different constructions, and utility fleet managers have much to consider in making a safe and effective choice that will be a good fit for their fleets.

commericial truck winchWork Procedures and Truck Strength

It is important to seek manufacturer input on your choice of winch line, as it relates to the capacity of the trucks in your fleet and the kind of work they must do on the job. Breaking strength is an important factor to consider, and you must pick a winch line that has five times greater breaking strength than the rated capacities of the truck for lifting and working load. The absorption capability of a winch line, or its ability to absorb energy from dynamic loads, is another necessary consideration.

Choosing a Fiber

Your choice of fiber will depend on the amount of heavy work done by your fleet, the climate of your region, and budget constraints. Utility fleets require winch lines with fibers that can withstand difficult environmental conditions. Winch lines made of synthetic fibers contain weight-bearing cores of varying strength, depending on the type of material used in the core. If your fleet does a lot of heavy pulling, you will require a winch line with a tough weight-bearing core. The goal is to balance these various factors and the needs of your fleet with a cost that works with your budget.

Choosing a Construction

The factor that has the most bearing on choosing a construction for your winch line is the climate in which your fleet must do its work. Within that picture, you must examine the range of environmental conditions to which the winch line will be subject on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis and how much abrasion will likely occur to the line. Different kinds of fiber constructions are available, ranging from double-braided rope, which tends to be suitable for high-abrasive environments, to single-braided rope which tends to be more suitable for low-abrasive environments.

An increasing number of utility companies are standardizing their choices of winch lines across their fleets. Standardization of winch lines can help simplify training for crews as well as the procedures for truck maintenance. Fleet managers must carefully consider multiple factors when making their choices regarding winch lines, and it is important, as well, to heed manufacturer recommendations.


Electrical linemen face a variety of potential hazards while on the job, not the least of which are dangers posed by traffic. Work zones must be clearly marked by signs or cones and the traffic routed away from the workers’ safe area as appropriate, but as long as linemen are working in a traffic zone, dangers remain. To improve traffic safety, careful attention must be paid to the job site, as well as to practicing safe operations when using equipment like bucket trucks.

Utility Fleet Sales and RentalTraffic Hazards

Many of the traffic hazards faced by electrical linemen are posed by drivers on the roadway on which the work zone is situated. On most major thoroughfares, the number of vehicles on the road at any given time has increased, and this factor must be considered. Sometimes workers do not set out sufficient warning signs and cones to alert drivers and safely control the flow of traffic. Other times, workers set up proper traffic control implements, but drivers still do not heed them, whether because they are distracted by items like cell phones or their vision is obstructed by frost on windows in cold weather or glare from the sun on a clear day.

Equipment Hazards

Bucket trucks are excellent tools when used by qualified operators and linemen to do their jobs, but special safety issues must be considered when they are used in traffic. One common situation is when the boom on a bucket truck extends over the road at an angle so the worker in the bucket can carry out his duties on power poles and lines. In this situation, there must be someone outside the bucket to control the flow of traffic.

Traffic Safety Planning

Proper traffic safety planning can make all the difference between a job that is safely completed and a job during which disaster occurs. Electrical linemen must come up with a work plan. First, crews must detail how long they expect to spend on the job, what the traffic flow is like at the area, and what the size and nature of the safe zone should be. Working at night poses additional hazards, and the possible presence of pedestrians should also be taken into consideration. Weather should also be part of traffic safety preparation, as well as rescue contingency plans.

In planning for traffic safety on a job site, it is vital that managers of electrical linemen crews work to identify the possible dangers and come up with plans to minimize and, where possible, eliminate those dangers. Local laws and safety regulations must be followed at all times. The safety of utility crews on roadways depends on careful job planning and adherence to proper safety protocol, as well as using considering the equipment that will help keep than safe such as insulated bucket trucks. Learn more at this website

How Hydraulic Systems Work

Posted: June 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hydraulic systems work by means of a simple principle, which states that pressure applied to a fluid that is confined will be transmitted throughout that fluid and will act on all parts of the vessel that enclose the fluid. This principle translates into a tremendous capacity to do work in a simple, efficient manner, without need for the intricate mechanical gearing, transmissions, and linkages you might otherwise require to accomplish the same amount of work.

hydraulic systemsForce Multiplier

Hydraulics work as a force multiplier. You put a certain amount of pressure in, then you get much more power out than you originally put into the system. The reason hydraulics work is due to the properties of liquid, which for practical use in hydraulic systems are usually a kind of oil. The fluid is virtually incompressible, which means that any force applied is transmitted throughout the fluid and that the transmitted energy can then be harnessed to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. The smaller pressure that is initially applied gets multiplied into a considerably larger force.

Components of a Hydraulic System

A basic hydraulic system has four components. The first is the reservoir, which contains the hydraulic fluid. The reservoir must also allow the settling of any contaminants and help to release moisture or air from the fluid. The second component, the pump, is where mechanical energy, provided by the motion of the hydraulic fluid, becomes hydraulic energy. The third component is comprised of the valves, which control the flow of the fluid. The final component, the actuators, is the place in the system where the hydraulic energy is transformed back into mechanical energy.

Practical Applications

Just imagine all the gearing and the transmission systems you would require to raise a bucket on a bucket truck if the vehicle were not equipped with a hydraulic system. The practical applications of hydraulic systems can be found in the raw power and work potential they provide to real world needs. The force multiplier aspect of hydraulics is a big part of the reason why the weight of a person’s foot on a brake pedal can bring a 3,000 pound car to a screeching halt. The principles of hydraulics make it simple to adjust the components of the system in order to obtain the power that is required for a particular machine or application.

When used on vehicles like bucket trucks to do load-lifting work, hydraulic systems have distinct advantages. They offer tremendous power, maneuverability, and flexibility, making them excellent systems for use in many applications across numerous industries.

Hydraulics In Action

Using GPS on Bucket Trucks

Posted: June 6, 2014 in Business

Utility Fleet Transport

Fleet managers might well find it advantageous to install GPS units on their bucket trucks. GPS and navigation systems on utility vehicles can be helpful on many levels for fleet managers and utility workers alike, improving both the efficiency of the fleet as a whole and the safety of workers.

Fleet Managers

Fleet managers will reap benefits from having GPS and navigation systems installed on utility vehicles in that they can more carefully keep track of whether or not workers need to improve their efficiency. GPS systems show the driving habits of workers, the routes they travel to reach their work zones, how long they take to get there, and the speed at which they are traveling.

Utility Workers

Utility workers will benefit from having GPS installed on their bucket trucks in that they will be able to more easily find their way to job sites. Having firm routes to follow to work zones without having to worry about getting lost saves time and money. Route-planning with a GPS also enhances worker safety, since more of their attention can go toward traffic flow rather than trying to figure out routes on the fly. Workers can also use GPS systems to discover the quickest route to a job site, which saves time and fuel and lowers stress, giving them more time on the actual job and less time spent traveling to and fro. Used Terex Aerial Truck

Storm Response

Having GPS and navigation systems available for use during severe weather response can greatly enhance the safety and productivity of utility fleets and workers in the aftermath of a storm, whether hurricanes, tornadoes, or snow and ice storms. GPS makes it easier for managers to send workers to the places where they are most needed to help with ongoing restoration efforts

Bottom Line

Having data on driving habits helps with finding out how to make a utility fleet more cost-effective and productive, saving money on fuel and on insurance. GPS systems also let utility managers keep track of fleet equipment with much greater precision. The price of GPS and navigation systems have continued to come down in recent years, and they can also bring a great deal of value to your day-to-day fleet operation, which helps with bottom-line considerations.

GPS makes an excellent, cost-effective enhancement for any utility fleet. Bucket trucks and GPS systems make a top-notch combination for utility fleets that seek continuous improvement by striving to be as safe and productive as possible.

Proper safety protocol includes inspecting a bucket truck prior to getting started with a job. Each day before the truck is put to work, its operator must examine its components and make sure that the truck can function properly and safely. Visual inspections must be done of the boom and the bucket, as well as the hydraulic system of the truck.

new and used Altec BucketThe Boom and the Bucket

First, an operator needs to inspect the boom and the bucket to make sure that the fiberglass components are in good shape. The fiberglass components are vital, since they work to insulate operators, helping to protect them when they are working with energized power lines and other equipment. The fiberglass on the boom and the bucket should not be cracked, nor should it exhibit crazing, a pattern of cracks that can result when the boom or the bucket impacts another object.

Take time, as well, to clean the boom and the bucket with a cloth that’s approved by the equipment manufacturer. Wiping surfaces clean and making sure they are free of dirt and debris can help reduce the ability of current to energize these surfaces. Last but not least, make sure that none of the parts and components that make up the boom and the bucket are rusted or loose.

The Hydraulic System

Next, an operator needs to conduct a visual inspection of the truck’s hydraulic system. The hoses should be carefully checked for leaks as well as for wear and tear that could compromise function. The ground underneath the truck should be examined, as well, to see whether there are leaks. The hydraulic fluid should be checked, both to ensure that it’s at the appropriate level and also to make sure that it doesn’t contain contaminants which could interfere with the system and indicate a problem with components getting bound up.

Contaminants in the hydraulic fluid could cause the fluid to conduct electricity, as in the case of metal shavings. Visual inspection of the fluid is also important in that its appearance can serve as a clue that something is wrong. If the hydraulic oil appears milky, then moisture is present in the fluid, which could also cause it to become conductive.

Visual inspections of a bucket truck are a crucial part of safety checks before embarking on a job. Should a truck operator discover problems with the safe functioning of a vehicle, the situation should be reported to a supervisor. Either the truck should be repaired, or another truck should be assigned for the job.

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Workers who use bucket trucks to do their jobs need to be aware of the possible dangers of electrocution. Electrical linemen need to be highly trained and knowledgeable, both with regard to the functioning of their bucket trucks and aerial devices and the potential hazards of their jobs, so that they can protect themselves and use their equipment in the safest possible way.

The Importance of Insulation

It’s extremely dangerous to take aerial devices that are not insulated close to energized wires or cables. The aerial devices that electrical linemen use to carry out their job duties must be insulated, and the insulation on the components must be well-maintained. It would result in a fatal injury if a worker comes in contact with an energized wire or cable while standing in an aerial device that’s either non-insulated or poorly insulated. His body could serve as a pathway to ground.

Fiberglass Platform

The fiberglass platform, or the bucket on the aerial device should have an insulated liner that’s in good shape in order to provide protection for the lower part of a worker’s body. But an insulated liner in the bucket can’t protect the upper parts of a worker’s body, should his arms or hands come in contact with conductors and grounded parts of the equipment. People who are working in the bucket must never touch grounded wires, cables, or components, since severe electrocution would be the result.

The Boom Arm

As long as the aerial device’s fiberglass boom arm is in good shape and is also clean and dry, it should serve as protection against grounding, but it needs to measure at least 40 inches from the tip to the base when it’s extended. Workers in the aerial device are not protected against grounding should they make bodily contact with an energized wire or cable or other grounded equipment. If the metal on the boom arm comes in contact with an energized wire or cable, it will energize the whole truck, rendering it extremely dangerous to all people who are near and could come in contact with it.

Hydraulic Fluid

The hydraulic fluid that’s used to power the boom arm must be free of contaminants, since water, brake fluid, and other contaminants are capable of conducting electricity. Hydraulic fluid that’s used in boom arms needs to be regularly tested to make sure it’s safe for use.

Insulated components on aerial devices provide a certain amount of protection from the hazards of an electrical lineman’s job. It is crucial that electrical linemen be familiar with all the possible hazards of their job and of the equipment so that they can maximize the benefits of insulated equipment and perform their duties as safely as possible.

bucket truck safety

Planning is an important part of helping to ensure safety while on the job with a bucket truck. On reaching a job site, operators need to take stock of the area and the situation, since no two jobs are ever exactly alike. Once a plan is in place, workers need to do their best to follow it while also remaining mindful of how things could change. Planning combined with alertness will help workers prevent emergency situations, and also help them to respond better to emergencies, should they occur.


Situations Always Differ

Planning and taking stock of a situation before the start of a job is important, since conditions vary from job to job. Factors like traffic flow and weather will be different on any given day. The equipment with which workers perform their jobs can vary, as well. Before starting a job, it’s important to work to become aware of potential hazards and work to minimize those hazards so they won’t cause problems.

Getting Set Up

To get set up to work, it’s a good idea to position the bucket truck on the job site to where it will not have to be moved again once work begins. That’s the ideal, though, and it might not work in reality. A truck should be moved if it would require a worker to extend himself too much to get the job done. If a worker overextends himself, he is at much greater risk for injury. When the truck is positioned, cones and signs need to be set out as needed to alert motorists to the job site and give workers sufficient space.

Contingency Planning

Contingency planning is vital in case an emergency situation arises. Employees are required, per OSHA regulations, to hold a briefing prior to starting a job. As part of the briefing, workers need to discuss the particular conditions at work for that job, including equipment workers will use, procedures they will follow, relevant safety measures, possible hazards, and steps they will take if an emergency occurs.

Emergency Equipment

Setting out emergency equipment is an important part of planning for a job. Workers also need to test the communications radio, to make sure it is functioning and can be used in the event of an emergency. A pair of rubber gloves should be laid out, too, in case one of the workers needs to make contact with the truck while it’s in close proximity to energized power lines and equipment during an emergency, such as operating the boom or using the radio.

Bucket Safety

While a worker maneuvers the bucket into position from inside, another worker must be stationed on the ground to observe. A person standing on the ground will see the work environment from a different perspective and angle than the person in the bucket and can potentially warn the bucket operator about hazards that aren’t as easy to spot from inside the bucket.

Proper planning is critical to job safety, but it’s also important to stay on top of changing conditions while on the job. It’s this combination of planning and awareness that will work together to make the job at hand as safe as possible for everyone involved.