WHEN CONSIDERING EV: FOCUS ON YOUR PEOPLE
Know the People, Policies, and Processes You Need in Place to Make the Move
High fuel prices led the list of critical trucking industry issues in the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) 2022 report.1 Diesel prices are just one of the reasons trucking companies and private fleets are looking harder than ever at adding electric vehicles (EVs).
California’s rules and regulations aimed at forcing truck dealers to sell EVs and making Fleets buy EVs are influencing similar moves in other states.2
If you’re not already considering electrifying, chances are you’ll be weighing EV manufacturers and charging infrastructure options soon. There’s a lot to consider, and it’s easy to downplay the people side of fleet electrification during planning and implementation—but don’t.
During the transition, customer service levels need to be maintained. Vehicles will need to be ready and available—both diesel and electric. For these reasons, it’s key to understand and plan for electrification’s impact on operations.
As workforce experts focused on the asset-based transportation and logistics industry, we at TeamOne Logistics thought we’d share these critical insights for companies making the leap to EV to help them ensure their workforces are fully charged for the changes ahead.
Electrification Will Change the Nature of the Work Substantially
The limited range of EV batteries and their charging needs will alter everything from routing to drivers’ routines. These changes spread through every aspect of operations and throughout organizations. The things drivers, managers, technicians, and dispatchers take for granted will change with EV. New roles and processes will be introduced while things like the fumes and noise associated with diesel trucks will go away.
Drivers won’t need to make repeated fuel stops but they will need to charge. That may mean new break routines and routing shifts. Waiting time—another top 10 industry concern in the ATRI report—is already an issue for drivers. Adding to that annoyance by making drivers wait to charge could become a pressure point that fleets need to address in advance.
How companies plan transportation around the capabilities of EVs will determine the type of drivers they attract. The limited range and charging needs of EVs make them best suited for shorter duties like line hauls and final mile deliveries. That may change the mix of drivers that companies employ. On the upside, local and regional runs that allow drivers to get home every night are attractive to many potential recruits.
Plan to Recruit Specialists to Operate an EV Fleet
Building and operating an electric fleet demands specialized skills for driving, maintaining, managing software, and managing energy. Organizations need to make sure they have the talent on board for a fleet that will run differently than fleets have operated in the past. They’ll have to decide whether to hire new people, outsource services, or train existing employees to perform new functions related to EV operations.
Hiring for these new positions won’t happen overnight. Forecasting talent needs should happen well before implementation. From our experience handling recruitment for leading private fleets and carriers, developing job descriptions, and leveraging the right talent resources takes time and experience in order to ensure seamless implementation of major initiatives like electrification.
Get a head start. Know your potential talent needs, establish a budget and pinpoint your required skillsets—or choose a workforce partner who can help you forecast them. EV technicians and experts in charging station management may be in high demand. Anticipating regional staffing resources and recruitment strategies can reduce implementation time and support uninterrupted service.
Companies Will Have New Training Needs for EV
Although reviewers say EVs are simple to drive, EVs don’t operate in the same way internal combustion engine (ICE) trucks operate. The instant torque and greater maneuverability are the main differences drivers notice. Training will be required for drivers currently driving diesel trucks. As with ICE trucks, how you drive determines energy efficiency in EVs. Safety protocols focused on preventing electric shock require drivers and technicians to have enhanced training.
Training will be required for employees outside of drivers and technicians as well. They’ll need step-up skills for leveraging new software, engineering energy solutions, planning transportation based on new vehicle capabilities, running charging stations, dispatching, and more.
Address EV Safety Requirements Early and Continuously
According to Ford’s Hybrid Vehicle Operation and Diagnosis Training Manual, “Most electrical accidents are the result of incorrect or careless action, not faulty equipment. Follow procedures exactly (to avoid injury and damage).”3
EVs come with new and lethal risks of electrocution. Safeguards during maintenance, charging, idling, and assessing damage save lives. New handbooks, training programs, and certifications will be required. Driver’s pre-trip inspection and logging requirements will be different too.
Careful action starts with training drivers in the simple pre-trip inspection conducted at the start of every deployment. These and other safety procedures need to be formalized in your organization. There are many new considerations from protocols for ensuring vehicles are off (not as easy to tell as with diesel trucks) to establishing a safe perimeter around a vehicle while it is being maintained.
There is personal protection equipment (PPE) that is specific for high voltage risks. Procedures need to be created and trained for choosing and using new PPE like insulated gloves and protective clothing, footwear, and eyewear.
Expect new Compliance and Reporting Requirements for EV
Operators of EV fleets need to create EV-specific safety and compliance programs. Doing so reduces operational risk and supports record-keeping that ensures up-to-date safety training organization-wide.
Additional record-keeping regarding the enhanced safety training and certifications is only the beginning. Many companies receive rebates, tax credits, and incentives related to EV fleets from government entities that require detailed reporting to receive funding.
Rules and regulations like the Advanced Clean Fleets rule in California and those in other states impose additional new compliance requirements and reporting systems that must be implemented for EV fleets.
EV rules, regulations, and opportunities continue to be introduced. It’s important to monitor regulatory changes that can impact business operations—like incentives that can save money or local emissions standards that—when exceeded—can result in fines or penalties.
Focus on Change Management for a Smooth Transition to EV
Expect EV integration to be an evolution. Ensure continuous improvement and optimization by requesting and documenting feedback from drivers and the entire EV team. Their perceptions can guide process improvements, new features, and route optimization. Similarly, set and measure against KPIs for energy efficiency, waiting time, and charging time.
Driver care and communication will determine the success of the transition. After all, drivers are the ones experiencing the brunt of the transition. EV trucking will surely change their jobs.
The good news is that commercial EV users like the experience and the results of running EVs. According to the State of Sustainable Fleets 2021 Mini Guide4:
- 83% say EV driver satisfaction is equal to or better than that of ICE vehicles
- 80 % say EV maintenance costs are equal to or better than those of ICE vehicles
- 88% say EV torque is equal to or better than that of ICE vehicles
- 91% say the noise level of EVs is equal to or better than that of ICE vehicles
EV fleets are totally new territory for motor carriers and private fleets. Thankfully, workplace solutions aren’t. The best practices for recruiting, training, retaining, and rewarding workers are adaptable and effective—even when orchestrating a major organizational change like the introduction of EV.
Put the people programs in place that bring the best of EV to your company and your employees. And if you need help on any aspect of your workplace solutions, TeamOne Logistics offers services for training, safety, and compliance that free you to focus on income-generating processes—and delivering electric results.
1 ATRI Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry — 2022
2 State of Sustainable Fleets 2022 Market and Trends Brief
3 Ford Customer Service Division Technical Training Hybrid Vehicle Operation and Diagnosis Student Guide FCS-21020-REF
4 The State of Sustainable Fleets 2021 | Fleet Miniguide: Battery-Electric Vehicles