Powertrain Innovation Requires Infrastructure Innovation!

Who are the people who know the most about the buses in your fleet? They are most likely the operators and the servicing technicians. They are also the key people whose knowledge, level of training and attitude can determine the success or failure of new powertrain technologies. Training and recruitment of both need to be held to a higher standard than we have seen in the past. I will argue that even the culture of those involved in fleet operations needs to be changed. The bar for technical competence and product knowledge needs to be raised for operators and technicians. In return managers should find ways to include them as stakeholders, investing them with both additional responsibility and accountability. This will require greater access to training and recognition of achievement. Where are the busses stored and serviced? Most likely in an all-purpose state/county/municipal service facility servicing a variety of equipment. We have decades of experience and training dealing with a liquid fuel (Diesel) with relatively low volatility. But gaseous fuels are a game changer and they come with a new set of regulations and procedures. For example, CNG is lighter than air so ignition sources must be removed from shop ceilings, whereas Autogas is heavier than air and will fall to the floor when released. Will your shop service both fuel systems? And then there are hybrid/electric powertrains with their own suite of codes and standards! In this segment we will investigate these topics in detail so that your consideration of new drive systems is not based solely upon the vehicle. I will advocate a holistic approach to powertrain innovation that includes changes required for both your people and your facilities.

Rich Cregar, Wilson Community College

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