Spotlight: The Path to an Electric Fleet Future
An Interview with Troy Musgrave, Director of Process Improvement for Dependable Supply Chain Services (DHE)
Keep on trucking! That’s what truck fleet directors across the world are doing as they work around the clock to transport essential items to those in need in the midst the current crisis. This global pandemic has shed light on the critical role the trucking industry plays in the global supply chain and how our truck drivers are our heroes in this tough time.
The Greenlots team had the pleasure to sit down (over the phone, of course) with Troy Musgrave, Director of Process Improvement for Dependable Supply Chain Services (DHE), to learn more about this critical industry, the industry’s path to electric trucking, and how DHE is staying #DependableStrong in 2020.
1. What is your position at Dependable Highway Express (DHE)? Tell us about your day-to-day.
I’m the Director of Process Improvement at DHE. I’m responsible for overseeing our transportation management system (TMS) and the ancillary applications that integrate with it.
A big part of my day-to-day is data analytics and supporting operations of just about every department with challenges that relate to our TMS. I also am responsible for product and vendor review of hardware and software products that show potential value to our industry. A few examples include the smartphone our drivers use and telematic devices inside the trucks that communicate a lot of data, GPS locations and time dates. Another big part of my responsibility is to be the point of contact for new projects like Volvo LIGHTS and integrating these other products and vendors we’re trying to bring into our environment.
2. How many years have you worked in the trucking/logistics industry?
DHE originated in California over 70 years ago and it’s been my pleasure to work with the company for 19 years of my 41-year career. It’s my life’s career. The trucking and logistics industry is one that I’ve loved to learn and grow in. This industry and career path has longevity…in this pandemic, it’s especially shown that this is more than simply logistics and trucking—it’s essential work.
3. What’s your favorite part of working in the trucking/logistics industry?
It’s my life’s career. The trucking and logistics industry is one that I’ve loved to learn and grow in. This industry and career path has longevity. I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for young people looking for a career that they can get into early, grow into and count on for a lifetime. In this pandemic, it’s especially shown that this is more than simply logistics and trucking—it’s essential work.
From driving the electric trucks, I’ve realized some differences. Overall the drive was remarkably quiet and less rough compared to its diesel counterpart. I’ve been around classic diesel trucks for 41 years and I didn’t realize how loud they were until I drove an electric truck<I anticipate that electric trucks will be the preferred vehicles once they’re incorporated into our fleet. I really do.
4. What are the main differences you or your drivers have been experiencing between driving electric trucks and your internal combustion engine trucks?
Volvo’s electric truck design offers a great advantage to other electric trucks because they’re using the exact model of truck that we currently use. When you walk up and get in the cab, at a first glance, there’s not anything new. You wouldn’t know it’s electric without picking up that there are batteries where fuel tanks have been.
From driving the electric trucks, I’ve realized some differences. I’ve been around classic diesel trucks for 41 years and I didn’t realize how loud they were until I drove an electric truck! I really enjoyed being able to drive the Volvo VNR Battery Electric Tractor. I was surprised at how much power it has! The 2-speed transmission was very smooth and the truck has plenty of acceleration. While the regenerative braking feature took some getting used to, it wasn’t long before I found a comfortable setting for my road condition. The Hill Start Assist feature holds the tractor and trailer in place while moving from brake to accelerator without rolling. Overall, the drive was remarkably quiet and less rough compared to its diesel counterpart. I am very excited to see the Volvo Lights Project get underway.
I anticipate that electric trucks will be the preferred vehicles once they’re incorporated into our fleet. I really do. This technology is going to attract drivers to come work for us. Young people will want to work at DHE when they see we’re a progressive-thinking company reducing our carbon footprint. Using current grid power is one thing, but generating renewable energy, capturing it, and powering our trucks with it in peak times of electricity demand will be a big opportunity.
5. What do you expect to be the main differences between the electric trucks and internal combustion engine trucks once they’re being operated at the fleet level?
Looking at the rollout, making sure there will be a ready supply of energy to support electric trucks will be key. I think there’s great work being done in microgrids right now. It’s an important concept as electric trucks come into the industry. Using current grid power is one thing, but generating renewable energy, capturing it, and powering our trucks with it in peak times of electricity demand will be a big opportunity.
In our first phase, electric trucks will be out conducting deliveries and, meanwhile, we’ll be generating solar from an 864 kWh system installed above our building, dock and parking areas. When the trucks come in at night, some of their batteries will be charged with green energy. Stored power can either be used for the next day, be discharged back into the grid, or can be used to offset the building’s power load. In doing so, we’ll increase efficiency, reduce energy costs and put less strain on the electric grid.
6. Can you tell us how DHE’s business been affected by COVID-19?
Overall, business has decreased, but there has been an increase in essential business shipments, especially with the uptick in medical supply shipments. There’s also been confusion from the customer side about what we can ship and to whom. There have been instances where shipments were shipped but receiving locations couldn’t take it. We often had to return it to where it came from or were asked to hold the shipment.
We’re impressed with the dedication of all of our employees in this crisis, especially the drivers….everyone has been working to keep our businesses moving in an extraordinary time. #DependableStrong.
7. What has been the most important takeaway in this time?
One of the most important things we need to acknowledge is the health and safety of our employees and customers. We’re impressed with the dedication of all of our employees in this crisis, especially the drivers. They’re what is keeping our company moving. In thinking of them, we have to think of their safety. There’s no guideline for us to refer to for this situation. It’s up to us to know where we can make changes and help our employees and customers stay safe. We currently have customer requests that we’re adapting to. When drivers make deliveries, we exchange a document that we ask recipients to sign as a delivery receipt. At this time, people are avoiding physical contact and prefer not to sign anything. We’re now finding ways to do a virtual exchange to create delivery receipts. We also need to make sure drivers have proper tools—masks, cleaning and sanitizing materials—to keep themselves safe.
8. Who on your team would you like to thank for their outstanding support or performance recently and why?
I think I’ve been championing them all along — our drivers, dock workers, administration, and sales teams. Everyone has been working to keep our businesses moving in an extraordinary time. #DependableStrong.