Driving Innovation | OEC News

Revolutionizing service from the shop floor

Oklahoma Electric Cooperative’s (OEC) fleet management team is redefining efficiency and reliability, ensuring every vehicle and piece of equipment supports its mission to better serve members and subscribers. Buddy Byrd, Fleet Coordinator, shares insights on how the shop has transformed over the years to keep the wheels of progress turning.

Buddy Byrd’s journey at OEC began over a decade ago. Starting in 2011, he moved from temp service worker to full-time employee by 2013. His 11-year tenure and current role as a fleet coordinator gave him a front-row seat to the dramatic changes in fleet management at OEC.

The sense of camaraderie and support at OEC plays a significant role in Byrd’s commitment to his work. The relationships built in the shop foster a sense of accountability and dedication, ensuring every task is done meticulously.

“When you know and trust the person next to you, it translates into higher- quality work,” Byrd said. “We treat equipment and vehicles as if they belong to our own families, ensuring they are safe and will reliably bring those guys home.”

This supportive atmosphere extends beyond the shop, influencing how the team approaches their work and service to OEC members and subscribers. “The relationships we’ve built with our outside guys really improve communication between teams,” Byrd said.

Fleet management at OEC has seen significant advancements since Byrd joined. “When I started, everything was manual; we still used Excel spreadsheets for inventory,” Byrd said. The transition to digital systems revolutionized operations.

Fleetio—project management software that allows crews to continually monitor vehicles, equipment and parts inventory, among other things—was implemented in 2018. It plays a crucial role in maintaining vehicle health and streamlining processes such as Department of Transportation (DOT) inspections, tracking oil changes and tire and engine mileage, and conducting pre- trip checks.

These upgrades streamlined processes and increased the crew’s ability to resolve issues with co-op vehicles efficiently. “Using Fleetio means we get notified immediately if there’s an issue,” Byrd said. “It ensures vehicles are safe and ready for the road, minimizing downtime.”

With Fleetio, work is scheduled and completed at a pace that allows crews to get repairs without moving into a spare truck. The reduced downtime means fewer hours for vehicles in the shop, and more time for lineworkers and fiber technicians in the field and increased productivity.

“If a digger truck, essential for installing large transformers or poles, is out of service, work cannot proceed or becomes extremely labor-intensive,” said Joe Tarp, Manager of Overhead Construction and Fleet. “Maintaining our current fleet of trucks and equipment is vital for daily operations.”

Implementing dual cranes in the shop has been a game-changer for safety. “We used to use a single crane and a forklift,” Byrd said. “Now, with two cranes, we can handle heavy equipment more safely and efficiently.”

Byrd emphasizes that these improvements are about making the job easier and ensuring the safety of the linemen and fiber technician crews.

“Our goal is to make sure the guys are operating safe vehicles. It’s not just about their safety but everyone on the road,” Byrd said.

The advancements in fleet management at OEC result from a collaborative effort. “It’s 100% a team effort,” Byrd said. “Chris, Kyle and I sat down to figure out what we needed to be more efficient, and our management teams have been highly supportive.”

Tarp, who oversees the shop operations, had a direct hand in getting the crew what was needed.

“The men working in the shop are extremely important to OEC and OEC Fiber, and we’re happy to support their efforts to expand the ability of our department,” Tarp said. “Their skills allow us to perform most all work in-house without taking vehicles and equipment to repair shops.”

The shop team’s dedication often extends beyond the campus. During storms or emergencies, they are ready to go into the field to help their colleagues.

“We get calls about flat tires or damaged equipment, and sometimes we have to head out and make repairs on- site,” Byrd said.

This readiness to assist on the ground ensures that the field crews can continue their work with minimal interruption.

The shop’s improvements have had a tangible impact on OEC’s overall operations. “We’re probably a hundred times more efficient than we were before,” Byrd said. This efficiency improves service for members and subscribers, as vehicles are kept in top condition and downtime is minimized.

Jake Calvert, an OEC district lineman for 17 years, has witnessed the benefits firsthand. “The improved efficiency of our shop to us means quality, permanent repairs and less time waiting for the right parts to keep the fleet up to OEC standards,” Calvert said. “Management and our board have been very willing to provide great equipment, a great group of mechanics and a top-notch facility to keep our linemen in the field and give our members and subscribers the service they have come to expect.”

Byrd and the crew are not relaxing their efforts. “We’re looking to upgrade our oil system and get a new service truck,” Byrd said. “These improvements will continue to enhance the efficiency and reliability of OEC’s fleet.”

For Byrd, the concept of service is personal. “Service means providing something reliable and safe,” Byrd said. “My goal every day is to make sure our guys can go out, do their job, and come home safely to their families.”

A commitment to OEC’s members and subscribers is at the heart of all these efforts. “Everything we do is with the members’ money in mind,” Byrd said. “We make sure every expenditure is justified and that we’re getting the best value.” This conscientious approach ensures that OEC can continue to provide high-quality, reliable service to its members and subscribers.

The dedication and collaborative efforts of the entire fleet management department at OEC exemplify the cooperative’s mission to improve the quality of life for its members and subscribers through safe, reliable and innovative services. As OEC continues to evolve, the fleet management department’s commitment to excellence remains a cornerstone of its success.

Share this article

A Special Week | OEC News

Multiple OEC employees joined the record number of co-op volunteers at the 2024 Special Olympics Summer Games in Stillwater, OK. Read on to find out more about their experience and how you can get involved.

Read More »
Follow us!
Skip to content