Hello – my name is Larry and I’m a tree trimmer……….. Most of you are familiar with TED Talks…..you learn something cool from a leading expert…….Sorry, if that’s what you were expecting - LARRY Talks are pretty much nothing like that…….
At Avista we start every meeting with a Safety Moment.
Avista is a small regional investor owned utility in 5 states (and now Canada!) – We have generation, TX, DX, and Natural Gas
Descending order of importance to our Veg Mgnt program. 26 ISA Certified Arborists
I was asked to speak today about some of the changes we’ve put into play in our DX Veg Mgnt program at Avista. Key Performance Indicators. Handed out computer tablets to the tree crew Foremen our first annual Veg Mgnt Training day in 2012. That was deer in the headlights moment! One of my long term Foreman said he’d never get the computer. Couldn’t even turn in on. I told him the story of the 20+ years I’d been correcting paper timesheets……I’d give him the same amount of time to get the computer right……
I actually have some old footage of an encounter I had in the mid-90’s when I was with Asplundh and brought up a new idea about site and tree specific trimming instead of just 10’ linear distance trimming to a utility customer.
You might imagine how encouraged I was to bring other new ideas to that customer…..
And a maybe load of firewood! This guy passed me on a 60mph hwy on a double yellow and a left turn lane……if I could have caught him I’d have offered him a job!
So let’s talk perspectives….Funny thing about expectations and perceptions……seems everyone has a different one…..we all know how customers pretty much always see things our way when it comes to their trees……
Penrose Triangle – Perth Australia The Penrose triangle The Penrose triangle, also known as the Penrose tribar, is an impossible object. It was first created by the Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvärd in 1934. The psychologist Lionel Penrose and his mathematician son Roger Penrose independently devised and popularised it in the 1950s, describing it as "impossibility in its purest form". It is featured prominently in the works of artist M. C. Escher, whose earlier depictions of impossible objects partly inspired it.
Perceptions and context can be paramount – I tend to look at things from the tree trimmer point of view.
But it’s plain to see that no matter what point of view you have, the best results come from when all points are considered with equal value.
So I’m guessing all of our programs have some similarities….like that tree crew costs are the lion’s share of the annual budget? If it’s the management team, are you taking any applications…..??
Why would we purposely slow down our most important and expensive commodity with junk like this to follow? You couldn’t make this more of a burden if you tried……
Ever have customers continue to call back once you’ve told them NO, their tree concern is their responsibility? Probably hoping to get a different person/answer. This is how we used to look for historical data. Paper data format: time / new boss / office moves – pitch the paperwork……. My first meeting with the new VP of Operations after I was hired, the questions was do we have an inventory of the recurring veg work on our system.
At first my bosses kinda choked over the cost of the different work planning packages we were looking at before going electronic.
But we started adding crew efficiencies to information we could actually use (read) it turned out to be a small price to pay.
Blue pins are bucket accessible trees and green pins are backyard/easement climbing trees. Helps GFs and Foremen have a plan at a glance.
Crew Foreman had the suggestion of house color on their maps instead of addresses (already in the databases) so they wouldn’t have to drive around the block every time. Can you see the blue balloons near the green and blue pins? Those are the imbedded pictures of our work inventory.
Like this one.
I actually had to “mess up” the cab of this lift truck. I couldn’t find one as bad as I remembered…..
Planner notes to tree crew including link to picture of the tree
We found the Google Maps had a really nice application in the event of a storm.
Able to divide effected areas into quadrants and assign crews. NO STAGING AREAS! Multiple map tabs in addition to utility assessments – also County Roads, State DOT, City Parks, Customer requests With 27 Asplundh tree crews, we were able to stay ahead of 120+ line crews. The foreign crews and GFs could pull all this info up on their smart phones – no additional computers……..While the rest of the company is trying figure out how to get work and company radios to their foreign line crews.
Your idea could be fool proof, but it might not be management proof.
Tree removal and replacement partnership with the City of Spokane has been very successful. Even a new permitting process thru Urban Forestry to plant a tree in the City’s ROW.
Fall of 2015 we decided to do a TRP Pilot on private property trees. On the second trip thru this feeder we focused on the customers trees we had identified as Cycle Busters. Asked the CUFs to spend time with the customers – multiple visits, coffee, newspaper, anything short of having the cops called for stalking…..
Old buddy Ernie – in-house tree trimmer for 35 years remembers trimming these trees about every three years his whole career…..That’s at least 10 trims at say $2000 per cycle (four trees altogether) = what $20,000? Those trees are now gone for about $5000 in tree removal, stump grinding, and replacement trees.
The criteria for trimming used to be 10’ Criteria now is site and tree specific (Larry 25 years in the field) For a fast growing tree, that can be 15’ of clearance from our lines. For a slow growing tree, that could only be 5’ of clearance.
Another transformation is the risk tree program #1 risk for the company is wildfires and the past two summers (bad fire seasons) have not been the cause of a fire In rural areas with cycle being 6 years, every 2 years do a drive by looking for dead, diseased and dying trees
Efficiency is being improved by changing the way that crews work They used to follow a distribution feeder in whatever route it takes See the purple line, how it crosses a freeway and the river It is inefficient for a crew to have to travel to a bridge and back to keep working The highlighted portion is now a work area that maximizes efficiency
Further, the work areas were chosen to correspond to the predominant vegetation in the area Rural areas with pines and firs do not need to be trimmed very often because they don’t regrow branches Urban area with deciduous trees need a shorter cycle time So we now have customized cycles for trimming based on the types of trees
Wednesday - Distribution Vegetation Management
Distribution Vegetation Management
Trees & Utilities Conference
September 27th, 2017
Slide about Avista Utilities
370,000 electric &
7800 miles of
128 years old*
*give or take
30,000 sq miles*
Slide about our Veg Mgnt team
• 17 power line clearance tree crews
• 8 utility arborists/work planners
• 1 utility admin/tech
• 1 utility tree guy
• Weekly Crew and CUF teleconference calls
• Monthly management team meetings
• Quarterly CUF calibration meetings
• Annual All Hands Training Day
Slide about history of the program
Last 5+ decades:
• Linear distance trimming
• All about routine trimming
• Annual miles of line goal
• File cabinets & paper,
• T&M hourly pricing
• Crew timesheets &
running to FedEx
• See “File cabinets”
Last 5+ years:
• Site/tree specific trimming
• Focus on robust risk
assessment & removals
• Annual tree units KPI
• Electronic format –
• Unit Pricing
• Download (upload?) time
& production every day
• Tree Inventory
But we often have different expectations
Utility wants -
• Tree Inventory
• Work prescription
• GPS locations
• Pre-work cost estimates
• Project management
• Efficiency reports
• Next cycle budget estimates
• Business case
• Historic Database
• More info than we’ll ever use
• Analytics Apocalypse
Tree Trimmer wants -
• Work Location
• Work Prescription (maybe)
• Stand back
Pilot for Tree Replacement Program
1st Work Planning Trip:
Routine Maintenance Work
• 1,303 tree trimming units
• 150 removal units
2nd Work Planning Trip:
Focus on Removals
• 119 additional removal units
($13k savings per cycle)
• 58 additional hours of CUF time