Everything you need to know about utility vehicles.  -  Photo: Reading/Altec/Western Pacific/Southwest Products

Everything you need to know about utility vehicles.

Photo: Reading/Altec/Western Pacific/Southwest Products

Utility trucks play a pivotal role in providing essential services and ensuring the smooth functioning of critical systems.

These versatile vehicles are the backbone of various sectors, from construction and telecommunications to waste management and emergency response.

It is crucial to grasp the distinct types of utility trucks and their specific applications to harness their full potential and streamline operations.

In this Fleet 101, we delve into the diverse world of utility truck models, shedding light on their unique use cases and their impact on optimizing various operations.

Service Trucks: The Lifeline of On-Site Repairs

Service or mechanic trucks are upfitted with a mobile workshop and tools, making them indispensable for on-site repairs and maintenance tasks.

With a custom upfitted job, services trucks can be built to perfection to provide everything a technician needs to complete the job.

These versatile vehicles are used in construction, telecommunications, and public utilities.

Fleet managers can employ service trucks to reduce downtime and increase productivity, ensuring swift repair services for essential equipment and machinery.

Example models:

  • Ford F-550 Super Duty Service Truck.
  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD Mechanic Truck.

Bucket Trucks: Taking Maintenance to Greater Heights Safely

Bucket trucks, or aerial lift trucks, feature a hydraulic platform or bucket attached to a boom, enabling workers to reach elevated areas easily.

They can reach heights ranging from 30 feet to 69 feet depending on the truck. Different lifts are also available such as:

  • Material handling.
  • Personnel.
  • Telescopic articulating.
  • Telescopic.
  • Articulated.
  • Cable placer.

Utility companies, tree service professionals, and maintenance crews extensively use these trucks.

Accessing high locations safely makes bucket trucks ideal for repairing power lines, trimming trees, and streetlight maintenance.

Example models:

Optima TC55 55' Telescopic Articulating Boom Bucket Truck.  -  Photo: Crane Market

Optima TC55 55' Telescopic Articulating Boom Bucket Truck.

Photo: Crane Market

Digger Derrick: Exceling at Excavating

A digger derrick, commonly referred to as a "derrick," is a specialized piece of equipment designed for heavy lifting and excavation tasks.

It consists of a tall framework or tower with a boom, which is a horizontal arm that extends from the top. The boom is equipped with various attachments such as a bucket or a clamshell grab to facilitate digging, lifting, and moving materials, soil, or debris.

Derrick diggers are primarily used in construction, mining, and large-scale infrastructure projects where significant earthmoving and material handling are required.

They excel at excavating deep holes, trenches, and foundations, as well as relocating heavy objects like boulders and concrete blocks. The derrick's robust design and powerful hydraulic systems enable it to tackle challenging terrains and heavy-duty tasks efficiently.

To operate a derrick digger, skilled operators manipulate the boom and attachments through hydraulic controls from a control cabin or platform located at the top of the tower.

The operator can precisely position the boom and attachments to dig, lift, or place materials with accuracy. Safety protocols are crucial when operating derrick diggers, given their immense power and the potential risks associated with their operations.

Example models: 

  • Liebherr HS 8100 HD.
  • Manitowoc MLC165.
  • Terex HC165.
The D105 digger derrick powered by a Freightliner M2 106.  -  Photo: Freightliner

The D105 digger derrick powered by a Freightliner M2 106.

Photo: Freightliner

Cranes: For Heavy Lifting Demands

Cranes, or boom trucks, are specialized utility trucks equipped with a powerful lifting apparatus, making them indispensable for heavy lifting tasks.

They come in three different categories:

  1. They have a lifting capacity of up to 20 tons and mount on light or medium-duty truck chassis. They can be used for utility work, industrial and residential construction.
  2. A lifting capacity ranging from 20 to 50 tons. Mounted on heavy-duty truck chassis, these trucks are designed for commercial construction, infrastructure development, and heavy industrial work.
  3. With a lifting capacity exceeding 50 tons, they typically mounted on specialized heavy-duty chassis. They often require supplementary support structures, such as outriggers. They’re used in bridge construction, heavy industrial projects, and lifting shipping containers.

Depending on the specific application, fleet managers can choose from various crane types, including telescopic, articulating, and knuckle boom cranes.

Example models:

  • National Crane NBT40 Boom Truck.
  • Manitowoc MLC165 Lattice Boom Crawler Crane.
National Crane NBT60 Boom Truck.  -  Photo: Western Pacific Crane & Equipment

National Crane NBT60 Boom Truck.

Photo: Western Pacific Crane & Equipment

Dump Trucks: The Essential Players in Bulk Material Transport

Dump trucks are designed for transporting loose materials, such as sand, gravel, and construction debris.

In their standard configuration, a dump truck has an open-box bed with a hinged rear and hydraulic rams at the front.

These hydraulic systems enable the truck's front to lift, facilitating the smooth and efficient deposition, or "dumping," of materials from the bed onto the ground at the designated delivery site.

They are commonly used in construction, landscaping, and waste management industries. These trucks come in various sizes and configurations, offering flexibility based on the job's requirements.

Example models:

  • Caterpillar CT660 Dump Truck.
  • Volvo VHD84F Dump Truck.

Fuel and Lube Trucks: Fueling Remote Areas

Fuel and lube trucks are essential for on-site refueling and lubricating machinery and equipment, eliminating the need for frequent trips to fuel stations.

These utility trucks are prevalent in construction, mining, and agriculture industries, where equipment operates in remote areas.

They have the option of an open product tank area for fair-weather applications or an enclosed product tank area for colder environments.

Most fuel tanks have an average maximum capacity of 2,000 gallons. Additionally, you can select product tanks ranging from 50 to 250 gallons, suitable for both salvage fluid collection and fresh fluid dispensing.

Example models:

  • Kenworth T880 Fuel and Lube Truck.
  • Peterbilt 348 Fuel and Lube Truck.
1000 Gallon Lube Truck.  -  Photo: Southwest Products

1000 Gallon Lube Truck.

Photo: Southwest Products

Water Trucks: For Disaster Relief

Water trucks, also known as water tankers, are designed to transport and distribute water for various purposes, including dust suppression, firefighting, and road construction. The tankers are available for non-potable water and potable water.

These trucks are commonly used in arid regions, construction sites, and municipalities.

Most water trucks can be customized to fit the fleet's needs, including the spray heads and nozzles and different types of construction.

Example models:

  • Freightliner 114SD Water Truck.
  • Mack Granite Water Tanker.

Choosing the Right Utility Truck to Enhance Overall Productivity

Understanding the different types of utility trucks and their respective use cases is vital for fleet managers and those involved in utility fleet operations.

Service trucks, bucket trucks, cranes, dump trucks, fuel and lube trucks, and water trucks serve unique purposes and contribute significantly to maintaining critical infrastructure and delivering essential services.

By selecting the right utility truck models for specific tasks, fleet managers can optimize operations, reduce downtime, and enhance overall productivity.

About the author
Hillary Weiss

Hillary Weiss

Senior Editor

Hillary Weiss is a senior editor at Bobit. Her work has been featured in Work Truck, Government Fleet, Metro, and Fleet Forward magazines. She has a decade of digital publishing experience and a passion for all things related to fleets.

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