Duke Energy Tells Their SmartPTO Story

Read how Duke Energy is electrifying its fleet of bucket trucks

Duke Energy is one of the largest utility companies in the U.S. and one of a kind for having such a large fleet of utility trucks, so when we were asked earlier in the year to run a pilot testing period with SmartPTO on one of their utility trucks, we jumped at the opportunity. After months of collecting data which later culminated into a Pilot Report, on October 2, 2019 Duke Energy published this article outlining its purchase of 24 units, stating in the article,

“The pilot has proven so successful, Duke Energy will soon expand to 24 bucket trucks outfitted with SmartPTOs and is considering making them standard on all new bucket trucks.”

“Compared to other plug-in electrics, this unit was quieter, more responsive and much simpler in design,” said Mike Allison, Duke Energy’s director of Fleet Design and Technical Services. “When we saw that, we thought this is a viable path to electrifying all of our bucket truck fleet.”

Our relationship with Duke Energy remains a priority. We hope to see the standardization of SmartPTO spread throughout the market from the shoulders of the utility industry giant, cementing them into history as a proponent for the rise of clean technology throughout the utility fleet world.

Viatec is also in the heart of Duke Energy’s Carolinas service area.

“That’s an economic development opportunity, and that’s a big part of our EV initiatives,” said Lang Reynolds, Duke Energy’s director of Electric Transportation. “We want to make sure our service areas are leading in this industry.”

Read More from Duke Energy

ICUEE 2019 in Review, Day 3

The ICUEE, North America’s largest utility and construction trade show, is nothing short of a big
deal. On the final day of the three day event in October of 2019 we were able to cap off our time
there with conversations from many of the expo’s participants and attendees. With industry
leaders like Versalift and Terex demoing SmartPTO as a standalone electrification solution for
their bucket trucks in a seamless fashion, we were able to show that the unit works flawlessly
alongside the best equipment in the business.

In March, MarketWatch stated that the bucket truck market was projected to exceed 1 Billion
U.S dollars by 2024. You can read their article on the subject here. This means that the threat of
increased emissions due to idling will only increase in the near future and the perfect time for
the industry to fully adopt standalone electrification solutions like SmartPTO is upon us. With
such a successful experience at ICUEE 2019, Viatec was able to demonstrate that our solution
is up to the task.

With tens of thousands of these vehicles in operation today and an increase in that number in
the next 5 years, Our mission is two-fold; working to retrofit current operational trucks in the field
while standardizing SmartPTO among new vehicles being pushed into the market. With
relationships galvanized by flying on Versalift and Terex trucks at ICUEE 2019, we are well on
our way to creating an environment in which SmartPTO is a typical add-on for bucket truck
manufacturers. After utility giant, Duke Energy announced their implementation of SmartPTO on
24 current trucks this year, and possible future standardization, our goals are quickly becoming
reality. You can read that announcement here.

“ICUEE highlights a key landmark for Viatec Incorporated. It marks the first time our OEM
partners, Terex and Versalift, demonstrated SmartPTO to their primary audience across utility
and construction industries. And existing customers brought their peers to meet us during the
show thus our quote activity has increased substantially. Folks were pleasantly surprised to
learn over $100 million dollars were invested in development and testing the powertrain unit so
heavy duty cycling without need to plumb into the truck’s cooling system is now a reality. The
expo also gave us a chance to speak with many organizations that are interested to retrofit
existing trucks – an industry first for ePTO’s! We are delighted with the trajectory ICUEE helped
Viatec achieve.”

-Mark Housley, Viatec Inc.

ICUEE 2019 in Review, Day 2

With day one behind us, we were even more prepared to engage with industry professionals at the 2019 ICUEE. While Sr. Engineer David Anderson headed up demonstration in the Versalift expo lot, Vice President of Design and Engineering, Neeraj Chirmulay, was delivering his expertise on a SmartPTO fitted to a Terex bucket truck among their demo fleet display outside. We were happy to partner with Terex to demonstrate the effectiveness of SmartPTO on their newest quality models and connect with professionals from among those interested in seeing what Terex had to offer the show.

Terex Corporation is a global manufacturer of lifting and material processing products and services. They rolled out the red carpet with one of the larger lots at the event featuring many of their top of the line utility trucks. The bucket truck flying SmartPTO exemplified the power of third generation electrification paired with one of the industry leader’s quality vehicles.

We look forward to adapting SmartPTO and the upcoming SmartPX with various utility products that manufacturers like Terex offers. With opportunities to electrify stepvans, digger derricks, and more as we continue to build these important relationships, we are pleased to show the 2019 ICUEE that SmartPTO is ready to be utilized as a standard for the industry.

ICUEE 2019 in Review, Day 1

Sprawling across 1.3 million square feet of Louisville’s Kentucky Expo Center was the first day of the 2019 International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition, or the ICUEE. Early Tuesday morning, alongside more than 1,000 other exhibitors from across the industry, Viatec showcased SmartPTO as the first third generation ePTO on the market. Both inside the expo building and out in the surprising 95 degree October heat, 19,000 attendees from the U.S., Canada, and 65 other countries sought out this year’s innovations from October 1-3 at the event.

ICUEE being the largest trade show of its kind, we were excited to have three locations throughout the show, two of which were SmartPTO units being demonstrated at the large scale utility truck expo lots of Terex and Versalift. Each unit installed on a top of the line bucket truck from each manufacturer.

The Versalift lot was an impressive array of brand new top quality bucket trucks fitted with a range of aerial devices. The truck featuring our SmartPTO unit was sending attendees over 100 feet above the expo blacktop with near silent electric power. Fitted above the unit was Bergstrom’s eCoolPark electrified HVAC solution, also being powered by SmartPTO to cool of the demo truck’s cab in the Kentucky heat. We were proud to showcase our new partnership with Bergstrom as our exclusive cab comfort option on a beautiful Versalift bucket truck.


eCoolPark by Bergstrom is a perfect fit for a modular application like SmartPTO. Much like SmartPTO is attached directly into the hydraulics of the truck it serves, eCoolPack’s HVAC technology plugs directly into the vehicles existing system, allowing for standalone operation.

Out of Waco, TX, Versalift has been an innovative manufacturer of vehicle-mounted aerial lifts since 1965 across North America, Latin America and Europe. These quality machines were the perfect way to demonstrate SmartPTO in action.

Bergstrom announces partnership with Viatec and SmartPTO

With the 2019 ICUEE  behind us we look ahead to new lasting partnerships such as the one we have developed with Bergstrom, industry leaders in HVAC systems. They have developed eCoolPark, the only compact high-efficiency, electric no-idle A/C system. In tandem with SmartPTO, the eCoolPark system will be delivering cab comfort to utility trucks fitted with our electric PTO. This new relationship standardizes our HVAC option with Bergstrom’s decades of product development experience in action.

We aren’t the only ones catching on, cited Bergstrom’s article featuring the new relationship in coupling with SmartPTO:

“The size of this system sets it apart from anything else that’s currently available in the industry,” said Sean Connell, managing director of no-idle products in North America. “Also, being able to use some of the vehicle’s existing components, such as the duct work, make it very easy to install. In addition, our customers will see a reduction of fuel consumption and engine maintenance costs.”

Bergstrom, now an industry leader in electrified cab comfort options are an obvious choice for partnership. Both products adopting the philosophy of modular, non-intrusive  integration, the eCoolPark unit installs directly into the HVAC system, utilizing SmartPTO’s battery as a power source.

Neeraj Chirmulay, vice president, design and engineering, Viatec Inc. “We wanted people who have thought through cab comfort. Bergstrom is leading the charge on no-idle cab comfort solutions. Our operation is new, and we want to provide the cab comfort option from a brand people are familiar with.”


For more information about the eCoolPark system, please visit BergstromInc.com.

Join us at the 2019 ICUEE



Join us at our booth

The International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE), also known as the Demo Expo will happen October 1-3, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky, at the Kentucky Exposition Center. ICUEE has been recognized as a top 100 Gold Trade Show. Come take a ride in the bucket with us as we demo SmartPTO, a modular ePTO. It’s plug and play installation make it the first of it’s kind. An electric power takeoff unit that can easily be installed for any hydraulic configuration. In this case, a bucket truck.

Learn more about the ICUEE here

The New Generation of ePTO. The Big Difference

A power take-off or PTO is any of several methods for taking power from a power source, such as a running engine, and transmitting it to an application, like the hydraulics for a bucket lift. 

Ground Zero 

PTO’s have been around for a long time. Experimental versions were invented as early as 1878, while even before then there were other ways to transfer power from a running engine. Before the modern PTO, either the engine remained stationary, or the device only worked while the vehicle (in most cases a tractor) was actively moving, and was typically attached to the wheel. It was only until the first true PTO was invented, that we were able to proficiently utilize a drive train to operate equipment that didn’t slip, was easily connected and disconnected, and operated while the vehicle was making turns. It was these motivations that brought about the first ever commercial PTO. 

Early PTO’s 

It wasn’t until 1918 when International Harvester Company (IHC) introduced the first commercial tractor PTO, the model 8-16, that they became a documented technology. Edward A. Johnston, and engineer for IHC, noticed the clever enginuity of the farmers who had fashioned their own PTO’s in the hills of France and sought out to create a production model. After its release, it would only be another year before other competitors sprang up in a new race to satisfy consumers in the agricultural industry of the 1920’s. With that came the birth of the first generation of PTO’s. 

Live PTO’s 

At this point a PTO’s installation in a transmission determined if the PTO could run independently of ground speed, or how fast the vehicle was traveling. Early on this was taken from the main output shaft, requiring the vehicle be in gear to operate. “Live” PTO’s were able to control the PTO’s rotation independently of the motion of the vehicle. This way the tractor could slow or stop while still running equipment. In 1945, Cockshutt Farm Equipment Ltd introduced the Cockshutt Model 30 tractor with LPTO and to this day the technology has remained fairly similar with most modern PTO’s considered to be “live.” 

The Electric PTO (ePTO) 

Oddly enough, the battery was invented before the PTO, but it wasn’t until decades later that people started attempting to electrify PTO’s for the sake of saving fuel. Once western culture became more environmentally aware in the early 90’s, ePTO’s finally started getting the attention they deserved, but the progression of batteries would serve to be an obstacle in their adoption. 

First Generation ePTO’s 

It wasn’t long before people realized they could use battery power to operate PTO’s independently. In the early days of ePTO’s there was quite a bit of variety in architecture and battery chemistry. Most models weighed in at an unmanageable 1,500 lbs or more. They were also expensive with hefty price tags up to 100k and were largely unreliable. They had to be deeply integrated into the vehicle so much so that if the ePTO failed, the truck or tractor was put out of commission until the problem was resolved. This complicated a goal that was originally pretty valid; improving the environment through emission reduction. 

It was all just too expensive to be worth it. Downtime related costs including repair, replacement vehicle, rentals, and loss of productivity could sometimes reach the initial unit cost of 60k or more, and the cost fell right in the customers lap. Most fleet managers shared negative experiences in this first rendition, experiencing hardware issues and fires along side lofty costs. Some companies were forced to close, evolve or sell those divisions to mitigate losses. All this was enough to leave a bad taste in the industry’s mouth despite the unit’s still being safer for crews and the environment. 

ePTO’s had yet to really stick… 

Second Generation of ePTO’s 

After the turn of the millenium, concerns for climate change were mounting and generations of Americans were now old enough to bring it to the forefront of legislation and culture. By 2013 Lithium Iron Phosphate battery technology was allowing us to reevaluate the stability ePTO’s and the industry was cautiously ready to give them another shot. What came from this was a more reliable version of the utility. Though even such a short time ago, lithium batteries were still pretty heavy, and rather expensive, taking as long as 10 years for savings payback under reasonable total cost of ownership models, and the units were also still deeply integrated affecting resale value. They also still risked taking your truck out of commission if they failed, averaging between $50,000 and $80,000 for a unit large enough to operate a bucket truck boom, bucket, or winch for a full workday. Annual fuel and maintenance savings, assuming no unexpected downtime, should have been around $4,500 to $9,500 annually, however, getting your money back on the investment still took longer than the average utility truck’s lifetime in a commercial setting. Things were improving but not enough to revive most fleet managers from the avoidance of the product they had developed from experiences with the first generation. The product was still lacking. 

SmartPTO, Third Generation ePTO 

Finally today, the new generation of ePTO solves these problems. Like previous models work can be done in a quieter, safer environment where ground crews can communicate freely, but now, modernized lithium batteries cost $7,500 less on average and weigh a lot less with the unit at a grand total of 500lbs on average. Superiorly reliable, 3rd gen ePTO’s rarely fail and are truly parallel, meaning they can be deactivated to restore normal PTO use. They are easily transferable from one truck to another with a one to two day installation time simply because rather than powering the drivetrain of the vehicle, SmartPTO plugs directly into the hydraulic system, improving efficiency and making it easier than ever to retrofit existing fleets. This creates an average annual savings potential of up to $9,000, and a savings payback of typically less than 4-5 years. Onboard telematics software allows for tracking, diagnosis, and raw data from the field, pushing updates and performance adjustments remotely. The cost has also been improved with a price tag under 40,000 for most installations, boasting nearly $80,000+ in lifetime savings per unit, and reducing maintenance costs by 69%. 

So then, the special ingredient in calling an ePTO “3rd Gen” is it’s modular nature, and SmartPTO is the first of its kind. Developed by Viatec, it has a proven electric motor with over a decade of testing and two million dollars worth of research behind it. Watch the demo video below to learn more 

Innovating Electrified PTOs for Idle Reduction

We were honored to attend the Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference and Expo of 2019! Our head engineer, Neeraj Chirmulay gave a presentation on how SmartPTO is innovating idle reduction. Below is a synopsis of that talk.

We’ve all seen it. The power company truck pulls up to a line in your neighborhood, the linemen hoist themselves up in the bucket, and then fix whatever problem is keeping the lights off. Some of us have possibly been a bit annoyed – this huge diesel truck outside of your house, at 8 am, idling its engine for hours on end. It’s something that we accept. It’s also something the industry has accepted for years now. In order to operate the truck equipment, the trucks engine has to keep running. So, what’s the answer? Hybridization.

There are two ways to electrically hybridize a vehicle. Either we improve efficiency while driving, or we eliminate idling, especially on a vehicle that utilizes its engine for powering auxiliary equipment. That all depends on the kind of truck. In this case, an electric power takeoff unit (ePTO) powers the hydraulics for the equipment on the utility truck.

Types of ePTO’s

ePTO’s have been implemented for over a decade, and in mostly two traditional ways. The first is when a hybrid system, originally designed to improve driving efficiency, is adapted to add ePTO functionality to a system. This is never a good fit because it involves taking a system that was designed for trucks that drive a lot, and making it work for trucks that don’t.

The second type is an ePTO that is designed to be an ePTO, but is still deeply integrated, and tries to accomplish too many things at once. These usually have an automatic start/stop feature for the engine. They recharge batteries off of the engine as well. They are deeply integrated into the trucks electric systems.

The third and new way to electrify these systems is SmartPTO. The biggest difference is its modular nature. It is easily installed into existing hydraulic systems, even retrofitted on old trucks, and offers any of multiple additional features, like electrically running cab AC. Its common architecture allows for it to be implemented on almost any system and is configurable in different capacities like pump flow, or battery storage. Not to be confused with “One size fits all”. You don’t buy the same lawnmower for a 1000 sq.ft. lawn vs. a 1 acre lot – but essentially it’s still spinning blades that cut grass.

What is true Systems Engineering?

It isn’t just about “Off the shelf” components… Systems engineering is that intangible part that goes in between components and makes them work! Components don’t work without systems engineering – that is electrical architecture, control software, battery management etc. If everybody has access to the same components, they will still produce systems that are very different in usability, reliability, efficiency and so on.

SmartPTO is the next-gen ePTO. It uses a vetted electric powertrain, complete with its own battery management and controls software, that’s been tested and improved over a decade.

Any truck, Any device, Any hydraulic system – plug and play!

SmartPTO also has telematics that report back on performance and real savings, and enable remote support diagnostics and over-the-air software updates. All of this while being lighter, cheaper, and quieter.

Viatec Awarded NC Smart Fleet Leader at the Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference and Expo 2019

The Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo was held on August 7-8, 2019 in Durham, NC, featuring the latest and greatest technologies in the biofuels, electric, natural gas, propane arenas, and data driven technologies. It featured the best of the best in sustainable fleet practices and alternative fuel innovation.

Naturally, we were delighted to exhibit SmartPTO, the first ever plug and play ePTO in the world.

During the event we were able to connect with professionals from across the industry innovating the way fleets operate in the U.S. The opportunity to showcase SmartPTO as our core message to individuals and organizations progressing sustainable technology into the future. Events like this one are paramount to our continued involvement in pioneering fleet technology in North Carolina and beyond.

Mobile CARE and NC Smart Fleet Awards

Among over fifty speakers and forty exhibitions, The 13th annual North Carolina Mobile Clean Air Renewable Energy (CARE) awards and the NC Smart Fleet awards announcement ceremony was held to recognize organizations at the forefront of carbon dioxide emission reduction technology among utility fleets in North Carolina. Mark Ferri, President here at Viatec was happy to accept the NC Smart Fleet Leader Award on our behalf among others.

We are so thankful to the NC Clean Energy Technology Center for this accolade as an anti-idling technology leader in the area.


Mark Ferri Accepting Mobile CARE and NC Smart Fleet Leader Award

Here is what the NC Clean Energy Technology Center had to say on Linkedin