Andy Hardwick, General Manager Technical Support
“A lot of workshop engineers probably started as curious youngsters, fiddling around with car engines at home before they trained to do it as a career, but you just can’t do that safely with an electric vehicle,” said Aftermarket Director Geoff Rigg.
“Most repair and maintenance teams around the country won’t have much experience with HV systems. But that’s quite helpful because they can be shown how to do it safely from the start,” explains Geoff.
The Health and Safety Executive has put the onus on different industries to develop appropriate standards for EV safety. So, as the first OEM to produce an eRCV, Dennis Eagle has created a blueprint for their safe repair and maintenance.
“We are well-placed to develop these standards. Our design and test engineers first established safe working practices when building hybrid RCVs 10 years ago and we’ve developed them specifically for different aspects of the Dennis Eagle operation. It means our production teams, field service and repair and maintenance teams all have clear and specific sets of safety rules and procedures. And we’ll share these too.”
Some fundamental practices demonstrate just how much emphasis we put on EV safety. In our workshops, eCollects are fenced off so the only people who approach them are those working on them – and we’re very clear about who that can be. We’ve also developed a traffic light system, indicating the state of an electric vehicle. An unmissable coloured card in the windscreen informs everyone: Red means don’t approach, Amber shows the vehicle is working normally and Green indicates the electrical systems are totally isolated.
Our High Voltage Board is a safety kit which includes a defibrillator, a charge meter, a long-handled electrically-insulated rubber hook and a first aid kit. Padlock switches on the eCollect, used for electrical isolation, are put on the board away from the truck so it can’t be accidentally reactivated. This kit is also available to customers. Underpinning these are those hard and fast rules about who can and who can not work on an EV.
“Nobody can carry out repair and maintenance work on an electric truck in any way – not even to change a windscreen wiper – unless they have successfully completed the Electric Vehicle Foundation Training course. This rule applies to all Dennis Eagle staff, wherever they are working. We strongly recommend that our customers adopt it too. And this half-day course for eCollect customers can also be delivered on Microsoft Teams. Alternatively, full repair and maintenance contracts are available for our electric vehicles, just as they are for our conventional vehicles, which some operators will find an easier introduction to EVs,” said Geoff Rigg.
For now, only Dennis Eagle engineers who have undergone more detailed HV training will be authorised to work on a vehicle’s high voltage components. This not only ensures safety but also totally reliable maintenance while the new vehicle is settling in.
Authorised staff will be available in each service centre and in workshops where we have EV repair and maintenance contracts. “Our training goes way beyond repair and maintenance teams and covers the whole operation,” added Geoff.
“Starting with the basics, we’ve produced a short awareness video. It helps people identify electric vehicles and what precautions to take around them. All Dennis Eagle staff will see this and visitors to our production or service facilities will be shown it at reception before they’re allowed in. It is fundamentally important. Without it, our traffic light system would be pointless.”
“Other aspects of the Aftermarket support, such as ordering spare parts, dealing with warranties and learning from DEConnect, are the same as with diesel RCVs. There is a lot for operators to get their heads around but it’s a journey everyone will take in due course. And if anyone needs reassurance, we’re here to help them every step of the way.”