Viatec Takes ePTO From Workaround Tool to Revolutionary Product
November 21, 2022

epto: The Modern Standard

Electric power take-offs (ePTO) present a modern solution by offering a cleaner, quieter, more dependable source of power—appreciated by workers and neighbors alike. When powering booms, buckets and air conditioners at a job site, the traditional method of a running truck engine or generator is long-outdated.

Yet after decades of evolution, ePTOs have not been without their faults.

Where others have fallen short

Over the last decade, many companies ventured into the world of ePTO production and failed to meet expectations for two consistent reasons. First: They used driveline solutions and adapted them to operate as ePTOs, in essence taking a system from a truck that drives and modifying it for a truck that idles. Second: Most if not all were deeply integrated with the vehicle, rather than a self-contained system that offers redundancy. So when the ePTO is out of commission, the entire truck is. In both of these scenarios, teams operating outside their area of expertise cobbled together the necessary components – electric motor, controller, battery, inverter, etc.—and wove a patchwork-quilt of engineering solutions to make the pieces fit. The result was glitchy performance from a clunky product.

The early days of ePTO products were not pretty. Stories of unworkable trucks at job sites and constant technical issues permeated the industry, souring most companies on the concept.

ENter the viatec product team

Viatec took an entirely new approach. They built a team that focused on the ePTO as the end product. Early on, they partnered with the engineers at Zero Motorcycles, leveraging technology that had already been field-tested and fine-tuned, which allowed them to quickly identify and solve for shortcomings of existing ePTOs and get a jump start on a commercially viable product. The partnership allowed Viatec to move swiftly through the early stages of component sourcing and product development.

They learned from the failures of the past, steering away from integrating with anything that moves a truck and focusing instead on simple, minimal, and universal interfaces with components common to all trucks.

They listened intently to customers and operators, refining the user experience of an ePTO to meet their wants and needs. While this led them to a stronger product most times, they also made such an uncompromising commitment to reliability and performance, that they went so far as to disregard customer feedback every once in a while—when small conveniences could add operational complexity or create potential fail points of any sort. For example, they continued to hear about a desire to recharge the ePTO while driving to allow for longer operating times.

After weighing the minimal benefits to be gained against the potential fail points of integrating a charging system with a drivetrain, the Viatec team chose not to include this feature and focus on reliability. Instead, in situations where electric power is not available—such as storm response or a round-the-clock job that completely depletes the battery store—they designed SmartPTO with a redundancy feature, allowing the equipment to be used conventionally, powered by the vehicle engine when necessary.

Smartpto: the proof is in the performance

The front of Viatec's ePTO called SmartPTO on a Terex work truck

Viatec’s ultimate product, SmartPTO, was an instant success in the field. Assembly and installation took hours, not weeks, and operators used the product day in and day out without issue. The only differences observed were decreased fuel costs and a cleaner, quieter job site.

SmartPTO truly was a revolutionary product in the ePTO field, compatible with any vehicle and offering greater reliability than any other ePTO that had ever been on the market.

the industry leader in epto

Now, SmartPTO is the leading product in the field, helping companies electrify their work without compromising on their need for reliability, at a price point that makes the decision even easier.

Looking to the future, the design decisions by the SmartPTO team set it up for even more success as all-electric truck chassis are coming onto the market. It provides complete electric operation with any new electric truck while still maintaining its modularity. This year, SmartPTO was the only working ePTO on an all-electric chassis at the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference.

Using SmartPTO’s success as a launching point, the Viatec team developed an electric generator for work trucks in 2021, called SmartPX, and are putting the finishing touches on their third electric work product. Soon, Viatec products will be able to power any job in the field.

And it all began with a revolutionary approach to a failing product category.