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Catching up on fleet maintenance

May 12, 2020
Take advantage of slow periods to keep your fleet in prime condition.

Trucking is like any other industry in that demand can fluctuate from one day to the next. Though freight is typically steady, certain situations such as the current COVID-19 pandemic can cause a significant drop-off. After all, the vast majority of consumers are complying with governmental stay-at-home orders, meaning stores require less stock of non-essential items, restaurants aren’t receiving their regular deliveries, and auto dealerships are full of inventory.

While this isn’t the news any fleet wants to hear, there are ways to make the best of a less-than-ideal situation. Now is the time to take advantage of the lull to catch up on vehicle maintenance that was being put off, update your technicians’ training, research ways to streamline your operation, and try out new practices you’ve been waiting for “just the right time” to implement.

Catch up on maintenance

When shipping demand is reduced, not all of your trucks may need to be on the road, meaning they can be rotated out of service to catch up on any maintenance that had been put off in busier times. While tasks such as oil changes are likely kept up-to-date, less pressing and more time-consuming items such as diagnosing a cabin air leak may have been pushed off.

Perhaps now is the time to go through each vehicles’ brakes and replace any shoes, pads, and rotors that are getting close to end-of-life, upgrade interior and exterior lighting to LED, and ensure each truck has the latest software updates installed. Any service or maintenance items that can be completed now will improve your fleet’s uptime when the world gets back to normal and your trucks are all on the road once again.

Catch up on training

While demand in the bay is reduced, technicians may find themselves with more time on their hands, making it the perfect opportunity to implement any training that had been on hold. Most in-person classroom sessions have been postponed, but virtual training is available and can be just as effective.

From virtual trade shows to online certification classes, there are numerous options to continue training when it’s not possible in person. Keeping technicians updated on the latest tools, technologies, and maintenance practices is crucial to keeping each bay operating smoothly and efficiently.

Catch up on cleaning

Speaking of keeping your bays in order, now would be a good time for a thorough cleaning and organization of the shop. Move equipment and toolboxes away from the walls and sweep those dusty corners that have been neglected for years. Clear off any work surfaces, organize those bins of odds and ends, clean and service all the power tools, and update the shop scan tools. A clean shop is an efficient shop, and while it may not be the most fun task to complete, everyone will appreciate it when it’s done.

In addition to cleaning the shop, some of your trucks may be overdue for a thorough scrub. Vacuum and clean the cabs to keep the drivers happy, wash and wax the exteriors to maintain the paint, and polish the wheels. Each truck is a rolling billboard for your fleet, so while it may seem superficial, it’s important to keep them looking their best.

Catch up on reading

Keeping technicians up-to-date with the latest training is vitally important, but it’s also crucial for you to stay current on industry trends. Brush up with some light reading in trade magazines and other news outlets. Check out online forums to see what practices your peers are implementing that might be useful in your shop. Research that latest maintenance practice you’ve been considering implementing with your fleet and find what resources you’ll need to test it and make it happen.

The current situation is certainly unprecedented. Make the best of it by focusing on the maintenance, training, and research needed to ensure your fleet will emerge from this in top condition and competitive as ever.

About the Author

David Brierley | Editor | Fleet Maintenance

David Brierley is a former editor of Fleet Maintenance magazine.

Brierley’s education and career have been based in the publishing industry. He is an award-winning writer and comes from a background in automotive, trucking, and heavy equipment. Brierley joined the Endeavor Business Media vehicle repair group in 2017 as managing editor for Fleet Maintenance, PTEN, and Professional Distributor magazines, as well as VehicleServicePros.com. In his current role, he writes for and oversees production of Fleet Maintenance magazine. He has worked in the publishing industry since 2011.

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