Monthly Archives: June 2017

Choosing Truck Tires Based On Their Application

Trucking is a sprawling industry, touching on everything from manufacturing to construction and agriculture. As such, there will be times when a tractor – specifically those used in construction, logging and other off-road applications – will be put into a situation where tire damage can occur.

So what’s an enterprising fleet manager to do about it? You need to know you’re spec’ing the right tires for the job.

Ask the Right Questions

When you are preparing to make tire purchasing decisions, make sure you are asking yourself the right questions.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Does resistance or toughness matter more?
  • Does the application result in chips and tears?
  • Do you need on- or off-road traction?
  • How much time will the truck spend off-road?
  • How severe is the terrain the truck will be operating in?
  • How important is fuel economy compared to terrain-related tire failure risk?

Take, for example a fleet that transports aggregate, logs or cement. If the truck has to transport the commodity from a facility that is more than 100 miles away, the truck will spend at least a fraction of the time on rough ground. This means the truck will need some type of traction or cut resistance.

Still, the truck will be spending most of its time on the highway traveling at highway speeds. So, in this case, fuel economy may be more important. In this application, a fleet manager may choose to go with a lug-type tire that offers a measure of traction and durability without sacrificing fuel economy.

Depending on Application

In other capacities, you may find that trucks operating in certain vocational applications, whether they be concrete mixers or dump trucks, will be subject to a varying level of stress. Operating in cities increases the chance of running up against a curb or large rock, whether in the city or on the job site.

Trucks used in vocational applications will likely also spend less time on the highway operating at highway speeds, meaning fuel economy wouldn’t be the largest concern. Instead, the ability to resist damage and premature wear would be the primary focus.

Some tire manufacturers refer to this balance as the performance triangle. The three points represent vocation, application and wheel position weighed against toughness, wear and fuel efficiency.

How well the tire performs in one aspect is directly related to the other aspects of the tire. If a tire is weighted more towards low-rolling resistance, then other aspects of its performance may be reduced. As manufacturers continually try to refine their methods, accentuating one side of the performance triangle over another will have a measurable impact, whether for better or for worse.


Deciding the Exposure Level

When you are selecting the right tire for the job, you need to consider the amount of time it spends operating in a particular road application. Once you have isolated the conditions, you can choose a tire with a right balance of performance qualities.

Choosing the right tire for the job shouldn’t be a roll of the dice. The last thing any fleet manager wants is truck tires failing left and right across the fleet. Whether you are looking at it from the angle of retreads or otherwise, always consider time and duration to certain exposure elements, whether it be gravel, dirt roads, ice or snow.

Remember, a casing is a terrible thing to waste. You’ve spent good money on the tires that keep your trucks ruling the road. Make careful considerations before going on a willy-nilly tire spending spree. A proper tire maintenance program, which includes the right casings for the application, when combined with regular maintenance, will keep your fleet rolling smoothly no matter where your tractors go.

Trucking Companies Ask – How Many Points For Which Infraction? Part I

The fact is vehicle violations can be a big deal, especially depending on what they are. Under the Department of Transportation’s there are several regulations that directly impact truck drivers.

The policies are put into place to keep truck drivers and everyone else on the road safe and sound, but do you know what all the violations are, how many points they incur, and where you can find them in the FMCSRs?

So, we wanted to take a moment in our blog to leave you with a valuable resource on how you can find more information regarding specific violations. In our first look, we will list everything from 10 – 6 points. These represent the most serious violations. Join us in our next installment when we examine 5 – 1 point, the less serious, but still important violations.

10 Points

  • Operating on out-of-service vehicle – 396.9

8 Points

  • Violating the airbrake restriction – 383.95
  • Flat tire or fabric exposed – 393.75
  • Ply or belt material exposed on a tire – 393.75
  • Tread or sidewall separation – 393.75
  • Flat tire with or without an audible air leak – 393.75
  • Cut exposing ply and/or belt material on a tire – 393.75
  • Tire front tread depth less than 4/32 of an inch – 393.75
  • Other tire tread depth less than 2/32 of an inch – 393.75

7 Points

  • Failure to use a seatbelt – 392.16
  • Leaking/spilling/blowing/falling cargo – 393.100
  • No equivalent means of securement – 393.102
  • Short, over 1/3 length past structure – 393.116
  • Short, insufficient, or missing tie downs – 393.116
  • Short, tie downs improperly positioned – 393.116
  • Short, no center stakes/high log not secured – 393.116
  • Short, length; improper securement – 393.116
  • Improper placement of bundles – 393.118
  • Coil/vertical improper securement – 393.120
  • Coils, rows, eyes vertical improper securement – 393.120
  • Coil/eye crosswise improper securement – 393.120
  • X-pattern on coils with eyes crosswise – 393.120
  • Coil with eye lengthwise improper securement – 393.120
  • Coils, rows, eyes length improper securement – 393.120
  • Rolls vertical – improper securement – 393.122
  • Rolls vertical/split – improper securement – 393.122
  • Rolls vertical/stacked – improper securement – 393.122
  • Rolls crosswise – improper securement – 393.122
  • Rolls crosswise/stacked load – improper securement- 393.122
  • Rolls length – improper securement – 393.122
  • Rolls lengthwise/stacked – improper securement – 393.122
  • Improper securement – rolls on flatbed/curtain sided vehicle – 393.122
  • Improper blocking of concrete pipe – 393.124
  • Improper arrangement of concrete pipe – 393.124
  • Improper securement, up to 45 inches diameter – 393.124
  • Improper securement, over 45 inches diameter – 393.124
  • Front and rear end of container not secured independently – 393.126
  • Empty container, more than five foot overhang – 393.126
  • Empty container not properly secured – 393.126
  • All corners of chassis not secured – 393.126
  • Empty container not positioned properly – 393.126
  • Front and rear of vehicle not secured – 393.128
  • Tie downs not affixed to mounting points – 393.128
  • Tie downs not over or around wheels – 393.128
  • Item not properly prepared for transport – 393.130
  • Improper restraint/securement of item – 393.130
  • Insufficient means to retain loose parts – 393.132
  • Container not secured to front of vehicle – 393.134
  • Rear of container not properly secured – 393.134
  • Improper placement/positioning of boulder – 393.136
  • Boulder not secured with chain – 393.136
  • Improper securement – cubic boulder – 393.136
  • Improper securement – non-cubic boulder with stable base – 393.136
  • Improper securement – non-cubic boulder with unstable base – 393.136
  • Axle positioning parts defective or missing – 393.207
  • Adjustable axle locking pin missing or disengaged – 393.207
  • Leaf spring assembly defective or missing – 393.207
  • Coil spring cracked and/or broken – 393.207
  • Torsion bar cracked and/or broken – 393.207
  • Air suspension pressure loss – 393.207

6 Points

  • Inoperative head lamps – 393.9
  • Inoperative tail lamp – 393.9
  • Inoperative turn signal – 393.9
  • Either none, or defective lamps, on a towing unit in a tow-away operation – 393.17
  • Either none, or defective, tow-away lamps on rear unit – 393.17
  • Inoperative and/or defective hazard warning lamp – 393.19
  • Required lamp not powered by vehicle electricity – 393.23
  • Non-compliance with headlamp requirements – 393.24
  • Non-compliant fog and/or driving lamps – 393.24
  • Lamps are not visible as required – 393.25
  • Lamp not steady burning – 393.25
  • Stop lamp violations – 393.25
  • Operating a CMV with lamps or reflectors obscured – 392.33
  • Steering wheel not secured or is broken – 393.209
  • Excessive steering wheel lash – 393.209
  • Loose steering column – 393.209
  • Steering system components worn/welded/missing – 393.209
  • Power steering violations – 393.209


What To Expect When You are Expecting A DOT Inspection

Whether you like it or not, all commercial motor vehicles (CMV) that ring in over 10,000 pounds must have an annual DOT inspection carried out. This essentially means that the Department of Transportation (DOT) will inspect the vehicle to ensure all the parts and accessories are in good working condition.

Three are six different types of a DOT inspection. In this week’s post, we are going to take a closer look at each initial type of inspection. In our next look at the DOT inspection series, we are going to dig deeper on what you should do in the case that a DOT inspection strikes.

DOT Inspection One – Standard North American Inspection

In this first, basic level of an inspection, the DOT inspector will do a thorough check of the truck drivers documents and logs. While inspecting the logs, the inspector will also check impairment, for drugs, alcohol or other hazardous materials.

Inspectors will be checking for:

  • Driver’s license
  • Driver’s daily log
  • Hours of service information
  • Medical card and waiver
  • Alcohol and/or drugs
  • Hazmat information or requirements

When the vehicle is examined, the inspector will pay extra special attention to the following:

  • Seat belts
  • Brakes
  • Lamps
  • Coupling devices
  • The exhaust system
  • Applicable emergency exists and electrical systems
  • Engine and battery systems and compartments
  • Vehicle frame
  • Fuel system
  • Headlamps
  • Tail lamps
  • Suspension
  • Signals
  • The trailer
  • Wheels and associated attachments
  • Wipers

DOT Inspection Two – Walk-Around Inspection

The number two inspection is pretty much the same as the number one inspection, but in this case the inspector doesn’t take a look at any parts of the vehicle that would require he or she to have to crawl under the truck.

The best way to ensure you are doing everything properly and are fully prepared to exit the inspection with a top score is to keep a DOT truck driver checklist or mobile app with you at all times. This way you can learn exactly what you need at exactly the moment you need it.

After all, being prepared is the only way to ensure you keep your safety profile looking and sounding fantastic.

DOT Inspection Three – Truck Driver Inspection

At this level of inspection, the inspector is concerned with one thing and one thing only: You.

They will make sure to check:

  • Driver’s license
  • Medical card
  • Daily log
  • Seat belt
  • Vehicle inspection report
  • Incident history
  • Hazmat (if applicable)

DOT Inspection Four – Special Inspection

This type of inspection is an examination focusing on a particular feature of the vehicle, whether it be the brakes, suspension, drive line or other mechanical component.

When this type of inspection occurs, it is generally done to verify a feature or mechanical component that needs a second look after a maintenance repair or refurbishing.

Whether it is to validate or invalidate a claim, this is usually done at the inspection level.

DOT Inspection Five – Vehicle-centric Inspection

A vehicle-only inspection is pretty much the same as a Level One DOT, except in this case the truck driver themselves are not present.

DOT Inspection Six – Enhanced Radioactive Inspection

All heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles that transport controlled quantities of radioactive materials must pass a standard Level Six.

These include inspecting for:

  • Radiological shipments
  • Procedural item
  • Level One enhancements
  • Out-of-service criteria

So with all the new inspection styles hitting the block, the next question is, how would a responsible truck driver keep himself in good shape when an inspection rolls around?

Well, we ae going to answer just that question in our next blog post when we examine the best strategies for breezing through your next surprise DOT inspection.

Truck Drivers – How To Prepare For And Survive A DOT Inspection

We recently covered all the different types of Department of Transportation (DOT) inspections that you could find yourself at the receiving end of. But the question is, what do you do?

The fact is, professional truck drivers should learn the dangers of driving a defective commercial motor vehicle and become proficient in detecting and reporting problems. You’ll want to make sure you catch the problem before it either grows into a bigger problem or gets you hit with a ding on your next inspection.

What to Check

First, start with checking all your vehicle’s equipment. Although your tires may rarely blow out, they may have deflated a little or have sidewall damage. You’ll want to check them for proper inflation by using a digital pressure gauge.

Another thing to consider are the rules and regulation surrounding the use of mud flaps in your state. In some states splashguards and mud flaps are required.

Also, ensure all your lights are in functioning working order. Check both your break, headlights, high and low beams.

Finally, address any cracks you find, even small window cracks. They can quickly become much worse if they aren’t immediately addressed. Flying gravel can cause hairline cracks and stars, which you can be penalized for in a DOT inspection.

Cleanliness and Documentation

Your vehicle could be in the best shape it has ever been in, but if your cab isn’t neat and tidy, you’re already giving the inspector a bad impression, which could lead him or her to be even more thorough.

But if your house is in order, with documents and a fire extinguisher all where they need to be, the inspection process will run very smoothly.

Here’s what you need to know to be completely prepared:

  • Keep your cab clean
  • Have your documents in order and in an easy-to-inspect format
    • Driver’s license
    • Medical examiner’s certificate
    • Driver’s record of duty status
    • Annual inspection documentation
    • If applicable, hazardous materials paperwork
    • Permit credentials

The more you keep your truck and documents in order, the more likely you are to pass a DOT inspection with flying colors.

Proper Attitude

When it comes to dealing with an inspector, attitude is everything. While it isn’t in the books, one of the critical factors in passing an inspection is the truck driver’s behavior.

If you start off by arguing with the inspector, it is more likely they will opt for a Level I inspection and find anything they can that may not be within code. The fact is, when you have a better attitude, it’s likely you’ll have a better experience.

Another thing to consider is how forthcoming you are with something you found wrong after leaving the terminal. You’ll want to inform the inspector that you discovered the problem during your pre-trip inspection or upon leaving the terminal. Inspectors understand that things happen between trips, so it’s important to be honest.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to making it through a DOT inspection unscathed, you’ve got to be courteous, be organized and be prepared. If your truck is well-maintained and your documents all put together, all you need to do is keep a good attitude with the inspector and you should be just fine.

As a professional truck driver, you know your job goes beyond the simple movement of a load from Point A to Point B. It also includes managing inspections and dealing with inspectors.

If there’s nothing to cite, then they won’t cite you. Follow the guidelines at all times and don’t give an inspector a reason to pick on you and you’ll be smooth riding down the road with no problems at all.

Fleet Technologies Reaching Maximum Fuel Efficiency Potential

As manufacturing and old rust-belt jobs disappear across the country, many communities are turning into tech innovation hubs. Cities that had once seen their fortunes lag now look to technology as a way to boost their local economies.

Take Rochester, New York as an example. While this once considered the Flour City before manufacturing took over, for many years it languished as a shadow of its former self. With manufacturing giants like Kodak and Xerox headquartered now nothing more than empty shells, information technology is taking over.

Fleet technologies companies are filling a vacuum across the country as technology changes the way trucking gets done. The roots of many of these beginnings can be found in public/private partnerships.

From Military to Civilian

One fleet technology company was contacted in 2002 when the Office of Naval Research needed to modernize some of its Marine Corps naval vehicles. The military needed advances systems that could electronically diagnose capabilities, malfunctions and more.

Over time, research teams developed failure analysis systems and sensors. A controller area network was created to capture and allow data to be analyzed in real-time. The systems they developed validated the accuracy of sensor data to predict vehicle maintenance

Today, Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) operators have real-time predictive information on such intricate details as how many miles are left before a specific component may fail. Critical parameters are monitored constantly and colored readouts report functionality back to the LAV operator.

As the team worked on the program, they realized these technologies could be cross-adapted from the military to the civilian world. Suddenly this was beyond what could be done for the military, but for what could be done for the supply chain.

Naturally, many of the companies working on these advances systems moved quickly into leveraging the technology for commercial purposes.

One such company uses the predictive fleet maintenance technology not to determine maintenance schedules or component failures, but to maximize fuel efficiency.

Through the use of these advanced systems, fleets are seeing mpg improvements in the area of up to ten percent within the first year of deploying the technology. When combined, savings like these can really add up.

Behind the Technology

Another technological breakthrough came in the Internet of Things (IoT). When combined with powerful computing and analytics systems, computing devices installed on big rigs can capture real-time data and perform advanced fuel economy analysis and projections.

Devices can be mounted on the top of a dashboard, or perhaps under it. Cable connections connect into the tractor’s diagnostics port. A cellular modem is used. The thing is small, maybe the size of a hockey puck. Likely these devices will continue to decrease in size.

As soon as the vehicle is started, a continuous stream of sensor data begins transmission. Everything from drive train to torque curve and other vital parametrics are analyzed real-time by an advanced algorithm.

How It’s Used

There is enormous potential with this technology. From real-time fuel coaching to providing online fuel management and dashboard information, technologies like these can calculate both the real and potential mpg of a vehicle, both while stopped and in motion, as long as it is started.

By using these technologies, fleets can maximize their fuel potential without having to undergo any major hardware upgrades or shifts in fleet technology. Behaviors like speeding, idling and engine control can be continuously monitored and coached to. At the end of a trip, the operator can be given a score.

By allowing truck drivers to be active participants in managing their fuel efficiency numbers, motor carriers harness the power of technology to ensure