Today, we want to take a closer look on the insights, trends, and benchmarks regarding the maintenance of heavy-duty equipment and Class 6 – 8 trucks. The heavy-duty repair category is defined as independent and internal shops focused on maintaining Class 6 – 8 vehicles. These vehicles are represented by agricultural machinery, emergency vehicles, construction equipment, heavy machinery, commercial fleets, big trucks and so much more. How do we come by this data? We look a quantitative sampling of repair shops using a shop management system and data from it. And we also use data from qualitative survey respondents.
Our goal is for article to be transparent and unbiased. As you get through the blog, we’ll provide additional information on how we collected the data, as well as the methodology we used for analysis. Keep in mind that while this comprehensive data set provides benchmarks across a wide range of types of businesses, there are numerous factors to be considered when comparing at an individual level. That’s why you want to make sure to properly evaluate the data as it is given.
Immediate Heavy-Duty Repair Touchpoints
Heavy trucks perform heavy duty work. To keep them running smoothly, routine checks and preventive maintenance are mandatory as this can increase performance and safety. It also helps avoid major repair costs as operational problems which can be detected early and rectified in a timely manner. This is an especially important factor as you work on heavy duty commercial motor vehicles because they require a higher level of care and different components.
Do you have technicians in-house or will you use a vendor? Ensure you stay in touch with an experienced and skilled mechanic who is trained to maintain heavy trucks. Having the operations and maintenance manual that came at the time of purchase within easy access represents another important consideration. Why? Because the manual contains information about how frequently maintenance must be transported out, the procedure for lubrication, fluid and oil level checks, emission control and other critical specifications.
We talk a lot about preventative maintenance, and we do that because it is incredibly important. It is even more important for heavy duty vehicles. Should one break down because you did not complete preventative maintenance, you will be worse off than if it were a small van or truck. When planning your heavy-duty preventative maintenance calendar, consider the following factors:
A planned preventative maintenance schedule is important based on the:
- Distance the vehicle covered
- Wear and tear on the vehicle
- Overall driving conditions
- The speed at which the vehicle is driven
- The number of loads carried
Focusing on the above elements will determine the wear and tear on the truck since higher speeds mean higher maintenance and heavier loads mean a lot more servicing hours. Maintenance manuals usually recommend the optimum schedule and the one most suitable can be selected and implemented from the choice available.
A Closer Look at Heavy-Duty Preventative Maintenance
Preventive maintenance basically helps diesel technicians to identify and tackle problems that could lead to larger issues, avoiding heavy-duty down time, which no one likes. Heavy-duty PM involves checking engine oil and tire pressure and a list of standard maintenance activities.
The truck driver or shop technician should be able to perform the following duties, checking the windshield wipers, lights, air and oil filters, coolant, brakes, belts and hoses, seals, transmission system, batteries, drive line, steering, clutch, suspension, and exhaust manifold and system. The heavy truck must also meet the requirements of the transport authorities, should they check it while they are on route. An annual inspection is also usually done, to check compliance with safety rules.
First, place a focus on fuel and storage tanks. You want to make sure you schedule testing for contamination in the tanks to ensure that they don’t become overly contaminated, which will negatively impact truck performance. During the wintertime, carry out moisture control treatment to avoid water clogging in the fuel to avoid breeding bacteria.
Removing bad water also ensures that bacteria cannot survive. Use fuel anti-gel so that fuel and oil can flow freely. These are small factors that make a big difference in truck performance. This will minimize downtime, not to mention costs related to repairs. Refer to the OEM’s specifications on how much to use, especially if the vehicle is still covered by warranty.
Don’t Forget All the Parts, Usage, and Mileage
Let’s focus on other aspects of your heavy-duty vehicle that require consideration. Next up: Tire pressure! Tire pressure must be checked regularly as this can extend its life, as well as maximize fuel efficiency. When tires are not properly inflated, it can lead to problems with the body, alignment, steering, traction, and braking. It goes without saying that refueling must be done at reputable places.
Also, double check your fuel filters. This is not one area you want to casually overlook. Next, check the battery’s life, its connections, and its mooring. If the battery has got to go or if there are other problems, do not hesitate to replace it. The battery is far too important to not thoroughly check and replace if necessary. A dead battery is the worst thing.
You also want to make sure your vehicle is properly lubricated under the hood. Lubrication is a critical maintenance requirement. It should include many parts, so make sure you set up a checklist to ensure you check all the various heavy-duty truck parts that need proper lubrication. This includes the wheels, pins, undercarriages, etc.
The cooling system is another critical area that must stay in good working order no matter what. Make sure you check radiator, belts, and cooling system as a whole. Carrying out repairs and thinking of maintenance only when there is a break down is not advisable, since it can be a drain on your finances. The truck’s usage and mileage must be tracked regularly as this can help plan maintenance activities before they develop into major costly repairs.
Workplace Safety is an Important Component
Class 6 – 8 commercial motor vehicles are large and can be dangerous, even when they are sitting idle. Workplace safety is an important aspect of your job. You need to maintain a safe shop environment and gain skills around how to safely handle hazardous products. There are several things that can contribute to shop safety issues, and you need to make sure you avoid them.
Consider the following:
- Falling materials and loads.
- Equipment operator blind spots.
- An operator dismounting and leaving equipment in gear, or not setting the brakes or wheel chocks.
- Equipment tip-over or rollover.
- Equipment or controls not locked out during maintenance.
Consider pre-planning your work for greater emphasis on safety. Always used certified equipment and try to have a spotter there if you are conducting particularly dangerous work. Fleet managers should provide heavy equipment hazard awareness training. Companies that push a culture of safety seem particularly good at this aspect.
Familiarity with the equipment is critical to ensure repair jobs are competed on-time and without injury. You must be clear of equipment before operating. Avoid overloading vehicles and make sure you inspect all your equipment and ensure everything is in the right place before the end of your shift.
The Timing of Heavy-Duty Vehicle Maintenance
Most handbooks allude to the fact that you should schedule maintenance based on mileages or on a certain date. However, modern heavy-duty trucking fleets are scheduling differently – based on engine hours.
This could be for newer models, however. Fleet managers that employ this method are doing it because various trucks work very hard to travel only a couple of miles. This can result in dozens of hours only to pass 50 miles. So, naturally, this means that you cannot take into consideration mileages as a natural means of scheduling maintenance – your truck would simply break down before you could schedule.
A lot of stopping, starting, and idling goes into these trucks, so the best possible option is to do it based on engine hours. As we said, different fleets will schedule differently, but for those that involve a lot of stopping, starting, and idling, engine hours is quite possibly the safest method.
Do you run Class 6 – 8 heavy duty commercial motor vehicles? If so, we hope you keep these tips in mind. Large CMVs like this require a certain level of care. To stay safe on the road, make sure your people understand and easily carry out your instructions. Only this way will you hit the road to profitability with few problems.