Never consider downtime as a time to relax and put your feet up. For urban and interstate fleets downtime is the thorn in their sides. It keeps their truck drivers from making service calls and keeping delivery appointments on time. A truck in the shop or stranded on the side of the road is a financial liability, and every unplanned minute it sits there is another dollar lost. Do you want your fleet to unnecessarily bleed money?
There is something more to consider when it comes to uptime. Uptime is a term that fleet managers of all shapes and sizes base their budgets off of. It means their vehicles are on the road, running their routes, and adding to the business’ revenue stream. It can mean the difference between running in the red or making it into the black at the end of the year. That’s why ensuring uptime is so important.
Why Should Fleets Focus on Uptime?
With every link in the supply chain as important as the next, it’s no surprise that urban and interstate fleets have consistent uptime on the mind. Ensuring their vehicles are running always guarantees that they make it to their destination on time. Shippers are happy and truck drivers are less stressed on the road. You know that with the bump in online retail over the past 18 months, shipping lanes are busier than ever.
Urban trucking companies transport goods from warehouses and fulfillment centers to homes and businesses. They are a critical component in the supply chain. This last step in the process is crucial, as it is the most customer-facing, with all the praise or criticism directed at these drivers and technicians, no matter who may or may not have dropped the ball along the way.
A late delivery or appointment can mean more than just missing a customer commitment, it can damage a fleet’s reputation, which can result in a loss of business. The last thing any fleet manager or executive needs or wants is both a loss in reputation and a decline in business. Uptime is critical to ensuring that loss of business and hit to your reputation never happens.
Did you know that over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas? This represents a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. With this much riding on these fleets, you can imagine the domino effect downtime can cause. Urban fleets service a lot of people. Any disruption could cripple a company regardless of size or time in business.
How Best to Measure Fleet Downtime
There are a lot of factors that make up measuring the costs associated with running a trucking company. From truck drivers and their pay to the replacement of vehicle components like tires and trailers. When estimating the costs of truck downtime, fleet managers need to consider the truck drivers that are being paid without having a vehicle to use.
Just consider for a moment the business being lost every day your equipment is in the shop. And consider the costs of repairing or replacing something that should have been swapped out during the last routine maintenance check. Replacing parts that were missed during routine or preventative maintenance is the worst of al rubs.
Take tires as one example. Tires are one of the most crucial components of your trucks. They must be properly maintained during appropriate intervals. They keep truck drivers safe in unpredictable weather conditions and throughout dense city streets and interstate highways. If you run your fleet on tires that do not meet your daily road requirements, your tire replacement costs — and the related downtime they necessitate — not only are you risking your truck driver’s health and safety, but you could also ruin your bottom line and lose precious business.
Ask the Right Questions About Your Maintenance and Uptime Programs
While experience can help when it comes to figuring out the right tires for your truck and application, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to your local experts. When was the last time you spoke with someone from your local tire dealership? After all, they eat, sleep, and breathe tires every single day. As a result, they will have all the answers to some of the more technical questions. Because when it comes to choosing the right tire for the right application, do you or your technicians have all the answers?
Have a chat with your dealer when you spec your vehicles. Make sure you get the process right so that you get the right fit from the start. Here are some questions you can consider as you set about getting the right tires. What tires are the recommended fitments for my vehicles? Also, what are my options considering my urban environment and seasonal weather conditions? And finally, what are your top three recommendations and how do they differ in price, reliability, and lifespan?
You must ask the right questions and conduct proper due diligence before investing in vehicle equipment. Make sure your tires and every other part on a moving vehicle is properly maintained at well-known intervals. But more than that, work to ensure your truck drivers buy into the equipment you buy. After all, they will be the ones using it every day.
Top Tips for Truck Driver Buy-In
Truck drivers can make all the difference when it comes to providing a safer driving experience. They are your first line of defense when it comes to ensuring your tires are performing correctly and securely. That’s why it’s even more important to give them proper training to maintain the tires on their vehicles. How much do you invest in maintenance uptraining? It could be the deciding factor between a running truck and failure on the road.
Before even your truck drivers put a key into the ignition, they should always ensure their tires are going are ready to function throughout their route. In the end it is the fleet manager’s job to make sure they are doing this. Educate your truck drivers on simple self-service steps, such as checking tire pressure. An under- or over-inflated tire can be dangerous. It can cause numerous on-road problems, and even result in an accident. Truck drivers should always check that their tires are inflated to the recommended level before they head out to make a delivery.
According to most tire OEMs, tire pressure decreases about 2psi for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit. When it gets cold, your tire pressure drops. The best time to check your tire pressure is first thing in the morning before you set out. You could also check after the tires haven’t been in operation for several hours. You must always be analyzing tire data.
Final Tire Checking Considerations
Consider other important tire factors, such as tread. Proper tread depth keeps your wheels on the road and your truck driver safe and secure in the cab. Any significant changes in tire tread should be immediately reported and acted upon before that truck hits the road again. This also gives truck drivers a chance to look for worn tread and to make sure nails or other debris is lodged into the tire.
You want to also make sure your truck drivers are always keeping an eye on tire depth. Also, make sure you use a tire depth gauge. There are several tire depth gauges available that can quickly and more precisely tell if a tire has low tread. Your front-line fleet drivers need to make sure they keep track of this information. From technician on down, something as simple as tire depth must always be known.
Here is a fact, you need to ensure your truck drivers are always safe. Whether they are completing last-mile urban deliveries or driving hauls between interstate routes. Keeping truck drivers educated on tire maintenance not only creates a safer driving experience, but it also keeps them happy. It serves as a retention tool and makes their jobs easier and more accommodating.
Truck driver retention is a problem that did not go away when the pandemic hit — it increased. And with business booming for last-mile and long-haul fleets, you want to make sure your truck drivers are exactly where they should be — behind the wheel. Safe, long-lasting tires can increase truck driver satisfaction and retention levels, no matter the size of your fleet. Without them, you won’t make it there on time — and your customers will turn to your competitors.