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Beyond good truck specs

Truck Spec'ing remains a complicated matter. Nowadays, the emphasis is on reducing operating costs, increasing efficiency, and enhancing safety.

I've discovered the refrigerated fleets that have the most success with equipment specification follow certain procedures. First, they review current and previous equipment specs to see which ones have been effective in meeting the expectations and requirements for their vehicles.

They then conduct research to determine the appropriate specifications and any optional components for their vehicles' intended application and operation. They take into account equipment that impacts truck productivity, efficiency, reliability, dependability, and performance; fuel economy; maintenance expense; driver ergonomics; and vehicle life cycle costs.

Obviously, all fleets want to spend as little money as possible when acquiring new equipment. However, the more successful fleets understand that total cost of ownership is more important than initial acquisition cost.

Another common trait among these fleets is the knowledge that regardless of how well a vehicle is spec'd, specs alone will not guarantee performance. Good vehicle maintenance and driver training are just as important. For no matter how well specified, components won't always continue to do the job unless they are properly operated and maintained.

The more successful refrigerated carriers have created effective maintenance programs developed to control costs, increase productivity, optimize truck performance, and minimize downtime.

Do you have such a program in place? Do you adhere to it?

Does the program track enough of the right information for managers to make informed maintenance decisions? Is there the ability to identify reoccurring problems? Are you able to measure life cycle costs?

Making this happen is no easy feat. That is the reason some fleets have turned to outsourcing their vehicle service and maintenance.

The more successful refrigerated carriers also know that drivers have a significant impact on truck performance and life. All too often, new vehicles and add-on equipment are simply placed into operation with little thought given to informing drivers about the whys and how tos.

Just the opposite is the case with the more successful carriers. They provide their drivers with familiarization training on any new equipment, explaining the purpose and functions, as well as supplying practical instruction on proper operation.

As one fleet manager told me: “If drivers don't understand how to use a new feature or component, any benefits won't be realized and the product could even be damaged.”

There's no question that devoting the necessary time and effort to selecting the proper vehicle specifications can pay big dividends. However, to assure this will occur, drivers must be trained, and a vehicle maintenance program must be well designed.

By combining these three elements, repair costs are kept to a minimum, vehicle uptime is maximized, and overall life cycle costs are lowered.

Beyond this, you protect your equipment investment and your commitments to customers.

Improper vehicle specs and inefficient and inadequately planned driver training and maintenance programs, conversely, cost time, money, and business.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

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