Fleet Maintenance - 8


Real-world views on parts,
service, and operations
Fleets talk resale value and lifecycle evaluations,
parts procurement, and why they keep maintenance in-house.

By Erica


While attending Heavy Duty Aftermarket
Week (HDAW) this past January, a number
of fleets provided insights on their business
operations during a panel discussion of Heavy
Duty Aftermarket Dialogue (HDAD). The panel,
"Parts and Service: The Fleet Perspective,"
offered feedback on topics like assessing
resale value and lifecycle costs, maintenance
management practices, parts procurement, and
new vehicle technologies.
Here are a few key takeaways:
Resale value is a key consideration
with equipment spec'ing
Panelists shared their challenges with vehicle specifications and managing the potential impact of lower resale value. Ploger
Transportation President Tanya Morrow says
her fleet focuses on specifying for fuel efficiency,
but that has sometimes had an adverse impact
on resale value. In particular, the resale value
for trucks specified with lower displacement 13L
engines and 6x2 axle configurations have not
seen the same return as the more traditional 15L
engine and 6x4 axle configurations.
Morrow confirms the specifications have
served their fleet well for offering better fuel
efficiency while still performing up to standards. However, industry perception impacted the perceived value of a second-hand sale.
"The acceptance in the industry isn't where
the OEs would like it to be," she says. "It did
impact us negatively. However, [truck OEs] are
really trying to change the perception of that;
in the right application that's a good spec."
Lifecycle averages
continue to decrease
As it relates to vehicle specifications, analyzing
the optimal vehicle lifecycle remains a challenge.
"We need to re-work our trade-in cycle,"
says Bob Phipps, maintenance supervisor for
Bettendorf Trucking. "We try to avoid debt and
have as much paid for as possible."
He shares that the current fleet of 140 trucks
ranges in age from pre-2000, 2010 to 2013, and
brand new trucks. His operation is currently
in the process of phasing out the 2010 to 2013
model year trucks due to the excessive downtime,
caused in large part by aftertreatment issues.
"We're trying to come up with the sweet
spot," Phipps adds. "We are in the process of
what is going to be our best trade-in [value]."
Currently, Phipps estimates his fleet has an
average five-year lifecycle.

8 Fleet Maintenance | February 2020

In the case of Werner Enterprises, Senior Vice
President of Maintenance Scott Reed confirms
the average age of their equipment is currently 1.8 years. Reed says this short lifecycle has
allowed the fleet to operate assets under full
warranty, relying on the dealer for unexpected
repairs and warranty service.
Late-model vehicles have been well-received by a number of panelists, with Ploger
Transportation's Morrow and Bettendorf
Trucking's Phipps both noting that 2019 and
newer trucks have been much more dependable.
Lifecycle assessments are not only tradein value based, but also assessed on maintenance implications. Fleets continue to work
through aftertreatment systems issues,
including diesel particulate filter (DPF) maintenance - which some mentioned was a major
factor in lifecycle assessment, since DPF
issues directly correlated to vehicle age. One
solution was utilizing remanufactured DPFs
for older vehicles rather than maintaining the
unit over the life of the vehicle. Phipps says
Bettendorf Trucking stocks every single DPF
sensor available on the market since the fleet
has many older vehicles. As well as having
sensors on-hand, DPF cleaning is tracked
and worked into the fleet's preventive maintenance (PM) schedule.
In-house preventive maintenance
is still preferred when possible
Conducting most PMs and some general repairs
in-house was a common theme for many of the
panelists. For larger or more involved repairs,
they rely on their dealer network to provide
those services.
"PM is our crisis management," Morrow says.
"We try to be on the preventive side ahead of
time." Acknowledging there will be unplanned
downtime, Ploger maintains units on-hand that
are ready to go into service should another unit
be out of commission. The fleet also keeps vital
parts stocked to stay ahead of critical failures
and keep downtime at a minimum.
A large part of dedicated in-house service
means having qualified technicians. Morrow
confirms they realize the value of these
employees and make every attempt to recruit
and retain technicians.
"From a customer service perspective, we
invest in the technicians training to ensure
they know what they're doing," she says.
"All trucks are on a strict maintenance schedule [since] we have to work around the short

time during the day they're not out on the
road," Phipps adds, about Bettendorf Trucking.
He stresses the importance of valuing the driver's time, and confirms conducting maintenance
in-house makes the most sense for Bettendorf
since the staff is most familiar with the weak
points of the assets and can monitor those vehicle systems and schedules accordingly.
Fleet type plays an integral role
in managing maintenance
The nature of the business certainly plays a big
role in how fleets operate. Werner Enterprises'
Reed shared his fleet's experience switching to
mostly dedicated routes from a previous majority of long haul, which has driven increased
demand for vehicle uptime.
"Four short years ago, our fleet was 35 percent
dedicated and 65 percent long haul, [but] we've
done a complete flip flop," he says. "It's put a lot
more demand on outside maintenance and
getting relationships and agreements. We have
great relationships with vendors, it's just created
a much more demanding situation to get our
equipment up and going."
With that demand, Reed confirms more of
the services for the fleet have been outsourced.
Add to that the shorter lifecycle of Werner's
assets due to the newer equipment on-hand.
"Being 60-plus percent dedicated, we have
to outsource," Reed says. "Those trucks don't
come back to our terminals."
Assessing perceived value
and selecting preferred
brand are parts priorities
All panelists noted they have brand preferences when it comes to parts.
Additionally, perceived value - which panelists note involves an evaluation of both the
upfront cost and the performance and life of the
part - is another notable factor in selecting parts.
Plus, the part must be available when it's needed.
"Rather than strictly on price, I buy on value
and that means the beginning to the end of that
parts life," Bettendorf Trucking's Phipps says.
"It's monitoring the cost-per-mile to see how
that part fairs. At the end of the day, it comes
down to who can deliver a consistent good
quality part at a price they can make a living at
and we can afford [to] keep us from experiencing downtime. One thing about this industry
is this is a people-based industry. Initiative,
attitude, and ability goes a long way as far as
us looking at where we're getting parts from."

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Fleet Maintenance

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fleet Maintenance

Vehicles: What's Next in Federal Vehicle Emissions Standards?
In the Bay: Technician Tool Support
Shop Operations: State of the Industry
Taking the Extra Step to Prevent Wheel-offs
Planning Ahead for Vehicle Cybersecurity Threats
Management: How Do You Know When to Replace a Vehicle?
Economic Outlook: Won't Get Fooled Again
Letter from the Editor: Real-world Views on Parts, Service, and Operations
Tools & Equipment
Guest Editorial: Moisture in Trailer Brakes is Not Just a Nuisance
Hand & Specialty Tools Supplement
Specialty Hand Tools: The Problem Solvers
Time to Multitask
Get a Hold on Hand Tool Safety
Electric Vehicle Tool Set
Tool Review
Fleet Maintenance - 1
Fleet Maintenance - 2
Fleet Maintenance - 3
Fleet Maintenance - 4
Fleet Maintenance - 5
Fleet Maintenance - 6
Fleet Maintenance - 7
Fleet Maintenance - 8
Fleet Maintenance - 9
Fleet Maintenance - Vehicles: What's Next in Federal Vehicle Emissions Standards?
Fleet Maintenance - 11
Fleet Maintenance - 12
Fleet Maintenance - 13
Fleet Maintenance - 14
Fleet Maintenance - 15
Fleet Maintenance - 16
Fleet Maintenance - 17
Fleet Maintenance - 18
Fleet Maintenance - 19
Fleet Maintenance - 20
Fleet Maintenance - 21
Fleet Maintenance - 22
Fleet Maintenance - 23
Fleet Maintenance - 24
Fleet Maintenance - 25
Fleet Maintenance - In the Bay: Technician Tool Support
Fleet Maintenance - 27
Fleet Maintenance - 28
Fleet Maintenance - 29
Fleet Maintenance - Shop Operations: State of the Industry
Fleet Maintenance - 31
Fleet Maintenance - 32
Fleet Maintenance - 33
Fleet Maintenance - 34
Fleet Maintenance - 35
Fleet Maintenance - 36
Fleet Maintenance - 37
Fleet Maintenance - Taking the Extra Step to Prevent Wheel-offs
Fleet Maintenance - 39
Fleet Maintenance - Planning Ahead for Vehicle Cybersecurity Threats
Fleet Maintenance - 41
Fleet Maintenance - 42
Fleet Maintenance - 43
Fleet Maintenance - Management: How Do You Know When to Replace a Vehicle?
Fleet Maintenance - 45
Fleet Maintenance - Economic Outlook: Won't Get Fooled Again
Fleet Maintenance - 47
Fleet Maintenance - Letter from the Editor: Real-world Views on Parts, Service, and Operations
Fleet Maintenance - 49
Fleet Maintenance - 50
Fleet Maintenance - Tools & Equipment
Fleet Maintenance - 52
Fleet Maintenance - Classifieds
Fleet Maintenance - Guest Editorial: Moisture in Trailer Brakes is Not Just a Nuisance
Fleet Maintenance - 55
Fleet Maintenance - 56
Fleet Maintenance - Hand & Specialty Tools Supplement
Fleet Maintenance - A2
Fleet Maintenance - Specialty Hand Tools: The Problem Solvers
Fleet Maintenance - A4
Fleet Maintenance - Time to Multitask
Fleet Maintenance - A6
Fleet Maintenance - Get a Hold on Hand Tool Safety
Fleet Maintenance - A8
Fleet Maintenance - Electric Vehicle Tool Set
Fleet Maintenance - Tool Review
Fleet Maintenance - A11
Fleet Maintenance - A12
Fleet Maintenance - Products
Fleet Maintenance - A14
Fleet Maintenance - A15
Fleet Maintenance - A16