Fleet Maintenance - 20

insurance costs to cover accidents while driving
the truck, turn-around time at the alignment
shop, and quality control issues," says Hunter
Engineering's Lemnah.
"If you're able to control your costs and control
your own destiny and your maintenance program,
you are able to continue down a better path,"
says Lesley Cooke, president of Tru-Line Laser
Alignment, a manufacturer of laser wheel alignment systems. "For a fleet to have alignment as
part of their service, [it] is a good financial move."
So, when does it make sense for a fleet to acquire
its own vehicle alignment equipment?
According to Lemnah, fleets should look at the
types of repairs that are being done [in-house], the
time it takes for technicians to complete them, and
the cost of the repairs.
"Alignments are quick turnaround, high volume,
and provide measurable savings," Lemnah adds.
When a fleet is looking to complete the service
themselves, John Ashal, president of Big Rig
Alignment, says, "If you're going to do it, do it
right." Big Rig Alignment offers planning, design,
installation, and training for the OEM heavy duty
wheel alignment industry.
"It requires focus and commitment," Ashal says
of completing alignment service in-house. "It's not
just buying a piece of equipment and then taking
the manual, giving it to one of your technicians
and say[ing] 'Here, this is what we want you to do.'"

"If you're able to
control your costs
and control your own
destiny and your
maintenance program,
you are able to continue
down a better path."
Lesley Cooke, president of
Tru-Line Laser Alignment

Equipment and tools needed

When a fleet decides to establish their own vehicle
alignment program, the first step is to research
equipment options.
Completing a vehicle alignment requires gauging equipment, inspection equipment, and a tire
balancer, as well as some basic and specialty tools
to complete the adjustments, Big Rig Alignment's
Ashal says.
"The centerpiece of [vehicle alignment] will be
gauging equipment, which a lot of people call an
alignment machine," Ashal says. "It doesn't actually align your vehicle; it just gauges your vehicle."
Aligning a car is different from aligning a
truck. Trucks have a lateral offset. This means
that during the alignment process a technician
must not only get all the wheels rolling in the
right direction, but also ensure the vehicle frame
is straight. Ashal recommends that heavy duty
gauging equipment be frame referenced.

20 Fleet Maintenance | March 2020

"Referencing the frame when adjusting the axles
usually involves an extra step like putting some
type of gauging unit on the frame, but it takes less
time to do that than it would be to measure lateral
offset manually," Ashal says.
He also advises looking for gauging equipment
that is repeatable. In other words, can a technician
measure the same truck twice and get the same
reading? A quality system includes not just the
sensors or lasers, but also the hardware.
"Every system will have a 'red' and 'green,'
[indicator light] but it doesn't do you any good if
that red and green aren't repeatable and that they
don't reflect the reality of how that truck really
is," Ashal says.
Also, when researching gauging equipment,
fleets should consider all the equipment's
features and whether that equipment will
meet all their needs. Some additional features
to consider, according to Hunter's Lemnah,
include: "Ease of use, time it takes to generate
measurements, live adjustment capability, trailer alignment capabilities, complete vehicle data,
and portability."
Alignment machines require regular calibration
to ensure the most accurate results. Calibration
involves referencing a zero point for all sensors to
confirm accurate alignment readings. It is important to check with the alignment equipment manufacturer for the recommended calibration service
and/or procedure.
In general, there are two types of calibration.
For some equipment, a separate calibration bar or
fixture - which is a precision machined part - is
used for calibration. Other equipment may use
a camera system, in which a camera is mounted
on a wheel and uses a stationary target or fixture
for calibration.
Whatever the calibration procedure, it's best
when done by a technician in-house, suggests Bee
Line's Williams. He says having a separate manufacturer's service call for the alignment equipment
could result in added cost and downtime.
"If your equipment is out of calibration, you're
going to be adjusting the truck to the wrong geom-

»»When researching alignment service
equipment, fleets should consider all
the features offered and whether the
equipment meets all their shop's needs.
Photo courtesy of Hunter Engineering Company

etry," Ashal adds. "If you calibrate it yourself, you
have control over how often it gets calibrated. If
you have to send it in or have someone come out
to do it, it's usually expensive."
Completing a thorough inspection of the vehicle prior to doing an alignment is also essential.
This is known as a pre-alignment check. A vehicle
must not contain any loose parts and must be in
sound condition.
For the inspection process, Ashal recommends
installing inspection plates in the shop flooring.
The inspection plates make the alignment process
more systematic and much faster. When the truck
is driven onto these plates, the plates hydraulically
move in and out, and back and forth. It will be
apparent if there is any play on any mechanical
piece of the vehicle, Ashal notes.
Additionally, a tire balancer is recommended
when completing a vehicle alignment. Since tires
are heavily affected by misaligned vehicles, it only
makes sense for fleets to incorporate tire maintenance within their vehicle alignment program.
When it comes to tools needed for vehicle
alignments, most are already available in a shop.
According to Ashal, these include items such as a
bearing adjustment tool, induction heater, tie-rod
separator, tie-rod socket, centering pins, brake
adjustment tools, shims and wedges, spindle nut
sockets, stud/nut cleaning tools, lug nut cover
tools, tie-rod air hammer, assorted combination
wrenches, assorted impact sockets, a grease gun,
pry bars, and hammers.

Other considerations

Next, fleets need to plan where the vehicle alignment equipment will be located. Will the shop
have a dedicated service bay for vehicle alignments? Will the location of service vary and


Fleet Maintenance

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fleet Maintenance

Uptime: Get Involved
The Role of Composites in Heavy Duty Trucking
Best Practices to Establish a Total Vehicle Alignment Program
Document Management in the Digital Age
Smoke Out Cabin Leaks
Four Keys to a Successful Extended Drain Interval Program
Management: Be Aware of Maintenance Scheduling Challenges in the Shop
Training: What Does Trucking Have to Do With STEM?
Fleet Parts & Components
Tools & Equipment
Guest Editorial: The Ripple Effect of Unplanned Downtime
Fleet Maintenance - 1
Fleet Maintenance - 2
Fleet Maintenance - 3
Fleet Maintenance - 4
Fleet Maintenance - 5
Fleet Maintenance - 6
Fleet Maintenance - 7
Fleet Maintenance - Uptime: Get Involved
Fleet Maintenance - 9
Fleet Maintenance - The Role of Composites in Heavy Duty Trucking
Fleet Maintenance - 11
Fleet Maintenance - 12
Fleet Maintenance - 13
Fleet Maintenance - 14
Fleet Maintenance - 15
Fleet Maintenance - Best Practices to Establish a Total Vehicle Alignment Program
Fleet Maintenance - 17
Fleet Maintenance - 18
Fleet Maintenance - A1
Fleet Maintenance - A2
Fleet Maintenance - A3
Fleet Maintenance - A4
Fleet Maintenance - 19
Fleet Maintenance - 20
Fleet Maintenance - 21
Fleet Maintenance - Document Management in the Digital Age
Fleet Maintenance - 23
Fleet Maintenance - 24
Fleet Maintenance - 25
Fleet Maintenance - 26
Fleet Maintenance - 27
Fleet Maintenance - Smoke Out Cabin Leaks
Fleet Maintenance - 29
Fleet Maintenance - Four Keys to a Successful Extended Drain Interval Program
Fleet Maintenance - 31
Fleet Maintenance - 32
Fleet Maintenance - 33
Fleet Maintenance - Management: Be Aware of Maintenance Scheduling Challenges in the Shop
Fleet Maintenance - Training: What Does Trucking Have to Do With STEM?
Fleet Maintenance - Fleet Parts & Components
Fleet Maintenance - 37
Fleet Maintenance - 38
Fleet Maintenance - 39
Fleet Maintenance - 40
Fleet Maintenance - 41
Fleet Maintenance - Tools & Equipment
Fleet Maintenance - 43
Fleet Maintenance - 44
Fleet Maintenance - 45
Fleet Maintenance - 46
Fleet Maintenance - 47
Fleet Maintenance - 48
Fleet Maintenance - Classifieds
Fleet Maintenance - Guest Editorial: The Ripple Effect of Unplanned Downtime
Fleet Maintenance - 51
Fleet Maintenance - 52
Fleet Maintenance - B1
Fleet Maintenance - B2