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9/8/2009 9:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

E&MU: Regular Check-Ups Prevent Costly Fixes

Preventative Maintenance Programs Help Fleets Improve Reliability, Avoid Breakdowns

By Mindy Long, Contributing Writer

This story appears in the September/October 2009 issue of Equipment & Maintenance Update, a supplement to the Sept. 7 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Ken Eggen at Tango Transport in Shreveport, La., knows that one size doesn’t fit all.

That is why he has separate preventative maintenance checklists for each of the three engine models his fleet runs. He goes a step further and sits down with his shop managers quarterly to pick through those checklists and make adjustments.

“Over a period of time, a truck changes,” said Eggen, Tango’s vice president of fleet maintenance. “You build a little bit of data and you learn that the Cummins engine needs different things checked at different times than a Caterpillar engine.”

Just like routine check ups at the doctor can prevent a visit to the emergency room, planned maintenance helps fleets avoid breakdowns and prolongs the life of a unit. During preventative maintenance, technicians aim to fix things before they’re broken. They check belts, filters and fluid levels, change oil and conduct predictable repairs, among other things, to keep small problems from becoming big ones, saving fleets thousands of dollars of future maintenance costs in the process.

“If you catch one belt when it is cracking and change it during the PM versus having it break while going down the road, you’ve already saved yourself several hundred dollars,” said Mike Hasinec, vice president of maintenance systems and support at Penske Truck Leasing in Reading, Pa. Penske’s 5,000 technicians provide PM for 13,000 customers on more than 200,000 pieces of equipment. Of those, 30% are third-party customers.

To make the most of scheduled maintenance, fleets are customizing their PM checklists and using chemical analysis to help identify components before they fail. They are also investing in technicians and their tools to ensure greater compliance. When implemented properly, PM improves vehicle performance and prevents more costly repairs.

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