The basic concept behind truck and trailer maintenance is to prevent vehicle breakdown and to minimise overall costs.
Many Australian fleets are adopting servicing models to comply with the Maintenance Management module of the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS). The main purpose businesses in Australia have of joining this scheme is usually increased mass limits (concessional mass limits) along with removing the need for a certificate of inspection for annual registration renewal. However, when correctly implemented, it will also reduce costs, minimise vehicle down time and improve safety.
While the NHVAS is usually seen as the standard that businesses should meet, smart operators will do more and implement Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM). CBM predicts the wear rate, life cycle of vehicles systems along with a risk factor to determine when and how to service components.
The basic principle of CBM is already being used to a limited degree in many fleets. Most operators will be able to tell you how long some components, such as tyres or brake shoes, will last in a specific vocation. So, they will plan ahead to replace or service that component once a trailer gets to that mileage. Just as component damage and breakdowns are a waste of money, so is over-servicing.
Expected component life varies significantly depending on a number of variables. Driver competence, mileage, manufacturer, equipment level and vocation all play a role in maintenance needs. For example, Hendrickson HXL7 trailer wheels ends will travel 1.2 million kilometres with only simple regular inspections, while some other wheel ends require rebuilding every 12 months.
If you have only a few vehicles or trailers, it may be possible to set up an excel workbook with your chosen factors. However, computer programs and web-based software can add automation, functionality and details that are not possible with more basic methods, as well as the ability to deal with larger fleet numbers. The primary objective should be to keep maintenance to the minimum required to ensure your equipment performs at peak efficiency to suit your business, vocation, and application. This will keep costs to a minimum and reduce downtime, both for maintenance and for breakdowns.Thorough inspection is required.
Avoiding Pencil Inspections
Pencil inspection is a term sometimes used to describe when a technician uses a pencil to tick off a maintenance checklist, without correctly conducting the required maintenance inspection. Pencil inspections are a common cause of component failure and breakdowns.
Everybody involved in maintenance of vehicles needs to understand the importance of spending suitable time and effort maintaining vehicles. It is not just the technicians that need to understand this. Enough time needs to be allocated by workshop management to conduct the needed work. If this is not considered, people will cut corners and eventually there will be a disastrous failure.