By Robert Blair, founder and CEO of Lite-Check Fleet Solutions
Historically, the trailer side has been second sister to the tractors. The tractors are a higher unit cost asset and much more complicated. But now the trailers are catching up with electronics and complexity, especially with the advent of the Intelligent Trailer.
The typical trailer maintenance shop has the necessary tools to change tires and repair mechanical damage and makes do with the home-made tools and methods for lights and brakes. Shop inefficiency, wasted components and roadside issues are the result of not having the appropriate diagnostic tools and methods.
A basic principle is that electronic tools with analytical software are needed to diagnose lights, brakes, ABS and electronics. These functions can be performed with consistent results without the technician’s value judgement and provides valuable repair information.
With the increasing emphasis on fleet management systems addressing the needs of logistics, finance and equipment control, the missing link is in the trailer shop. Any trailer data entered in the standard fleet program is the result of the technician’s judgement and manual entry.
Technology is now available to power, measure and collect trailer system data resulting in repair efficiency and predictive planning. With the power of creative software applications on a tablet, the trailer inspection reports can be repeatable and reliable.
There are three distinct needs for quality trailer maintenance management:
- The technician’s role is to have direction to perform his job. What is the problem and how can it be resolved? With the increasing trailer complexity and the technician shortage, maintaining safe trailers is increasingly important and costly. Providing the technician with easy-to-use tools eliminating much of the guesswork and having direction in less time is the present future.
- The trailer manager needs to know how the technician is performing, materials on hand, and scheduling the work. The trailer manager has to have accurate information direct from the floor or yard to be effective. This includes being able to manage the technician efficiency and process. With the trailer report along with history immediately available, his job is enhanced with powerful information.
- Fleet management requires information on the trailer fleet status while reducing costs. The company is performing the periodic DOT inspection, now have the data to improve the operation. With access to a secure cloud site covering the fleet operation, management can develop meaningful reports. Consistent information leads to reliable predictive analytics and accurate fleet status.
The overriding emphasis is reducing the cost of the trailer fleet operation and improving safety. This can be accomplished by including automated, direct and repeatable processes and tools in every shop.