Category: "efficiencies"

04/02/10

  12:20:12 pm, Categories: efficiencies

Last week my daughter came to me with an interesting statement. She said, "Dad, I had my car serviced like I was supposed to – they changed the oil and the fuel filter and the air filter. Now, I am getting much better gas mileage! Why would that change?" I explained to her that as we drive, filters get dirty and less efficient, oil gets dirty and less slick, and in general, the car doesn’t run as well. With new filters and oil the car is able to run smoothly, with less effort, which leads to better fuel efficiency.

This led me to think about the preventative maintenance schedules we set up for our automobiles, how important they are and how strictly we adhere to them – changing the oil every 3000 miles, air filters at 12000 miles, etc.

What about truck and trailer preventative maintenance schedules? Are we as strict in adhering to these schedules are we should be? Or, are we letting them slide a thousand miles or so, or a week or so, or a hundred hours or so? Are our drivers really doing their daily inspections, or just walking around the truck and trailer and calling it good?

Drivers should be inspecting the following every day:

  • Check the engine, transmission, differentials, power steering, and wheel seals for leaks.
  • Check the condition of all belts, hoses, and lines.
  • Check to ensure windshield wipers work properly and the washer fluid level is adequate.
  • Check the windshield and mirrors for visibility and cracks or chips.
  • Check air pressure and make sure the truck is building air up to the proper level.
  • Check pressure, and tread and wear condition of all tires.
  • Check wheels and rims for any damage or cracks.
  • Drain air tanks daily. Check for excessive moisture.
  • Pay close attention to any frayed wiring and check battery connections.
  • Make sure all lights are operational.
  • Make sure the horns are working.
  • Make sure a fully charged fire extinguisher and flares are in the truck.

Make truck and trailer wash a mandatory weekly requirement. Not only does a clean truck look good for customers, shippers, receivers, but a clean truck lets us see potential maintenance problems before they become expensive.

It is extremely important to work with equipment manufacturers and mechanics to set up the right maintenance schedules for each of the trucks and trailers. A newer truck with synthetic oil will need less maintenance than an older truck using conventional oil. Remember whatever the schedule; adhere to it like it was an unbreakable rule.

The savings in time and the cost of unscheduled, preventable, on-the-road maintenance will be far more than the cost of the preventative maintenance. Consider the last time a truck was late because it was in the shop for a minor repair such as a wheel seal replacement – an item that would probably only cost $200-$300 if performed at the proper time, by the proper shop, but ends up costing over $1000 in an emergency shop. Remember, this doesn't include the costs associated with late pickup or delivery fees (which may include loss of a valued customer).

If you would like to learn more about Preventative Maintenance Schedules and how they can help you with your trucking operation, please feel free to contact us at TruckMaster Logistics Systems. You can find us on the web at www.truckmaster.com or just pick up the phone and call 888-891-9550. We will be happy to help you.

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

Ps: Looking for the ultimate in Fuel Finder Routing? Check out www.findfuelstops.com.

03/13/10

  09:58:48 am, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: insurance

When you drive a truck, your insurance coverage is probably one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive, item on your books. It is definitely no place to cut corners. Being under-insured or not having insurance at all can be financially devastating. Before you pick up the phone or log onto the internet in search of coverage, know what kind of insurance coverage you require. Understanding the different kinds of insurance that truckers usually buy, consider, or are concerned about can help you customize your insurance package.

  1. Primary Liability Insurance
    Primary liability insurance is the type of insurance needed for a driver in the United States to stay legal while on the road. Drivers with these types of policies have coverage for others' injuries and damage to others' vehicles as a result of an accident. For truck drivers to drive legally, they must have $750,000 worth of coverage. This means that their insurance will cover up to $750,000 of damage or injury to the other party in an accident.

  2. General Liability Insurance
    Accidents don't just happen when truckers are on the highway. Truckers spend a great deal of time parked in truck stop lots, waiting in rest stops, or loading and unloading. While truckers are either in or away from their rigs, accidents can occur involving another vehicle and their parked vehicle. In addition, thefts and vandalism are also possible. Truckers who want insurance to cover damages in these conditions should consider general liability insurance, which covers the vehicle in conditions other than on-the-road driving. While coverage limits may start at $100,000, per incident coverage is generally recommended at $1,000,000.

  3. Physical Damage Insurance (Comprehensive and Collision)
    Physical Damage Insurance is coverage for your truck and trailer. This coverage is for repair or replacement for damage resulting from things such as collision, fire, theft, hail, windstorm, earthquake, flood, mischief, or vandalism to your owned vehicles. Pricing is based on the value of your equipment and usually pays a percentage of that value. This coverage may be required by the lien holder of your vehicle.

  4. Motor Truck Cargo Insurance
    This type of insurance does not cover your vehicle; instead it covers the cargo that you're carrying. This offers both the transportation company and the client the assurance that the items will get where they need to go, or their loss will be compensated.

  5. Non-Trucking Liability Insurance
    Also called bobtail or deadhead insurance, this type of insurance covers your vehicle when you're not working. Typically, the company that you're working for covers your vehicle when you're on the job, however its not covered if the truck is parked in your driveway, getting repaired, or otherwise not working. You might want to pick up this insurance to protect your investment in all circumstances.

  6. Legal Requirements

    Like any other job, truckers are not only asked to meet the requirements of their employers, but they are also required to meet legal requirements in order to stay on the road. Insurance is mandated by all 50 states. This requirement is not devised simply to charge truckers more money. Instead, it is a way of protecting drivers who are involved in an accident that is not their fault.

The minimum insurance coverage required for Vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or more:

  • $750,000 (BI & PD) for General Commodities (non-hazardous)
  • $1 Million (BI & PD) hazardous except class A & B explosives
  • $5 Million (BI & PD) Class A & B explosives, Hazardous materials transported in specified capacities in tanks or hoppers and/or any quantity of hazardous materials as specified in 49 CFR 173.403 of the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations.
  • For vehicles with a Gross Weight Rating (GVWR) of less than 10,000 pounds:
    $300,000 (BI & PD) for general commodities except any materials listed below.

    $5 Million (BI & PD) Any quantity of Class A or B explosives, for any quantity of Poison as (Poison A) or highway route controlled quantity of radioactive materials.

o be sure that there is an accident packet in all of your equipment.
Here are some things to do in the event of an accident:

  • Call the police immediately; leave your vehicle in place until the police arrive.
  • Complete your Accident reporting form and Medical Questionnaire.
  • Get information from any witnesses (name, phone numbers etc).
  • Where they involved in the accident?
  • Did they see the accident?
  • Was anyone injured in the accident?
  • What caused the accident to occur?
  • Take pictures. You should carry a camera of some kind in your tractor. Pictures really can be worth a thousand words.
  • Draw a map indicating what caused the accident to occur. Show traffic lights, stop signs, yield signs etc. and street names.
  • Do not discuss fault or any other details of the accident at the scene with anyone except the police, your claims department or your agent.
  • Contact your insurance company.
  • Call your agent.

It's an unhappy fact of transportation companies that accidents happen. But being prepared and knowing what type of insurance is needed, and knowing what to do in case of an accident will help you immensely.

Donna Bratton
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

12/31/09

  10:25:47 am, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: women in trucking

It’s funny, we live in a world in which women routinely sail and fly in harm's way while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, and take on the elements of nature and people in the police force or fire service. Women make up 48% of the nations work force yet there are just over 5% who are truck drivers.

Truck driving has typically been a male dominated industry because of physical requirements. For nearly 80 years, women have been present in the trucking industry whether it was inside the cab, under the hood, or in the terminal. Today more and more women are taking on important, leading roles in management, safety, dispatching, sales, and recruiting.

The workplace is changing for women across the country who decides to take on a new challenge and start driving over the road. At first, many women have reservations about driving the big 18 wheelers over the road, but after their initial fears are over; most find much enjoyment and great success. Many companies are surprised to see that the women truck driving students seem to out perform the majority of male students on written and physical truck driving tests! The fact is women make excellent truck drivers and it is arguable that they make better drivers than men.

All truck drivers encounter dangers and hardships associated with truck driving jobs, more so, however, for over the road trucking. Women truckers are more vulnerable to these dangers and need to adhere to far stricter rules of safety. Being street smart is one of the most important things you can learn as a woman in trucking. Knowing how to conduct yourself can protect you not only making terrible mistakes in judgment, but also from others who may view you as prey.

It is a great testimony to the strength and determination of our country's women to take on the demanding career of over the road trucking. It is not the easiest way of life, but it is a good life with many opportunities. Anyone wishing to seek a better livelihood should be encouraged to apply and give it a try. Many companies are missing hiring potentially excellent drivers by not reaching out to the women who have set their sight on a new horizon and started a career in truck driving.

Women view trucking as a well-paying occupation and one in which they take great pride. With that being said, I believe it is high time to rewrite some recruiting pitches to draw more women to where they are sorely needed – in your fleet's driver's seats.

Donna Bratton
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

12/23/09

  09:11:27 am, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: lost in the 1980s

In 1982 I purchased my first tractor and trailer and I started driving truck. That was followed by four more tractors and trailer over the next five years. By 1990, when an offer was made, I was ready to sell. Why? I was doing everything but driving all five trucks at the same time. I was driving one truck, contacting customers looking for freight for all of the trucks, dispatching drivers, handling irate customers, taking care of claims and eating a lot of antacids.
On the weekends, if I was home, I would get out my typewriter and create invoices for all of the freight we had moved since the last time I had been home.

I will admit that, sometimes, if I didn’t have the correct paperwork, or all of the paperwork for a given load, it would have to wait until the next time I was around to be invoiced. I dread to consider that some of those loads back then were never invoiced. I am sure if that had actually happened all of our customers would have been glad to send us a check to cover their loads even though we hadn’t sent them an invoice.

I did hear from customers that had complained they had paid invoices and were not happy that they were re-invoiced for the same charges; only to find that my bookkeeper (who was doing the money collection and recording payments) had forgotten to mark on the paper ledger we used that moneys had been received. I know of a number of loads that we "took" that were never picked up because information was lost. I know that at least one customer refused to do business with us because his freight was not picked up in a timely manner – again because information was lost either by the office or the driver or both.

I look back at those times and wonder how we accomplished half of what we did without any computer software. With the correct trucking software, such as TruckMaster 2000 from TruckMaster Logistics Systems, Inc., we would have been much more efficient, taken better care of our customers and drivers and been able to expand our fleet many times over. With TM2000, freight is never lost or misplaced. Every load is accounted for, from creation through dispatching, billing, and receipt of payment. Every step is logged and histories are created. When a load is changed, or an invoice is adjusted, TM2000 logs those changes with a date/time stamp and records who made the changes.

Paying drivers in the 1980s was more than a headache. Just trying to find all of the paperwork associated with a pay period was a time consuming job. With TM2000 payroll is simple and easy. Most TM2000 customers agree that payroll can be done in 30 minutes or less. With only a few keystrokes reports showing driver performance, customer performance and/or truck and trailer performance are easily created. Armed with this kind of valuable information a trucking company using TM2000 has a great advantage over the competition.

If you are a trucking company that is still lost in the 1980s, i.e. doing everything on paper and trying to get by, give us a call at 888-891-9550, or check us out on the web. We would be happy to show you how you too can move to the 21st Century.

Dale Clark
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

11/23/09

  12:06:27 pm, Categories: efficiencies , Tags: shop productivity

The main responsibility of your shop is to keep your trucks rolling down the road in a safe and efficient manner. Shop productivity is a measure of how well this is achieved. Shops are a chaotic place and getting information on productivity is a never ending process, but one that can pay many dividends in costs and employee morale.

Shop managers however, have different priorities and use different measurements to track productivity. One manager may compare the mechanics actual time working on equipment to their time cards. Another may be more concerned with the cost per mile figures for his equipment. And a third may look at how much work needs to be performed between regularly scheduled PM services performed by each mechanic. These issues, plus many others, affect your overall shop productivity.

Regardless of how you measure productivity, you need a method for collecting this data. Having the correct data available at the correct time is essential. However, collecting data, which will never be accessed, may actually lower your productivity. The mechanics are generally the ones that enter the initial data, so if they have too much paperwork, their productivity suffers. Your responsibility as a manager is to find efficient ways to collect the "needed" data without lowering overall productivity.

A good shop software package that is incorporated directly into your TMS software system, so that your dispatchers can be notified of scheduled PM services, can save you money and provide the necessary data to measure productivity. It must be quick and easy for your mechanics to enter data and give you the correct information to monitor your productivity. You should be able to see any work done for any equipment, by any mechanic, and show the costs associated with the work. Plus you need management reports to see the "birds-eye" view of your shop activity.

If you need software or your current truck shop software does not give you sufficient functionality, contact TruckMaster today for a free demo.

Craig Sorensen
TruckMaster Solution Provider
TruckMaster Your Trucking Company

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All trucking industry topics are subject to coverage in our trucking industry blog, but since our specialty is technology, that's what we'll focus on.

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