I have witnessed many things during my career in the transportation industry. There’s one thing I see more often than anything else, however, and that’s trailers in poor operating condition. Often, especially in larger fleets, trailers are misused and abused and are towed around in less than ideal and often unsafe conditions. Trailer brake controls in trucks are often referred to as “company brakes“ as an example and as a result, trailers are often not given the proper repair and maintenance required.
From an operator’s perspective, it’s important to make sure a walk around is completed no different than would be completed with our trucks. Lights, body condition, brakes, 5th wheel plate and king pin condition, tires, wheels, air leaks, hub oil, trailer decking, and trailer interiors are all things that should remain in a top-notch condition to avoid not only downtime but potentially unsafe conditions and fines. After all, when you hook up to a trailer its safe condition and operation become your responsibility.
From a fleet manager or owner point of view, it’s important to have dependable, well-maintained units on the road. This avoids costly downtime and ensures your customers stay happy. Furthermore, it also increases brand image and industry reputation, making it easier to find both employees and future customers.
As with most things in life, the best foot forward is being preventative. Being able to stop incidents and breakdowns before they happen is certainly an art and an often-overlooked aspect. When we are forced to focus on damage control, it takes our focus off all the other things that help us be successful and profitable. Not all incidents are preventable unfortunately and, in such cases, it becomes imperative to have qualified and knowledgeable people on your side to ensure your trailer is back up and running in a timely and efficient manner. Having a dependable shop or staff qualified in bodywork, electrical, brakes, suspension, refrigeration repair and service, welding and fabrication, amongst other skills will ensure all your repairs can be completed without having wasted time and money moving trailers around. Overall having knowledgeable and qualified people taking care of your equipment increases the probability of fast, efficient, and dependable repairs.
A big part in being preventative is having a well thought out maintenance plan to ensure that everything is being looked at in a timely manner and because units are operated in a variety of conditions what might be to be a priority for some may not be at the top of the list for others. A qualified repair facility should be able to also help and advise you on a maintenance plan that would best suit your situation.
Trailers have huge value in the transport industry but unfortunately, are often neglected and underrated in comparison to their truck counterparts. How do you think your fleet lines up with industry standards? What measures have you taken to ensure a safe fleet? I’d love to hear your take on the subject, please comment blow.