Vehicle Preparations for the 90-Day Sprint During the Winter Season

By: Phillips Industries

As part of the link in the supply chain, the trucking industry is currently facing many challenges that weaken this connection, such as continued vehicle, component, and driver shortages, expected increased consumer consumption spurned by holiday shopping, and inclement regional weather this winter.

With the supply chain shortages predicted to worsen before they get better, this month, the White House has called on stakeholders across the supply chain, retailers and shippers alike, to increase operations in the next 90 days to ease supply chain bottlenecks and congestion. Within the transportation industry, some of the largest and well-known fleets have stepped up to meet the demands of the Biden administration’s ‘90-day sprint’. However, even before the unraveling domino effect the pandemic would have on the economy, the US was already experiencing a shortage in drivers to deliver goods to consumers. The pandemic merely exposed it and made it worse. The demand for drivers in some areas is now so high they are being recruited in droves, with many of them newly class A licensed and being offered incentives that seasoned drivers are used to seeing. Adding to this is the shortage of vehicles and the parts to build or maintain them. For those who have remained in operation, the pressure is on and building.

Without the readily available resources to acquire and maintain enough vehicles on the road, it’s imperative that trucks/fleets already in operation continue to survive and even thrive as unintended expectations for their performance increase. Part of this is ensuring that a vehicle is in good working order and can take a beating with more time on the road in less than desirable weather conditions.

As a manufacturer of heavy-duty air and electrical components for these vehicles, Phillips has not only focused on the importance of spec’ing products that support an operation’s ROI for a reduced total cost of ownership but has also stressed the importance of proper installation and routine preventive maintenance to preserve and sustain peak performance of these components. During a time when failure of these components truly isn’t an option, re-evaluating what a vehicle has been outfitted with and how it’s being maintained is key to avoiding downtime.

Spec’ing Quality

Although premium products come with a premium cost, spec’ing these products lead to an overall reduced total cost of ownership because they offer longevity and exceptional performance that far surpass the supposed cost-effective alternative. Compromising quality for inferiority because of an initially less expensive price tag could end up costing more in the long run. Ripple effects of downtime have a significant impact beyond a fleet’s organization when goods are in short supply, and store shelves are struggling to remain stocked.

If the budget allows for it, invest in it. If top-tier products are not in the budget, invest in the next best affordable solution. Don’t skimp – buy quality, buy once.

In regions where snow and rain are prevalent, spec’ing products designed specifically for operation in wet environments and extreme temperatures will help reduce failure and prevent corrosion. Regardless of the application or region in which the vehicle is operating, proper installation will avoid downtime. Sealed harness systems and non-metallic nose boxes and plug and socket connectors, especially those that are molded or made with molded components, block moisture and contaminant intrusion from entering the electrical system. This ensures all electrical functions of the trailer are receiving the power necessary to operate lights and auxiliary functions, including the ABS. The use of anodized gladhands and air lines designed for extreme weather conditions will protect the air brake system. If operating in environments below a coiled air line’s working temperature, air lines can lose their ability to stretch and recoil. If air lines lose their ability to stretch, force is applied to the gladhands and can separate or even completely pull away, causing a loss in air pressure to the brake system. Products such as Phillips POLAR AIR® will retain their recoil memory in freezing temperatures. Selecting proper cable support and stowage protects cables from damage and allows them to perform their jobs properly. Unsupported lines can become chaffed and cracked from rubbing or dragging on the deck plate.  Lighter springs should be used for coiled applications, whereas heavier duty springs should be used for straight applications. Proper hose holder placement ensures the entire working length of the cable is being used.

Investing in Maintenance

Fleets should be willing to invest in the resources necessary to maintain their vehicles on a routine basis, not just when they break down. This includes a reliable and knowledgeable workforce. Properly trained maintenance teams that can resolve issues quickly, efficiently, and effectively – from install to preventative maintenance and repair are integral in any operation getting vehicles back on the road. There will always be downtime associated with routine scheduled maintenance; it’s inevitable. When these vehicles are down for scheduled maintenance, Phillips suggests connections be cleaned and greased in 3 to 6-month intervals or sooner in areas where wet weather and corrosion are more prevalent. Cables, electrical connectors, gladhands, and gladhand seals should be inspected for damage and replaced when no longer viable. Using products that offer quick serviceability, such as Phillips’ QCP™ (Quick-Change Plug), allow for less time in the shop and more time on the road.

Enhanced Vehicle Performance with Smart Technology

In addition to traditional Phillips components that keep trucks moving, Phillips Connect offers customers the opportunity to further enhance vehicle performance by making their trailers “smart”. In today’s world, where instant gratification and knowledge are just a tap away on our smart devices, its suite of telematics and data solution sensor platforms offers any operation customizable tools for remote transparency and management of its assets while on the road. From the essentials, such as receiving location and maintenance notification alerts in real-time to advanced systems that allow remote pre-checks, this type of technology takes everything a step further in supporting a fleet’s bottom line and ensuring on-time deliveries. It takes the guesswork and unknowns of driver and asset/cargo location or imminent failures out of the equation once the vehicle leaves the yard or dock, increasing productivity.

By combining quality with technology and innovation, and the knowledge and efforts to ensure proper installation and maintenance, vehicle failures will be few and far between, supporting an operation’s goal in meeting today’s challenges head-on.

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