Truck Review Features

Getting the right specs to maximize productivity

One thing that any fleet manager can agree on is that maximizing productivity is an important key to success in the transportation industry. When it comes to specifying a Class 8 vehicle, there are many things to keep in mind, such as driver comfort, fuel efficiency and especially maintaining or maximizing uptime. 

One of the most common interruptions to uptime is vehicle maintenance or repair. While at times it is inevitable, truck repair often eats up time that the driver could be on the road. There are several specifications that can make the maintenance process more time-efficient.

Kelly Gedert, Director of Product Marketing with Freightliner, suggests many options such as: Freightliner’s splayed frame rails which create more space in the engine compartment, allowing technicians to access it easier; a convenient eVault that stores the electronic control units right in the cab for quick access; and a fuse and relay box that does not require hand tools for accessibility. 

Further, Freightliner offers maintenance data before the driver gets to a repair or maintenance shop. Detroit Connect features a “virtual technician,” according to Gedert, which is a remote diagnostic service for Freightliner trucks equipped with Detroit engines. 

“Data is also critical to improving uptime,” Gedert stated, “and the Detroit Connect suite of connected vehicle services provides in-depth information about the health of their vehicles. The data from Detroit Connect can help technicians diagnose, troubleshoot, repair and document, as well as ensure that they have the right tools needed to complete the job so drivers can get back on the road faster.”

This feature allows drivers to make an informed decision regarding maintenance in order to only request service that the vehicle needs. This allows the vehicle to spend less time in the shop, reduces diagnostic time and ultimately improves vehicle uptime.

“With Virtual Technician, fleets and drivers know within minutes when their vehicles experience fault events, the severity of the fault, and when, where and how to best fix the issue at hand,” reported Gedert. 

When you are selecting the specifications for your heavy-duty truck, it is very important to know what all is out there. Jim Nachtman, Heavy Duty Marketing Director of Navistar, reported that there is a very wide variety of options available that can improve productivity. He suggests looking for the following: collision mitigation systems; blind spot detection; LED headlights; hood mirrors; and more. Navistar offers an Over-the Air (OTA) cellular programming system that allows A26 engines to receive the latest calibration and for the fleet to modify some programmable parameters while avoiding going to the shop at all. 

Ultimately, Nachtman suggests getting others opinions and assistance in the specification process. He stated that, “International application engineers are available to assist the dealer in spec’ing the best uptime possible.” 

When it comes to maximizing productivity, there are hundreds of options on the market. The most common piece of advice from many manufacturers, like Navistar, Freightliner, Mack and Volvo, is to do the research to see what all is offered. Keeping uptime as high as possible not only saves a fleet money, it increases productivity in order to increase profitability.