The freight market has always been characterized by its simultaneous volatility and cyclicity. Spot rates have been dropping steadily for the past several months, making it clear that a new cycle is beginning and pricing power is shifting back toward shippers.
After over two years of strained capacity and sky high rates, carriers are now turning their attention to surviving – and perhaps in thriving – during a market downturn. Companies are looking for savings across the board, including improved route guides, fuel optimization and safety upgrades. One area, however, may not be getting the attention it deserves.
Predictive maintenance for trucks works a lot like medical check-ups for humans. The software allows carriers to identify maintenance issues before they become catastrophic, giving them the chance to perform preventative maintenance instead of dealing with a roadside crisis. This can help fleets keep their trucks moving while also reducing the risk of costly breakdowns, accidents and delayed shipments.
“There is a tendency in the industry to run until there is no more freight, then figure it out from there,” Uptake Business Consultant Norm Thomas said. “If carriers make an effort to keep a healthier fleet now, they will be able to optimize their trucks on the road in the event of a downturn. This allows them to save money and reposition equipment quickly.”
Despite the perks, Thomas realizes that overhauling maintenance plans and implementing new technologies can be a daunting task for carriers. Changing the ways things are done requires time, effort and upfront financial commitments that companies can be reluctant to buy into, especially on the brink of a market downturn.
“I, myself, spent 30 years in transportation before moving over to the technology side of the industry,” Thomas said. “So, I know how important it is to provide the expertise that can help with change management, not just the technology itself. That is something Uptake does very well.”
When carriers purchase Uptake’s predictive maintenance technology, the company’s highly specialized team comes alongside them to ensure the implementation process runs smoothly, helping them manage training and realize a significant return-on-investment as quickly as possible.
Once companies get past the initial overwhelm, the benefits of a proactive approach become difficult to deny. Because predictive maintenance helps prevent highway breakdowns, carriers will begin to recognize cost savings – and subsequent revenue increases – almost immediately.
‘There are hidden costs that go into reactionary maintenance. If a truck going down the road has a problem and you wait until it gets critical, it is going to get derated. From there, carriers have to weather tow costs, safety hazards, upset drivers and late loads,” Norm said. “If the truck was taken off the road and repaired when issues were first reported through predictive maintenance software, a significant part of those breakdown costs would be reduced.”
Uptake’s software is not only useful for cutting down on maintenance costs. By cutting down on highway hassles, predictive maintenance ultimately leads to greater driver satisfaction, helping carriers retain drivers longer. This is especially important during the current driver shortage, as skilled labor is a carrier’s most valuable asset.
In today’s market, it is less about whether a carrier can afford to implement predictive maintenance and more about whether they can afford not to.