It doesn’t matter what region of the country you’re in or the range that your fleet operates across. Sooner or later, winter comes to every part of the continent. Whether your winter is as mild as cooler temperatures and winter rains or you live in an area with months of snowfall, icy roads, shorter days, and long nights—it’s always better to be proactive about winterizing your equipment.
The approach of winter can be a positive thing if you use it as motivation to take stock of your equipment’s readiness. If you have a lot of trucks and drivers to manage and you want to be sure that they’re set-up for success, you’ll need some help. First, you’ll need a plan that covers the who, what, where, when, and why of winterization. Then you’ll need tools that make “how” easy and effective.
Four Areas To Focus On When Getting Your Fleet Ready for Winter
The most important thing you, as a Fleet Manager, can do to get winterizing your fleet done—is to make it a team effort. When maintenance staff, office support, and drivers work together you benefit from the old adage that “many hands make light work”.
You’ll still need to direct everyone’s efforts, communicate expectations, monitor progress, and solve any problems and even those tasks can become overwhelming. Fleet maintenance management software can make the job of managing your team’s efforts to winterize the fleet more organized, efficient, and effective.
With the assistance of software tools, you can make sure that nothing falls through the cracks and that every asset in your fleet is ready to perform above expectations when winter arrives. Let’s look at some of the most important areas to consider when you’re setting up your winterization program.
Winterizing Your Fleet Improves Safety and Reliability
Your drivers don’t want to find out that their defrosters don’t work after they’ve driven into a snow squall. Your mechanics don’t want to be stuck charging batteries every morning when they have a line of maintenance and repair work to get to. Customers don’t want to hear excuses about gelled fuel or frozen airlines when their deliveries are late.
Set up winterization programs to make sure your assets are safe on the road and your team’s performance stays reliable all year long.
Electronic and Administrative
One area that your winterization program needs to take care of is the work that you need a computer to do. That can include work on the equipment itself but it should also factor in research and record-keeping.
When winter is approaching, it’s a good idea to pull reports from each unit’s computer and do a trip data reset. You should also update all module software and check with manufacturers for recalls.
This is also a great time to perform a full regen and make sure to check DPF pressure and temperature ranges.
You should also load test each unit’s batteries and perform an inspection of the charging system.
Depending on where your fleet operates and the kind of work it does, your winter might be a prolonged period of cold or it might involve extreme temperatures changes as equipment moves from region to region.
Modern engines can easily stand up to the challenges of extreme temperatures. But if you want to ensure long engine life and optimize performance, you’ll give your fleet’s engines all of the help you can.
Winterization is a good time to run an idle speed balance check and a cylinder balance test on each unit.
You should also check DPF ash counts.
When you know winter is coming, you know that your drivers need to be set-up for success when it comes to safe operations under challenging conditions.
Winterizing your fleet gives you the chance to check each unit for air leaks and to inspect the braking system. Check air tanks for water to ensure that brake lines don’t freeze up and make a plan to add brake line dryer when necessary.
It’s just as important to inspect windshield wipers, lights, and the units heating and defrosting equipment. Being able to see clearly when light and precipitation make things difficult can be the difference between a successful run and an accident.
Filter and Fluids
You shouldn’t wait until winter to check on the fluids and filters in your equipment. At the same time, getting each asset ready to run through the challenges of winter is one of the most important times to get proactive about making sure fluids and filters are helping rather than hurting a unit’s performance.
It’s important to check engine oil levels and take samples. You should also check differentials for fluid levels and purity from contaminates. If the unit has an automatic transmission, be sure to check the levels and purity of that fluid as well.
It can be just as important to change filters before they can cause problems. Replacing air filters, DEF filters, and fuel filters are cost-effective preventive maintenance compared to towing or roadside repair. Don’t neglect the cooling system or the air dryer when you’re checking the unit out.
It’s also a good idea to inspect the unit’s air dryer before the onset of winter to help keep air tanks and airlines dry so that they don’t freeze up.
FleetPal Connect Can Make Winterization Easy to Manage
FleetPal’s fleet maintenance management software is the perfect tool to make managing winterization easy, efficient, and effective. Using FleetPal’s inspection templates, Fleet Managers can set up a winterization process that meets their fleet’s needs and give the whole team access to the information they need to pitch in and do their part.
Contact FleetPal to get more information on everything our software can do to make your job easier. We’ll be happy to set up a demonstration and answer all of your questions.