Maintaining a fleet can be quite an expense for many shippers utilizing a private transportation model. From purchasing assets to regular maintenance and repairs, expenses to remain operating can quickly add up. It’s important for companies to be proactive with their maintenance to reduce risk, and downtime while improving safety. In some cases, shippers may choose to leverage dedicated fleets and utilize the transportation expertise of a 3PL provider.
Tackling The Technician Shortage
One of the biggest challenges facing the transportation industry is the shortage of technicians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the industry will need to recruit over 67,000 new technicians by 2022 to meet demand. This number does not include the 75,000 additional diesel engine specialists that the BLS believes the industry will need within the next six years1. The advantage of using a dedicated fleet is that the challenge of finding technicians is handled by the logistics provider. Many 3PLs hire and retain their own technicians to ensure their customers always have optimal equipment and minimize down time.
Utilizing a Partner’s Assets
New tractors, trailers, and equipment require significant investment, and with those purchases come the additional expenses of keeping the assets operating. To rival the expense of purchasing new equipment, some may choose to extend the lifetime of the fleet, which can lead to more breakdown and repair expenses. Using older equipment can ultimately lead to downtime, decreased productivity, and potentially be more costly over time.
On the other hand, a 3PL consistently invests in new equipment and ensures that the fleet is at an optimal age. Bill Bliem, SVP Fleet Services at NFI, shared, “We are responsible for our assets so our customers never see the headaches or costs associated with maintenance and repairs. It’s our job to ensure our equipment can provide the most benefit to our customers.”
Since 3PLs purchase and are responsible for the equipment, they also manage the regular maintenance at determined intervals to ensure that the entire fleet is in optimal working condition with minimal downtime. A priority of the 3PL is to maintain their equipment and continuously update specifications such as brakes and tires on their trucks. This year, Transport Topics estimates that tire prices could increase as high as eight percent2. It’s the transportation providers’ job to negotiate and ensure that their fleets are running smoothly.
Taking Advantage of the Latest Technologies
As carriers update their fleets, shippers can reap the benefits of new technologies. With these technological advances, there are less maintenance issues and more safety benefits. With each new model, trucks are advancing to improve the way they operate. There is now technology such as collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control that improves the safety for the driver as well as others around the truck.
The technological advancements are also utilized by the fleet management team. For instance, truck and equipment manufacturers now send email notifications prior to failures occurring. Once that notification is received, the 3PL can then alert the driver and recommend a nearby repair shop. The alerts have become so sophisticated that the driver and the fleet services team are notified of any possible issues of the truck. Once notified, the technology can also direct the drivers to continue to drive or pull over.
From scheduled maintenance, to break downs and part replacements, maintaining equipment can be costly to a company. Choosing to partner with a 3PL and run a dedicated fleet can eliminate risks and expenses to transport products in optimal time and condition.