“Keeping your fleet equipment clean is a very important part of a company’s maintenance program – both for longevity of the equipment and brand image.” –Jim Hill, president of JIM Mfg., Inc., a manufacturer of mobile brush wash systems
Fall has officially arrived, which means winter is not far off. And with winter, as we all know, comes snow, and thus snow-removal chemicals, which end up upon trucks and trailers large and small.
[And that nice photo at right is courtesy of the Virginia Department of Transportation, which knows a thing or two about snow removal!]
For that reason, giving your equipment a regular cleaning becomes more than just keeping a sharp image out on the highways, where everyday motorists and freight customers alike watch your trucks and trailers roll up and down the roads. For removing those harsh, corrosive chemicals (liquid calcium chloride being the meanest of the bunch) is part and parcel of fleet efforts to lengthen the service life of their trucks and trailers.
“As they travel the North American roads, trucks, trailers, and other commercial vehicles are under continuous assault from acids, bird droppings, insect and animal remains, miscellaneous gunk, road salts and other contaminants,” noted Jim Hill, president of JIM Mfg. in a recent missive.
“In the road war against corrosion, grime and muck, the best strategy to combat the assault is keeping a clean fleet," he explained.
Now, sure, Hill is not some impartial observer here – his firm manufacturers mobile brush wash systems specifically designed simplify and speed up the fleet equipment cleaning process. However, his take on why regular cleanings should be added to the preventative maintenance checklist is spot on.
“Routine operating procedure [for] maintaining a fleet is by keeping tires properly inflated to achieve optimum fuel efficiency and sticking to a regular service schedule for lubrication, parts replacement, hydraulics and a list of other items,” Hill said. “But a fleet maintenance program that also includes a regular cleaning schedule contributes to extending the life of your investment.”
The road grime, salt and dirt build-up contribute to premature wear on dozens of vehicle parts, along with wear on the exterior finish, if not addressed, he stressed – something all fleet managers know pretty well.
“Thus washing all that away can reduce or minimize repair costs for fleet operators,” Hill added. “Also, a dirty surface has more drag than a clean one, so keeping a trailer clean will save money on fuel for the long haul.”
While the impact to the bottom line in reduced repair and fuel expenses is quantifiable, the return on investment is somewhat more intangible, but no less important, where the fleet operator’s image is concerned.
“The single most important factor in a first impression is appearance; we often hear this applied to people, but it’s equally true of places and products,” said Hill. “A clean fleet directly reflects positively on an operator, and there’s a reasonable assumption that if a company is committed to this level of maintenance, there’s an equal commitment to overall maintenance. By extension, this contributes to an overall positive impression of the company.”
Hill, of course, believes mobile washing helps fleets achieve the preventative maintenance and “positive image” benefits fleets desire by making regular equipment cleaning faster and at lower cost. His firm’s Vader I 5000 Series mobile cleaning unit, for example, is touted to be able to clean a 53-foot trailer in eight minutes or less for only $4, and can capture and recycle most of the water used in the cleaning process – thus leaving a smaller environmental footprint.
But the fleet’s goal should be the same, he stressed, whether they use a mobile cleaning system or not – simultaneously preserving equipment life while enhancing the fleet’s image. And both of those goals definitely put money in the bank at the end of the day for fleet operators.