Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Transportation said it expects freight ton miles (the movement of one ton of freight for one mile) to increase by almost 50% by 2045.

A report from the Bureau of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration predicted freight ton miles would reach 7.6 trillion in the next 30 years. While all freight is not moved by trucks, trucks are the method used most often. And that’s not likely to change.

If there is more freight to be hauled, there will be more opportunity for you to grow your business. But there will also be more pressure on you to make sure your equipment is in good operating condition.

There’s no time like the present to evaluate the condition of your fleet and to review your inspections and maintenance practices.

Start by reviewing the forms used for pre- and post-trip inspections. Do they accurately reflect things that need to be inspected as well as additional areas of concern that are specific to your operation? Does the inspection form follow a logical pattern and is it easy for the driver to fill out? If not, modify the forms to help ensure they are thoroughly and thoughtfully completed.

Next, look at what is happening with Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports. Do your technicians take them seriously by following up on issues drivers are pointing out? If you want your drivers to tell you what’s wrong with a vehicle, you better make sure you act on the information they provide. Remind technicians to pay close attention to problems identified by drivers because drivers often can pinpoint a problem in the early stages.

If you aren’t looking at repairs between PMs, you are missing a big opportunity. Ideally your trucks should come into the shop for their regularly scheduled PM service and you should not see them again until their next regularly scheduled PM service. If trucks are back in the shop between PMs, investigate why. If you spot failure trends, take action to fix those problems fleet-wide in order to avoid on-road breakdowns.

I know 2045 is a long way off, and between now and then there may be periods of less freight to move, but even in those times, having good inspection and maintenance processes and practices in place will ensure your fleet will be ready and able to meet the demands of your customers and prospects.