The freight market has always been characterized by its simultaneous volatility and cyclicality. Spot rates have been falling steadily over the past few months, clearly showing that a new cycle is beginning and pricing power is returning to shippers.
After more than two years of stretched capacity and exorbitant fares, carriers are now looking to survival — and perhaps prosperity — during a market downturn. Businesses 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 much like medical exams for humans. The software allows carriers to identify maintenance issues before they become catastrophic, giving them the ability to perform preventative maintenance instead of dealing with a roadside crisis. This can help fleets keep their trucks moving while reducing the risk of costly breakdowns, accidents, and shipping delays.
“There’s a trend in the industry to run until the freight runs out and then figure it out from there,” said Norm Thomas, business consultant for Uptake. “If carriers make an effort to maintain a healthier fleet now, they can optimize their trucks on the road in the event of a downturn. This allows them to save money and reposition equipment quickly.
Despite the benefits, Thomas realizes that revising maintenance plans and implementing new technologies can be a daunting task for carriers. Changing ways of doing things takes time, effort and up-front financial commitments that companies may be reluctant to accept, especially on the brink of a market downturn.
“I myself spent 30 years in transportation before moving into 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. This is something Uptake does very well.
When carriers purchase predictive maintenance technology from Uptake, the company’s highly specialized team works with them to ensure a smooth implementation process, helping them manage training and realize a significant return on investment. as quickly as possible.
Once companies overcome the initial overhead, the benefits of a proactive approach become hard to deny. Since predictive maintenance helps prevent highway outages, carriers will start realizing cost savings – and subsequent revenue increases – almost immediately.
“There are hidden costs that go into reactionary maintenance. If a truck driving down the road has a problem and you wait for it to go critical, it will be downgraded. From there, carriers have to deal with towing costs, safety hazards, upset drivers and late loads,” Norm said. “If the truck was taken off the road and repaired when the issues were first flagged through predictive maintenance software, a significant portion of those breakdown costs would be reduced.”
Uptake’s software is not only useful for reducing maintenance costs. By reducing hassles on the highway, predictive maintenance ultimately leads to higher 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’s less about whether a carrier can afford to implement predictive maintenance than whether it can afford not to.
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