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Well, I am awful glad I found this place. Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Arthur. I have been in and out of the trucking industry in various positions since I was 17 and in the army as a 63S, heavy wheeled vehicle mechanic back in the mid and late 90s. For a short time in 99, I actually turned wrenches in the civilian world on road trucks. After a minor injury on the job, I decided I would pack up and sell off my tools, then learn to drive. I did some driving in the Army, which has come in handy if you've ever driven Houston local. I got out of driving and into dispatching, then just got fed up with the whole damn thing and quit to follow my dream industry. Well, about a year ago, I found myself out of my dream industry and in a dead-end job. I got my CDL back and started driving again, this time local. Had a couple of different jobs, then came to the company I am at now, and I originally hired on as a driver for end-dumps. The owner of the company, in light of my maintenance and management experience asked me to take over fleet maintenance manager. So, here I am, having to build a maintenance program from scratch. This company, which shall remain nameless for their own sake, has no PM program, so I am designing that as well. I have a bunch of surly drivers, and a hodgepodge of auction trucks that I am trying to get up to DOT specs, to include a nice handful of Mack tractors, CH and Vision series, and a bunch of International Paystar mixers. They aren't so nice, and I don't have a lot of experience with Macks, other than driving them. Any input is helpful, especially when it comes to the little tricks. Most of my Macks have various and sundry electrical problems, some pretty cosmic, others more pedestrian.

I really am still trying to figure out how or why I took this job, but I think it's either because I'm just plain crazy, or maybe I love a challenge. I hope it's the latter. Mostly I think it's because I'm stubborn. But I may look to folks from time to time for help. My maintenance staff is as cobbled together as the trucks are, but I think even they can be whipped into shape. We'll see. But any input, even to tell me I AM crazy, would be appreciated.

Take care, and thanks for being here in advance.

A

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Welcome , and for sure help will be there by many very experience and knowledgeble people , maybe your crazy but crazy are needed to make sure we go forward , lol

Makniac , collector and customizer of die-cast model in 1/50th scale

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welcome aboard.

get a big note book or several-one for each truck

Write year, vin#

Do a full service (oil, filters, grease) and the mileage

now you have a starting point

Chassis grease every three weeks

oil at 10,000 miles

Start getting common part numbers- wheel seal, both steer and drives; bearing sets that are needed for same; u-joints

if many trucks have the same common parts, get a full set. This will cut down on down time as the parts are there already

It's easier to write it down as you go, then get a computer program to enter it all.

If you can, take one unit a day, bring it in, and go thru the whole thing. It may cost the boss some $$$$$ but having fewer breakdowns and less headaches from DOT will justify it all.

Last but not least-Houston traffic sucks. even at 3 am-yes I did it twice

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Success is only a stones throw away.................................................................for a Palestinian

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Arthur,

You are in a good place as I'm confident the guys on here can figure out pretty nearly anything as long as you give them good information. From a maintenance perspective, I dabble in antique cars, tractors and trucks. I'm least experienced in trucks so I'll let the gang help you there. I am also the maintenance manager for a manufacturing facility with $350 million in annual sales and rising. We have wrestled our way to 85% operating efficiencies which is world class. With that said, you need to quickly figure out how to proceed. Take nothing for granted and question everything. I would first get with every mechanic and find out what he thinks he needs to be successful. Get them the tools they need to do the work. A well armed mechanic is a happy and productive guy. You also need to figure out who knows there stuff and who if anyone is dead wood. You will either need to train up the bad ones or get rid of them but treat them with respect and listen to and address as much of what they complain about as you can. Once you have a handle on the good and bad, you can make changes as needed to get enough staff to do the job. I'd find one good electrical guy and several nuts and bolts guys. I'd even offer to dig in with them to help you learn what they know and to gain their respect.

You will need to establish a minimum acceptable condition for each vehicle. Go through each one and fix what needs attention. Grease, oil and filters are very important as are the safety items like brakes and tires. Put them all on a routine and track each vehicle in terms of parts, labor and down time when it isn't available to work. This data will tell you when you need to either commit to a major overhaul or dump it in favor of a newer vehicle. If you are spending as much as they are worth and they still don't run, you are throwing away your maintenance dollars. Remember, you need to find problems before they cause a break down so inspect everything and adjust frequencies as needed to stay ahead of the problems. This is not necessarily intuitive to guys so stress to look everything over and find possible problems in advance. This is preventive maintenance as opposed to reactive break down maintenance.

Figure out what you need on the shelf for parts and either keep them handy or make your supplier stock them for you so you don't spend the money until you use the part. Consignment or vendor managed inventories save your time and can buy you better parts prices based on your commitment to the vendor. It's leverage you can use. If you really want to get organized get a maintenance software package (CMMS or computerized maintenance management systems). They are simple to run and you can get into one cheap. It will track all your spending and inventory and each piece for you. The reports they can generate are invaluable and can prove to the boss you know your stuff and when you say junk that truck you can tell him why. I can recommend a company that can set it up and show you how to do it. If you are not a computer guy, find a kid in the business and make him do it. Its not hard and is worth the investment. PM me if you want a guy to talk to and I am happy to give you pointers on anything.

So, build a good team, track what you do and learn from it as you go. Get a subscription to Plant Engineering, and visit the AFE (Association for Facility Engineers). These are good maintenance sites and machines are machines when you break them down to their components. The technology and philosophy is all pretty much the same.

Good luck and holler if you need help with management parts of it. There is more truck experience here with all the guys on BMT than you can shake a stick at!

Greg

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Thanks folks! Wow, I can see there are a lot of like-minded folk. To address what I've done so far, I have implemented a one-truck-a-day PM schedule until further notice. The one thing that's always tricky is the mixers, since they go by Hobbs hours and not miles. As far as my shop goes, I don't have a lot of dead weight. Fact is, I don't have a lot of weight at all. I'm too light! I have about 2 and a half mechanics, but I think I have them talked into another qualified guy. The other half a mechanic, if you want to call him that, I plan on putting him on PM only and shop cleanup until further notice. I think he has potential, but the other guys get frustrated trying to teach him. I will have to take him in hand, I believe, and teach him the right way. Occasionally I have to pick up a wrench, but it's been a long time. I have forgotten a lot of stuff. I find myself reading air-brake schematics, which used to be something I knew cold. Driver policies are being addressed, mostly since they have done what they want to for a long time, but I have told management that I don't want them in my shop or bothering my mechanics for tools.

I am going to be very unpopular for a while, but I have the backing of upper management on my shop policies.

DVIRs aren't being done properly. I read a year-old audit report from Tx DPS (truck enforcement div.) about things they have been cited on. Maintenance records, inspection and PM records were 3 separate things they got hit on. I am not too concerned with the driver records, since that isn't my thing, but for the sake of the fleet, I will be auditing drivers at random. This again has the blessing of management, and I will also be checkriding NEW drivers to make sure they won't hurt the trucks. That has been a rather lax operation as well. But they did get hit on that, and they got a fine probably a third of what they should have gotten, still well into 5 figures. If they don't turn themselves around, they will have their USDOT and TXDMV numbers pulled. Then they will really be up a creek.

We will be implementing safety meetings within the next couple of weeks. I thankfully have some friends who are safety men and fleet managers from other companies that I have worked for as a driver, and they have agreed to give some pointers. And I have someone in the office who keeps track of truck records and driver records. Looks like she is going to wind up being my right hand and safety person. Thing is, she doesn't have a CDL, so she really isn't qualified to audit drivers. I do, and I am. I have driven most stuff, just not a mixer, but I do know safe driving. And I know how to drive a truck safely.

I am having, on top of everything else, to even gather up a list of every shop chemical we use, including caustics to remove cement from trucks, and build an MSDS book to keep on hand. OSHA would have a field day with me right now, so I have to do what I can. 5 people have done this job before me. All have quit. I have a need to succeed in difficult situations, so that is one of the places I shine. I just need the support of my shop staff and management. But every time I have talked to my lead mechanic, a very soft spoken guy, about different policies, he grins and giggles a bit, saying "Oh, people have tried that before..." Apparently no one wants to stick with it. Bunch of wimps if you ask me, that is, my predecessors. They will have to fire me.

Something tells me there will be a lot of sweeping changes. Maybe not all of them will work, but I will make an effort to make them work.

My biggest problem right now is getting my hodgepodge of auction trucks up and running. A couple of them, my Freighliner Century trucks, are running. I have a Volvo that is running. My Macks are among the sick ones. I have a Vision that seems to be a mechanically sound truck, that constantly loses power to the dash and interior electronics while the truck is in motion. I took it on a 5 minute test drive up US 59 2 exits and the dash and cab electronics restarted no less than 7 times. Only happens when the truck is moving, but when the cab electronics restart, whatever the foot feed was set at is what it runs at while it does it, so it acts like there is no power. Not the case... The engine stays running.

I have another one with a front end shake, a CH. Happens around 55, then smooths out. Just had new tires in the front and a balance. I suspect the right kingpin, and checked it at the tire shop. Checked it again at MY shop and I can't get the same amount of play out of the wheel. I know I didn't imagine it when I was looking and feeling it at the other shop. Only thing I can imagine is that it needs to be up a little higher. Wiring harness at the injector pump is kinda played out too.. Cut out on a driver the other day...

Another CH, all the lights are flashing as if they are wired thru the flasher unit. Same truck, step on the brake and the right turn signal indicator pops on in the cab. My guys are flummoxed. So am I...

One CH sitting because I am missing a hood... That's all... Front end loader op backed into it with a Komatsu. That will do it!

Enough about my problems, but if anyone can add insight, I am open.

Peace, folks.

A

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Congratulations on taking on this daunting task and welcome to the site. I can say from experience that there will be a lot of resistance from the guys who like their freedom to do whatever but the drivers who want to be successful and professional will take the new policy's and implement them. As for the mechanics, I am sure once you get the shop straightened out things will be more organized and in turn will make their jobs easier as now they have a plan of attack.

Years ago I worked for a repair shop that was a free for all. I didn't stay long because of similar challenges you faced. I would up in a good shop that had rules, policy's, etc. they had their shit together. I stayed for several years before leaving for other reasons.

You have a big task at hand but if you reach out to your guys, as them what issues they have and involve them with your new policy's everyone (mostly) will get with the program. Looks like you are moving in the right direction and please post updates.

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Welcome aboard.

The one thing you have going for you is there is no way to go but up. My theory was that I always wanted to take over a losing situation; if it got better I was the reason, if it failed it was that way when I got here and no one is going to fix it.

The hardest thing to change is an organization's culture. Quite often the only fix is to fire the team instead of the manager. Not easy, but often necessary. The lead mechanic who pooh-poohs the changes needs to go. He will always undermine your authority; whether with kindness or meanness it will keep you from making changes.

All the new systems and policies in the world will not work if the people you have don't get with the program. Everything in every organization is dependent on people, not things. Establish viable performance goals, meet with the staff regularly to ensure they are sticking with them, and do not accept excuses for failure.

Poor conditions may keep good people from performing to their max, but perfect conditions will never coax good work from a poor employee.

I would look for a faulty ground on the rig that is flashing the lights. All the symptoms fit.

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Money, sex, and fire; everybody thinks everyone else is getting more than they are!

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Welcome aboard!! Good luck on the job and Check the groud circut for the brake lights and the directionals. Even the ground in the cable to the trailer could be at fault. Like water, electricity will find the easiest way to go. Paul

"OPERTUNITY IS MISSED BY MOST PEOPLE BECAUSE IT IS DRESSED IN OVERALLS AND LOOKS LIKE WORK"  Thomas Edison

 “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy shit, what a ride!’

P.T.CHESHIRE

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I am awful glad I found this place. Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Arthur. I have been in and out of the trucking industry in various positions since I was 17 and in the army as a 63S, heavy wheeled vehicle mechanic back in the mid and late 90s. For a short time in 99, I actually turned wrenches in the civilian world on road trucks. After a minor injury on the job, I decided I would pack up and sell off my tools, then learn to drive. I did some driving in the Army, which has come in handy if you've ever driven Houston local. I got out of driving and into dispatching, then just got fed up with the whole damn thing and quit to follow my dream industry. Well, about a year ago, I found myself out of my dream industry and in a dead-end job. I got my CDL back and started driving again, this time local. Had a couple of different jobs, then came to the company I am at now, and I originally hired on as a driver for end-dumps. The owner of the company, in light of my maintenance and management experience asked me to take over fleet maintenance manager. So, here I am, having to build a maintenance program from scratch. This company, which shall remain nameless for their own sake, has no PM program, so I am designing that as well. I have a bunch of surly drivers, and a hodgepodge of auction trucks that I am trying to get up to DOT specs, to include a nice handful of Mack tractors, CH and Vision series, and a bunch of International Paystar mixers. They aren't so nice, and I don't have a lot of experience with Macks, other than driving them. Any input is helpful, especially when it comes to the little tricks. Most of my Macks have various and sundry electrical problems, some pretty cosmic, others more pedestrian.

I really am still trying to figure out how or why I took this job, but I think it's either because I'm just plain crazy, or maybe I love a challenge. I hope it's the latter. Mostly I think it's because I'm stubborn. But I may look to folks from time to time for help. My maintenance staff is as cobbled together as the trucks are, but I think even they can be whipped into shape. We'll see. But any input, even to tell me I AM crazy, would be appreciated.

Take care, and thanks for being here in advance.

A

sometimes it takes crazy people to keep the world turning.

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Welcome aboard

Seems everyone has given some great advice.

Just adding my two cents - since you were a 63S you know about levels of a maintenance, come up with a list of repairs drivers can do with some simple tools; mirrors, lights etc..., start an oil sampling program easy way to save money, make up a sheet of PMCS checks you want the drivers to use to supplement and train the drivers on how to inspect the truck and what to look for, there is also a lot of free safety training stuff online.

When I first got my DOT number, I was confused about some DOT stuff and what they were looking for, spoke with them and met with them for a courtesy inspection and was able to develop a program that passed inspection every time.

Contact the dealerships you can sponsor the mechanics for training when factory schools are available or trainers show up. Have your mechanics get ASE Certified, most places pay a little more and reimburse for testing but it really gives you a base line on knowledge.

Robert

"I reject your reality and substitute my own."

 

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