Maintenance Technology

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The Metamorphosis of Maintenance
The nature of commercial vehicle maintenance has changed. We’ve all watched it happen, but perhaps from different perspectives.

Development of more durable materials, low-maintenance components, extended warranties and shorter trade cycles are reducing the amount of physical maintenance at the fleet level, but have increased the importance of information management.

Trucking is no longer an afterthought when it comes to technological advances. The proliferation of electronics, once the exclusive domain of the passenger-car industry, has brought us to the doorstep of the next century.

Over the years, maintenance has changed significantly in response to federal requirements. Regulations require that new, mandatory safety devices be maintained for the life of a vehicle. That means training mechanics on antilock and electronic braking systems, and even new trailer underride-guards.

Along with training there is a need for increasingly sophisticated diagnostic equipment and in the future, a truck mechanic may be carrying around a Pentium IV PC on his toolbelt. In a reversal of the current trend, future, diesel-engine environmental compliance may well dictate that powertrain complexity increase, and that PM intervals be shortened accordingly.

Today’s maintenance manager must understand information systems and statistical analysis, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t know the difference between horsepower and torque, and be able to make educated, equipment-specification decisions.

This supplement is dedicated to the maintenance manager’s evolution. These sponsors are committed to providing the latest information on everything from outsourcing to information management to electronic diesel diagnostics.

With all there is to know, today’s maintenance theater creates the toughest role the maintenance manager has ever had to play. But, with no room for boredom, it clearly has the potential to be the most fulfilling.

Make your maintenance manager and CFO smile
Conventional wisdom says mileage and fuel economy is a give and take situation when it comes to tires. The engineers at Continental Tires have never been accused of being conventional, and neither have the premium truck tires they design.

“At Continental, we don’t believe in making sacrifices in performance,” says Gary Nichols, national manager, fleet sales. “That’s why we’ve pushed the envelope with the new generation of Continental truck tires, to give you the best of both worlds.”

Prototypes representing the latest in steer and drive tire technology are currently being tested on Overdrive Magazine’s 40th Anniversary Truck and with major fleets across the nation. Each steer and drive tire has been specially designed to provide both outstanding fuel economy and longer mileage. This was made possible by reducing rolling resistance through a new computer-generated cavity profile. This innovative cavity design coupled with an advanced tread compound provides optimal fuel economy. A special shoulder protection system with additional siping provides resistance to irregular wear, resulting in longer mileage.

The prototypes become production models in the first quarter of 2002. These tires represent not only the latest additions to the Continental premium truck tire line, but also an evolution in the truck tire industry.

Expanding wireless solutions for fleets
Manta Media is a fairly new name in the trucking industry. So new that it just celebrated the three-month anniversary of its Field Management System, a real-time dispatch application that allows field service, transportation and delivery businesses to communicate with field personnel through mobile devices. All of this is accomplished without purchasing expensive software or hardware. The software is web based, residing on Manta Media’s servers and is accessed by FMS clients through a web browser, eliminating the need for administrative personnel.

Though still a rookie by industry standards, Manta Media refuses to sit back and enjoy the debut success of FMS. Les Walgreen, president of Manta Media Inc., is wasting no time evolving FMS into a higher-caliber product.

“By incorporating new features such as the Global Positioning System, Signature Capture and a Sub-Contractor feature, we’re convinced no other product is going to be able to keep up with us,” Walgreen says. “We have grown this product by simply listening to what our customers and potential customers need and providing it as quickly as possible.”

After launching in June, Manta Media immediately began interviewing targeted customers. “We spoke with fleet owners who said, ‘FMS would be perfect for us if you had GPS,’ or ‘Your product sounds great, if it only had signature capture.,'” Walgreen says. “We asked customers what was missing in our product and began evolving from there.”

Walgreen cites GPS as the most important recently added feature. FMS will work with Nextel phones or PDAs to allow dispatchers to see where their drivers are, live on a map.

The Signature Capture feature is also receiving a nod from clients. Signature Capture allows a driver to capture a person’s signature at delivery via a Palm Pilot or other PDA-type device, instantly, send the signature to the dispatcher, for archival purposes, confirming acceptance of the delivery, while saving time and money for the company. For more information regarding this affordable application visit

PerformX- the future of wireless fleet solutions
“In order to reduce operating costs and improve fleet efficiency, fleet owners must be able to monitor vehicle performance,” says Vikas Jain, PeopleNet Communications’ chief technology officer. “That’s why PeopleNet developed PerformX, a vehicle diagnostics product that monitors vehicles’ engines and reports the data back to fleet owners.”

PerformX is offered as an option to PeopleNet Wireless Fleet Solutions, which offers GPS satellite locating technology, in-cab e-mail and voice communication capabilities to connect everyone in a fleet’s supply chain. The PeopleNet system also addresses the problem of outdated or obsolete communications and tracking through unique over-the-air programming (OTAP)