Hot TIP for trailer maintenance

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Transport International Pool, Devon, Pa., has introduced TIP Mobile Maintenance Services, an outsourcing program that provides comprehensive maintenance services for fleet-owned or leased trailers.

TIP can repair trailers at customer sites via fully equipped service trucks staffed by technicians, while major repairs are available at TIP locations nationwide. “Right now, 80 percent of our work is mobile,” says Robert Ceribelli, program manager, contract maintenance.

The company recently showed off a prototype “over-the-road” shop in Aberdeen, Md., which employs two full-time, in-house technicians, and eight additional technicians to go on the road.

Service trucks are ideal for light to medium-duty repairs, says Ceribelli, such as electrical work, preventive maintenance, and replacement of brakes, tires, panel sections and lights. The trucks are well equipped, with an air compressor, welder, light testers, jacks, air and hand tools, and spare parts and tires. TIP technicians also can provide inspection, maintenance documentation and trailer damage reports, using digital cameras and, starting next month, handheld devices.

Custom programs
According to Ceribelli, the service offers a high degree of flexibility. For example, maintenance can be done: on an as-needed basis and billed by the job; as part of a full-service, maintenance management program that’s billed per month or per mile; or anywhere in between. “Most work is somewhere in the middle,” says Ceribelli.

The pricing structure includes nationwide, hourly labor rates and standard costs for common maintenance items. “We also use our customers’ repair guidelines and billing practices,” Ceribelli adds. “We’ll even let them buy their own parts if they can get a better price than we can.”

Consistent data
By offering single-source trailer maintenance, TIP can improve the accuracy of maintenance data, while a ‘Six Sigma’ quality process reduces procedural variations from location to location, according to Chris Hines, president, TIP, North America.

“We realize that trailers aren’t space shuttles,” he adds. “The main items that require attention are tires, brakes, lights and wood. But we can let customers know exactly how much they’re spending where, and we can help them accurately track component warranties.”

The whole idea, concludes Ceribelli, is to “create a maintenance program that enhances customers’ trailer productivity, while minimizing costs and administrative requirements.”

Downtime minimized
Cordell Transportation, Detroit, has been using TIP Mobil Maintenance services for about a year for 300 trailers out of its Dayton, Ohio terminal. Terminal manager Brian Gunder notes that he has “definitely seen a reduction of trailer downtime,” although a reduction in maintenance costs has not yet been quantified.

“The automotive plants we service really tear up trailers,” he continues. “And we don’t have extra trailers to press into service when that happens. It’s imperative that we keep what we have on the road, and TIP has been very quick about helping us do that.”

For information, contact TIP at (800) 333-2030 or visit www.tiptrailers.com.