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Top Upfit Maintenance Challenges:
A huge challenge many fleet managers face in maintaining upfits is simply communicating the value and importance of proper upfit maintenance to field personnel and drivers.
“Most drivers understand the importance of oil changes, brake services, etc., and will typically make sure their vehicle is serviced in a timely manner. But prioritizing upfit maintenance in a similar fashion typically isn’t something that comes naturally. The fleet manager must educate their frontline personnel on the critical aspect of properly maintaining the vehicle’s equipment; not only to maximize its effective lifecycle and control costs but also to ensure the safety of their fleet personnel in the field,” said Jeff Klinghoffer, regional engineering manager for Holman Enterprises.
At the end of the day, it comes down to education and awareness.
“As a fleet manager, you’ll need to communicate the importance of proper upfit and equipment maintenance to your drivers. Beyond that, you can certainly implement processes and procedures to assess the condition of the vehicle and its upfit regularly. You can also explore potential gamification or incentive programs to help secure buy-in from your drivers,” Klinghoffer added.
Let’s face it; fleet managers have a lot on their plate.
“Fleet managers face daily challenges mixed in with bigger picture issues that include building a safe, reliable, and appropriate truck for the job while making executives and stakeholders happy. Finding the time to answer all of the challenges can be difficult,” said Mathew Marcussen, director of customer relations for BrandFX. “Taking the time to do research and learn more, in the beginning, will reap great savings, benefits, and efficiency in the end. Also, purchase a body that maintains its good condition over a long period will reduce the cost of repairs and service.”
When it comes to the different types of materials used in upfitting, you need to select the right material for the job.
“Ladder racks on top of cargo vans are impacted by either the snow and ice removal chemicals in the Midwest or the salty air near coastal regions. Using aluminum and stainless steel in those products is a must to provide the customer a quality product that gets them a good return on their investment,” said Katie Groves, national fleet sales manager for Adrian Steel.
Don’t forget to depend on those who know upfitting best.
“Partner with an upfitter that has a national presence and a team that can support these instances,” Groves recommended.
6 Mistakes Maintaining Upfits
While mistakes may not often happen when maintaining upfits, they can occur. Here are a few top ones to avoid:
Mistake 1: Lack of Inspection
Just as drivers need to inspect your vehicle for leaks, tire wear, etc., they should examine their upfits, too.
“Constantly check routing and clipping for rub points, just because a battery cable was tied up nicely last time you inspected it doesn’t mean a clip didn’t break loose since then,” said Brad Howard, director of Operations for Fontaine Modification.
Mistake 2: Ignoring Preventive Maintenance
When it comes to the vehicles themselves, preventive maintenance (PM) second nature, but that may not be true for upfits.
“Fleet managers realize that adhering to a recommended PM schedule is vital to optimizing the vehicle’s lifecycle and controlling the total cost of ownership. However, the same methodology also applies to a vehicle’s upfitting and equipment, but preventive maintenance for these items is often overlooked,” said Kelly Klemisch, regional engineering manager, Holman Enterprises.
To avoid this mistake, work upfits into your PM strategy for your vehicles.
“Regular service for equipment such as air compressors, material handling units, and aerial devices should be included in the unit’s PM schedule. Additionally, you can also include inspections in the schedule as well, so drivers receive reminders for those items as well. Or, at the very least, take measures to keep these PM items top-of-mind for drivers and operators. For example, you can track crane or compressors hours on an interior door decal,” Klemisch added.
Mistake 3: Not Adjusting Upfits Correctly
Make sure that ladder racks are correctly adjusted to your ladders.
“A properly adjusted ladder rack will keep the ladder secured on the van during transportation, reduce noise that could cause driver distraction, and extend the life of both the ladder and ladder rack,” said Katie Groves, national fleet sales manager for Adrian Steel.
Mistake 4: Misusing Upfit Equipment
You should also ensure your drivers and frontline workers fully understand how to use the vehicle’s equipment properly.
“Many vocational vehicles feature sophisticated and complex attachments, so training your employees on the best practices for using these units will help to minimize premature wear and tear and maximize the equipment’s effective lifecycle. This also applies to something as simple as a vehicle’s storage units. We often see fleet personnel overloading a service body or interior shelving with more than it is intended to hold, and this really impacts the longevity of these items,” said Klemisch of Holman Enterprises.
Mistake 5: Wrong Service Timing
When you service certain upfit items is also essential.
“When you service trucks, and related upfits is a big item. One example is a snowplow: make sure to service at the end of the snow season AND beginning of the season,” said Patrick Clark, director of fleet sales for Dejana Truck and Utility Equipment.
Mistake 6: Improper Equipment Storage
Where you store your equipment has a considerable impact on its useful service life.
“Also storing equipment inside helps preserve the life. Work with the local upfitters to make sure you are servicing cranes, liftgates, plows etc correctly,” said Clark of Dejana Truck and Utility Equipment.
What if you forget to change your oil on time? Can you damage your car's engine by not changing the oil late? Do you really need to change your oil every 3,000 miles? Obviously, you should change your oil regularly, but exactly how much damage you will cause by changing the oil late? This video looks to answer this question. We'll discuss what happens to oil viscosity as it ages, and what happens to oil additives in over time.
FORD DEALERS NOW HAVE ACCESS TO REMOTE-ASSISTANCE TECHNOLOGY TO HELP GET CUSTOMERS BACK ON THE ROAD QUICKER
- Two-way, hands-free electronic headset provides real-time visual and audio communication between dealership technicians and team members at the Ford Technical Assistance Center in Dearborn, allowing for more efficient diagnoses
- Technology uses remote assistance software powered by augmented reality, which allows team members at the Technical Assistance Center to display modified or enhanced images to the dealer technician through the headset
- SWIS is a global program and currently being used in Canada, South Africa, UK, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, and Australia
DEARBORN, Mich., June 27, 2022 – Ford dealerships across the country now have access to state-of-the-art remote viewing technology allowing them to receive real-time assistance for customer repairs from team members at the Ford Technical Assistance Center (TAC) in Dearborn.
“The remote technology is designed to assist the technicians as they’re working on vehicles – with the goal of increasing efficiency and decreasing down time for customers,” says David Green, Ford General Service Equipment Program Specialist. “This technology modernizes and simplifies our operations, benefiting everyone involved.”
The two-way, hands-free electronic headset, known as See What I See (SWIS), allows for both visual and audio communication between the dealership technicians and team members at the Technical Assistance Center.
The technology uses remote assistance software allows the technical assistance team to see what the dealership tech is seeing while they work on the vehicle in real time. SWIS’s augmented reality capability allows TAC team members to display modified or enhanced images on the headset for the dealer technicians to view.
According to Green, “We had one case where a technician reported the vehicle would not recognize the low tire pressure sensors. When the tech contacted the Hotline using SWIS, they quickly found out they were using the wrong tool when they tech held it up in front of the camera. Once the right tool was used, everything was programmed just the way it should.”
At the TAC headquarters, a team of about 150 technicians receives about 5,000 calls from dealership technicians across the U.S. each week looking for support or answers regarding a variety of issues. Of those, about 200 cannot be diagnosed by phone; field agents must be sent out to check out the issue in person.
“SWIS definitely helps get our customers back on the road more quickly. We’ve had some wiring situations that we were able to fix in a few hours versus a few days using See What I See and that’s really valuable,” says Susan Padro, Service Manager at Mullinax Ford in Apopka Florida.
Ford has activated 1200 of the headsets so far with more than 350 SWIS calls to TAC in the last 90 days. All US-based dealers should have SWIS in their toolbox by November of this year.
Currently, SWIS is for diagnostic assistance, but designers are working to enhance the headsets to add more specific use cases such as H-VAC concerns. Other uses cases include gaining prior approval before replacing a windshield by sending pictures of the defect instantly. Fleets are looking to leverage the headset to assist a technician on site with certain electric vehicle repairs instead sending an engineer allowing for faster repairs and savings on travel costs. Mobile service teams are also looking at using SWIS to remote in from someone’s driveway where they are performing a service like tire changes. Training remotely using the headset between an instructor and a student is another valuable use case to avoid having to attend a distant training center.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan, that is committed to helping build a better world, where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams. The company’s Ford+ plan for growth and value creation combines existing strengths, new capabilities and always-on relationships with customers to enrich experiences for and deepen the loyalty of those customers. Ford develops and delivers innovative, must-have Ford trucks, sport utility vehicles, commercial vans and cars and Lincoln luxury vehicles, as well as connected services. Additionally, Ford is establishing leadership positions in mobility solutions, including self-driving technology, and provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. Ford employs about 182,000 people worldwide. More information about the company, its products and Ford Credit is available at corporate.ford.com.
V8 engines operates under the same basic principles as any other gasoline four-stroke engine. First the piston pulls in air and fuel as it moves downward, then it compresses that air and fuel as the piston moves upward. A spark plug fires, igniting the air/fuel mixture and forcing the piston downward. Finally the piston pushes out the exhaust gases on its way back up, before for the cycle repeats itself.
In a V8 engine, this cycle is happening in 8 different cylinders, at different times. Instead of multiple cylinders firing at the same time, you want them to be spread out so that power delivery is smooth. For this Chevy V8, the firing or is 1, 8, 7, 2, 6, 5, 4, 3. With 8 cylinders, there is a cylinder firing for every 90 degrees of the crankshaft rotating, which means at any point in time, there are two cylinders on the power stroke.
With regards to the valvetrain, the intake air comes from the top of the engine, and into the sides of the cylinder head. The exhaust flows to the sides of the engine, exiting the exhaust valves from the cylinder head. In this LS3 model, there is a single intake valve and a single exhaust valve, though it’s also common to see engines with two intake valves and two exhaust valves. The larger valve is the intake valve, and the smaller valve is the exhaust valve.
The pushrod valvetrain gets its name from the metal pushrods which activate the rocker arms which open up the valves. The camshaft, located in the center of the V, has lobes on it which push the push rods up, opening the appropriate valves. For a full explanation of V8 engines, check out the video!