Advancements in logistical solutions have been at the front lines of globalization. In Sri Lanka too, road transportation plays a central role in the distribution of goods within the island. Vehicles travelling by road for this purpose include medium and heavy lorries which are commonly owned by the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) whose goods they transport. These trucks are operational assets, which means that unforeseen breakdowns cost not only in repairs but also in losses to business. .....unforeseen breakdowns cost in repairs and also becomes an opportunity cost for the business.
Therefore it becomes a priority for these businesses to ensure that their vehicles are always in good operational condition by implementing preventative maintenance practices. However, many of the smaller SMEs that own these trucks do not have the in-house resources to support the collection and tracking of data needed to assess and maintain their vehicles. This makes their drivers the only line of defense between the workshop and their vehicles.
Despite the immense responsibility placed on their shoulders, many heavy vehicle drivers are not educated in preventative maintenance practices, and possess outdated knowledge as they are used to driving older Indian lorries. Therefore, it is essential for companies looking to purchase new high quality Japanese lorries, to equip their drivers with the necessary knowledge to protect and increase the longevity of their assets. This can be done through educational programs on driving safety and simple maintenance practices. In order to better understand what such a program might entail, we spoke with SML PLC about their training programs for the driving staff of their customers.
Drivers need to understand the difference between driving a new Japanese lorry and an old Indian one (P2)
Good driving practices play an important role in reducing the wear and tear on large vehicles, while minimizing the risk of accidents. When driving a heavy truck, apart from adhering to common road laws, and appropriate road conduct, additional safety measures must be taken by the driver. One such measure is the five-point angle, which must be consistently observed to ensure a safe distance is kept from all surrounding vehicles. Also, drivers switching to new Japanese models need to understand the differences in the braking systems used, and the resulting impact on the braking distance they need to maintain. These pointers not only prolong the life of the vehicle and safeguard the company’s assets, but also improve the safety of the driver, his fellow motorists and pedestrians.
Drivers also need to learn to take advantage of the fuel saving abilities of new lorries (P3)
Daily and Weekly Maintenance Checks
The foundation of preventative maintenance lies in regular inspections which need to be carried out by the drivers of these vehicles while recording the following information:
Fuel tank and line assessment
Damage to tire rims and lug nuts
Wiper blades assessment
In addition to the above, drivers need to do a quick 360-walk around their trucks to check for any indications of damage to avoid potential hazards. This inspection can change based on the location of the truck and the terrain that it is being driven on. For example, in colder climates, animals can take shelter in the wheel housings and mud guards of the vehicle’s tires. Drivers must be observant of this and avoid starting the vehicle with these animals still in its wheel housings.
Good fleet management is key to the success of your operations (P4)
Fleet Management Moving Forward
It is also critical that a record of this daily data, noted down by the drivers regarding their company’s trucks, is kept in a manner where it can be referenced to schedule timely services and predict breakdowns. Although there are specialized software systems available to manage such data for companies, but this may not be a viable option for SMEs in Sri Lanka. However, it is still important for these SMEs to take the initiative to track this data, in order to set up a good maintenance system. This, coupled together with safe driving practices will ensure the health and longevity of these vehicles, which is crucial to the company’s reputation and growth.