H R Ewell Inc positions itself for economic revival
Sep 1, 2009 12:00 PM
H R Ewell continued...
Sheeler attributes part of the weight reduction effort to the EPA's SmartWay program. Switching to Michelin X One widebase tires trimmed 700 to 800 pounds from each tractor. The widebase tires also are cutting trailer weight. Estimates suggest that the move to widebase tires may cut energy use by each tractor-trailer rig by up to 13%, according to one EPA report.
Additional energy and weight savings are coming from Eaton AutoShift transmissions, Thermo King TriPak auxiliary power units (APUs), and dual 75-gallon aluminum fuel tanks. “We've got the AutoShift in 98% of our tractor fleet now, and it is helping us achieve 5.6 to 6 miles per gallon fuel economy,” Sheeler says. “That includes pump-off time. We're also saving fuel with the APUs, which have reduced idling time.”
The tractors handle a trailer fleet that includes 75 temperature-controlled tanks dedicated to chocolate and oils, 170 sweetener tankers, and 20 pneumatic self-loading dry bulkers. Tanks range in capacity from 5,900 to 6,900 gallons.
H R Ewell's maintenance operation has the responsibility for keeping the tractors and trailers up and running. The carrier employs a skilled, experienced team of mechanics that have been with the company for at least 11 years on average. Several mechanics have worked for the company for more than 30 years.
In addition to the primary vehicle maintenance facility in East Earl, the tank truck carrier has shops at its terminals in Marsville, Pennsylvania, and Westboro, Massachusetts. Most of the fleet maintenance and service is handled at these three locations, but the carrier also uses some Commercial repair shops in other areas.
The East Earl terminal has the largest of the three maintenance shops. Three work shifts keep the shop's six bays busy 24/7. In addition to handling a full range of tractor repairs, mechanics also are qualified to make cargo tank weld repairs and modifications and service product transfer equipment, including pumps and hydraulic power systems.
Preventive maintenance (PM) is a big part of the shop operation. “We do PM inspections for all of our fleet vehicles on a regular schedule,” Sheeler says. “For instance, we do “C” inspections every 30 days. This is a visual “Check-Out Procedure,” similar to a safety lane. During the inspection, mechanics follow a 30-point checklist.”
Comprehensive maintenance histories on every vehicle in the fleet has always been a critical part of the PM effort. In recent years, the paper-based recordkeeping process had become complex and cumbersome. It was time for something new.
“Our maintenance tracking history was based on paper invoices held in a storage facility,” Sheeler says. “An employee might spend hours sorting through paper files to reconstruct work done on a single truck within the fleet. We knew there had to be a better way for this company to manage fleet maintenance tracking and operations.”
The better way came in the form of TMT Fleet Maintenance software from TMW Systems. Installing the software was part of a coordinated effort designed to reshape the way H R Ewell handles the overall management of fleet operations. The TMT system was modified to work with H R Ewell's own in-house-designed business management software.
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