If you are using a fleet of vehicles then it is especially important to make sure that you are proactive on many fronts for the safety of your drivers and for your bottom line. Not being ready for the surprises that Mother Nature may have in store for us could be a disaster in many ways.
Here are some of these must have items might be for your to do list.
Use seasonally enhanced fuel
If your fleet uses diesel, then it is very important that you are taking the cold into consideration. When the temperatures dip below freezing, your fuel is affected. It will get cloudy and often form crystals that will clog the fuel filter. This leads to difficulty starting the trucks, stalling and can even damage the engine.
You’ll need to use some conditioned fuel to make sure that you don’t have these problems. There is an additive that you can put in your fuel to prevent the cloudiness and thickness of the diesel and even increase your fuel economy that will save you some money.
The key to remember is that if the fuel is not mixed before a cold snap that the damage can still happen. If you have a very cold day and then mix the fuel after, it can still end up damaging the engine.
The best advice is buying road diesel in bulk and then mixing in the additive right away. This will benefit you in several ways. First, it makes sure that you have the fuel you need to get through the winter. After all, storms can disrupt supplies and leave you without fuel so it’s better to be stocked ahead of time. Buying in bulk also saves you money and lastly it will be ready to mix before the bad weather hits you.
Keep your drivers healthy
Unless you have a self driving fleet, then you definitely need your drivers to stay healthy during the winter. And with it being flu season that can be very difficult. Long days, cold weather and being around other sick people is a sure fire way to end up out of work for extended periods. Or, your drivers will work while they’re sick and that is not good for your business.
Encourage them to get the flu shot and even pay for it yourself. You could even arrange a day in which you have a nurse come to your barn and give everybody the vaccine there so it is convenient enough to make sure that they get it.
Also, give them help by informing them on how to stay healthy during the winter. Give them the tools they need to be healthy by providing pamphlets with everything they need to know.
Also, make sure to be giving them frequent breaks. If your busiest season is around the holidays, then hire some temporary drivers to get you through the season so you don’t need to stretch the drivers thin. Overworking them is going to end up making them sick since they need rest to keep their immune system working on all cylinders.
Even if your vehicles are not due for routine maintenance yet, this is a good time to check things out. The cold can hasten the process of deterioration on parts so what may have not been necessary during the warm months may be imminent now.
Batteries are notorious for running down during the cold weather so make sure they are tested and that the connections are good. Then, look for any wear and tear of belts and replace older brake pads.
Then, check all of your fluids. Brake fluid may end up too viscous if it gets very cold and won’t be as effective. This could pose a danger to your drivers and anybody else on the road. Switching to a full synthetic fluid is a good way to avoid the gelling that can happen with petroleum based fluids.
Coolant, power steering and even windshield wiper fluid should all be checked and topped off.
Make sure that every vehicle has an emergency kit that is fully stocked up. The road flares should all be in good working order and the triangles should be free from any cracks or damage so they can stand up when placed on the street. Jump cables are also a must as , once again, batteries are known to die in the cold.
Before the snow and ice really set in, make sure to go over how to drive in these conditions with your drivers. They may not have dealt with it in a while and could use a refresher.
You can use some videos or have a driving expert come in and talk to the crew to give them tips. Usually with a person, they give their full attention unlike with a video or dry reading material.
Just before the winter weather arrives, this lesson will allow the material to be fresh in the minds of the drivers. They won’t need to strain to remember what to do in the situation if they find themselves struggling in the snow.
No matter what kind of winter you end up having, mild or wild, you will definitely find some challenges coming your way. The more prepared the better so even if it is a bad winter, you won’t miss a beat and your business can go on as usual. As long as you are proactive and not reactive your fleet will be up to the task.