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Outsourcing: It’s Not All or Nothing

Outsourcing: It’s Not All or NothingWhen it comes to outsourcing, some people think it’s an all or nothing decision: Either you outsource all of your repair and maintenance or you do it all in-house.

The reality is that in today’s market there are a variety of options when it comes to outsourcing. Fleets can pick and choose what it is they need and not pay for more than that. You can choose your outsourcing arrangement based on your core competencies, keeping things in-house where you have the skills, technicians and tooling to complete the job.

Let’s look at the various options available to a company.

  • Dedicated contract carriage: At one end of the spectrum, dedicated contract carriage is a choice some companies make as a way to get their goods to market. They want to outsource everything, not just trucks, but also drivers, routing, supply chain design and engineering. Dedicated contract carriage is a complete outsourcing of the transportation function, leaving the company to concentrate on its revenue-generating business.
  • Full-service leasing: With full-service leasing, the company keeps drivers on its payroll but outsources the assets (a.k.a. the trucks). This includes outsourcing all the maintenance and all the emergency roadside service for those vehicles.
  • Guaranteed Maintenance Agreement: In this scenario, the fleet procures the trucks but wants an outside service provider to handle the maintenance of those assets. Here maintenance is completed at a guaranteed rate.
  • Variable Maintenance Agreement: In a variable maintenance agreement, costs are pegged at a certain amount and if the actual maintenance exceeds the amount, the fleet gets billed for the difference. If the cost is less than the pegged amount, the fleet would get a refund or credit.
  • PM Service Agreement: This type of plan is well suited for older trucks or ones that are domiciled in one place. Included in the price is the cost of preventive maintenance services, which are scheduled events. Breakdowns or unscheduled repairs are handled on a cost-plus basis. In other words, the fleet pays as it goes.
  • Managed Maintenance Services: In this case, the fleet pays a small fee to be a member and then the service provider gives the fleet a preferred rate on labor and parts when repair or maintenance is needed at any of its facilities. The fleet only pays for what it uses and does so at a preferred rate.

These outsourcing options strike a balance between control and risk. For example, with dedicated contract carriage you give up all control but also have little to no risk. Moving down the list of options you gain more control but also take on more risk. Where you fall on the control and risk continuums will help you figure out which outsourcing option is right for your operation.


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Safe Driving Tips for the School Year and Holiday Season

Safe Driving Tips for the School Year and Holiday Season

It’s always important to drive safely, but with school back in session and the holidays just around the corner promising increased traffic, safe driving becomes even more critical.

Whether driving in the city, suburb or country, extra caution is needed when sharing the road with school buses.

Here are some tips for sharing the road safely:

  • When to stop — It’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus on an undivided highway. You must stop when the school bus has its red lights on and its stop arm is extended.
  • When to slow down — You must slow down when the school bus has its yellow lights on. It’s also a good idea to slow down whenever you see a school bus.
  • Watch for children — Be especially vigilant in school zones, crosswalks and at bus stops. Children don’t always use crosswalks and may dart out into the street without looking.
  • Limit distractions — Eating, fidgeting with the radio, talking on your cell phone all take your attention away from driving.
  • Safety zones — Leave a minimum 10-foot safety zone for children in front of, behind and on either side of a school bus.

Driving in traffic requires extra attention and concentration as you are dealing with busy and sometimes narrow streets, preoccupied pedestrians and impaired visibility. You must stay alert, watch your speed and make turns carefully.

Here are some tips that will help with driving during these busy times and beyond:

  • Keep your eyes moving — Don’t focus on one object, but rather look from one side of the road to the other. Try to scan a block or two ahead as well.
  • Check your mirrors — Know what is behind you and on the sides of your vehicle.
  • Watch taillights — Taillights allows you to track what is happening in front of you and give you some advanced warning when you need to stop.
  • Watch for pedestrians and bicyclists — Be aware that pedestrians may dart out into traffic at any moment. Also, watch out for bicyclists that may pull up next to you in your blind spot.
  • Watch for driveways, alleyways, parking lot access — Vehicles may come out of these places suddenly and won’t be visible until the last moment.
  • Stay on specified routes — Follow assigned routes and don’t veer off from familiar roads.

In addition to these safe-driving practices, make sure your vehicle is well maintained so it will stop when it needs to.

Safe driving practices are always important but they become critical when during the school year, during holidays and at other times of increased traffic.


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The Top Five Benefits of Premium Diesel

The Top Five Benefits of Premium Diesel

Whether your fleet operation is big or small, there are many important decisions to make for your business and operation.

Which fuel to use may not always be top of mind, but switching to a premium diesel can increase overall efficiency and equipment longevity.

Below are the top five benefits to using a premium diesel.

1. A higher cetane number.

Cetane measures a fuel’s ignition delay — or how quickly the air and fuel mixture combusts in your engine. Higher cetane means a shorter delay and better ignition quality, which in turn leads to faster start-ups, reduced wear on your batteries and starter along with less pollution.

2. Better lubricity.

Lubrication in an engine helps reduce overall friction. Diesel lubricants, specifically, reduce the friction and wear of the fuel pump and injection components. These engine parts are under intense pressure, so more lubrication leads to less downtime and fewer costly repairs.

3. More effective detergents.

Detergents do exactly what they sound like: keep your fuel and engine components clean. Detergents in your diesel reduce buildup on the fuel injectors. Clean parts mean less overall downtime and fewer repairs, so you can keep your fleet on the road or your equipment in the field.

4. A well-rounded additives package.

Premium diesel comes packed with additives that produce a variety of benefits. These additives include demulsifiers to keep water out of the fuel, corrosion inhibitors that extend the life of injection pumps, and stabilizers that prevent the formation of gum or sludge during storage. All these together extend the life of both the fuel and the engine.

5. Cleaner and more efficient engine components.

Your engine is cleaner and runs more efficiently when all of these are working together. Premium diesel delivers more power and better fuel economy than a regular No. 2 diesel blend. In fact, tests have shown a 4.5% increase in power compared to a typical diesel fuel.


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Safety Matters: Overview of Warehousing Hazards

Working in a warehouse is dangerous because of the wide variety of hazards present. The possibility of injury is all around. In any given day, employees may work with heavy boxes, powered industrial trucks, docks, conveyor belts and/or hazardous materials. According to the some studies, about 46 per cent of injuries that occur in the warehouse are strains and sprains. The most commonly injured body part is the back, followed by the lower half of the body, which includes legs, knees, feet and toes. Most importantly, employees overwhelmingly report overexertion as the top exposure causing on-the-job injury.

What do all these numbers and statistics mean to employees? They show that injuries occurring in warehouses across the country are common, but they are also preventable. Use the following information to prevent workplace hazards so employees can stay safe and healthy on the job.

Help with Housekeeping

One of the most important things employees can do to support workplace safety is to keep the warehouse tidy and organized, and encourage co-workers and management to do the same. Housekeeping is a team effort. Everyone must address problems right away. Slips and trips because of cluttered, wet or icy floors are common and can cause serious injury.

Loading Dock Safety

Though loading dock injuries are not as common as some others are, statistics show they have the highest rate of fatality or devastating injury. Ramps and inclines, overhead obstructions, dissimilar surfaces, slippery conditions, poor lighting, vehicular traffic, pedestrian traffic, restricted views, sheer drops, trailer creep, congested areas and debris accumulation are all common hazards at the loading dock.

It is essential that everyone follow proper precautions in order to keep the loading dock area as safe as possible. Employees should keep the area clean of debris by designating specific areas to put used pallets, containers and trash. They should never stack used pallets or containers too high, especially if there are pedestrians working in the area. Employees should always follow paint or tape markings indicating staging areas, aisles, overhead obstacles, obstructions and loading lanes whether they are walking, operating an industrial vehicle or driving a truck. Most importantly, they should never climb on docks, place any part of their body outside the dock door, jump down from docks or place themselves between the dock and a trailer. These are the most common causes of loading dock accidents.

Conveyor Belt Dos and Don’ts

In some ways, conveyor belts in the warehouse are safer than manual material handling. They eliminate some of the stress on workers’ backs, knees and ankles, and greatly enhance productivity. However, carelessness around conveyor belts also causes hundreds of injuries a year. When working with conveyor belts, workers are at risk for pinch-point and crush injuries as well as being trapped between a moving pallet load and a fixed structure. They should also watch out for sharp edges that cause cuts or bruises and hot parts that could scald or burn. Workers need to take these precautions to ensure their safety and health.

First, employees should never perform service on a conveyor unless they are authorized and only once they have followed the proper lockout/tag-out procedures. Failure to lockout/tag-out equipment is one of the biggest and most preventable mistakes employers and workers make. Employees should tie back long hair, not wear loose clothing or hanging jewellery, and remember to keep clothing, fingers and other body parts away from the conveyor – just because it has guards and safety devices does not mean employees cannot be injured.

Hazardous Substances

In a warehouse setting, employees face injury or illness potential from vehicle exhaust fumes, cleaning fluids or the stored product itself. To protect themselves, employees should never leave vehicles running in a closed setting, always wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when cleaning or handling hazardous materials and know the proper procedures in case of a spill. In addition, they should be sure they know the location of first aid facilities, including the emergency eyewash and shower stations.

Risk of Fire

Employees may work in a setting where there is bulk storage of materials that ignite or burn easily. Pallets could ignite for a variety of reasons, including electrical fault, smoking on-site or improperly charging equipment batteries. To help lower risk of fire, never smoke in the warehouse, follow all battery-charging precautions and keep open areas free of debris. Employees should also take precautions in case of fire, including keeping all fire exits clear, making sure they are properly marked and knowing the location of extinguishers.

Industrial Truck Dangers

Industrial trucks present a serious hazard in warehouses, both in terms of driving them and charging their batteries. These vehicles, especially forklifts, are unstable by nature because they carry extremely heavy loads on only one end and have a continually shifting centre of gravity. When a load is on the truck, employees should carry it as low as possible with the mast tilted back to shift the weight toward the centre of the truck. Employees should lower their speed and drive cautiously on ramps, turns and uneven surfaces so the load does not shift unexpectedly.

Warehouse truck equipment can be powered in three ways: gas, propane or battery. For all types of refuelling or charging, employees need to wear the proper PPE, not smoke in the vicinity, turn off the vehicle and remove the key. For propane and gas refuelling, they should watch for leaks by detecting a distinct odour, a hissing sound or frost on fittings. If employees suspect a leak, they should address it immediately. For battery charging, they should always inspect connectors for damage and clean up battery acid spills immediately. Equipment charging is a serious task, and they should not perform this duty unless they are thoroughly trained to do so.

Ergonomics 101

Your workers’ jobs involve lots of heavy lifting, bending and twisting, and these are motions that can lead to serious injury. The best idea is to avoid these motions when possible, but they are often necessary due to the nature of the job. Besides practising proper lifting technique, it is important for employees to use conveyors and machinery whenever safe and feasible to reduce the stress on their bodies. Otherwise, the ideal is a one-touch system. Employees should avoid moving and shifting products around more times than necessary. When possible, they should lift the product once and set it in its proper place so other people do not have to lift it again later. 

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Preventing Log Truck Rollovers

Log trucks and similar vehicles are commonplace in forestry operations. They are essential to keeping operations moving. However, improper use of these vehicles can result in deadly rollover accidents.

Vehicle rollovers can be caused by a number of activities, but are most often a result of the following:

  • Taking sharp, high-speed turns
  • Driving too close to slopes, embankments and ditches
  • Loading vehicles improperly
  • Driving in poor conditions or aggressively

Thankfully, log truck rollovers are fairly easy to prevent in most situations. Drivers should do the following in order to limit the chances of potentially deadly accidents:

  1. Manage your speed and slow down when turning.
  2. Use the appropriate load securement devices to ensure a load doesn’t move. Only hitch at weights approved by the vehicle’s manufacturer.
  3. Keep the heaviest logs at the bottom of a load. Avoid creating any free space.
  4. Practise attentive driving and avoid driving on the shoulder of a road.
  5. Avoid oversteering or understeering the vehicle as overcorrections are a main cause of rollovers.
  6. Use counterweights to offset any imbalances.
  7. Use vehicles equipped with anti-lock braking systems, electronic stability programs or equivalent support systems.
  8. Practise good route planning to avoid external hazards such as poor weather or road conditions.
  9. Report safety issues to a supervisor immediately and keep in contact with transport management whenever you make a delivery.

Keeping the above tips in mind can go a long way in preventing rollovers and injuries. 

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How to Include Flexible Work Options in Your Workplace

In an industry that runs 24/7, it may be hard to imagine flexible work options that make sense. These arrangements can include a variety of options, from compressed workweeks to part-time hours, load sharing, job sharing, and more.

However, all of these scenarios exist in trucking and logistics and, in terms of recruiting and retention, the positive impact shouldn’t be ignored. According to Trucking HR Canada’s survey on youth in the industry:

  • 59% of surveyed employees 18-35 years old say flexible work is a priority
  • 62% of surveyed drivers 35 or older say the lack of flexibility is a challenge to them staying in the industry
  • 75% of all surveyed drivers plan on leaving the industry within the next 5 years and cited lack of flexibility as one of the key factors

Top Fleet Employers

As one of the reviewers for our Top Fleet Employers program, which honors the best workplaces in Canada’s trucking industry, I evaluate and analyze the HR practices and programs at carriers of all sizes.

It might surprise you, but 92% of our Top Fleet Employers offer flexible work arrangements to drivers and 85% offer them to other employees. Among small fleets, 94% offer flexible schedules.

Among the benefits: fleets with flexible options report annual turnover rates of less than 22% on average. They also report more employees in the 18-35 age range than the industry average.

How to include flexible work options in your workplace

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to flexible work arrangements but here are some tips to consider:

1.      Assess your current practices

Many fleets accommodate employees’ needs without having formal policies in writing. So, if you’re starting from scratch, write down the formal and informal ways you currently flex schedules to accommodate employees. Do you reschedule routes so drivers can be home when they need to be? Do you have a formal leave policy?

2.      Engage your employees

If you want to know what type of flexible work arrangements would help your employees the most, talk to them. Surveys, town halls, group meetings… You won’t know unless you ask. This doesn’t mean that everyone’s idea of flexible work will be included in your plans, but it will give have a better idea of what your employees are looking for.

3.      Communication is Key

Any program that involves flexible work options needs to be transparent and fair. The best way to achieve this, as Trucking HR Canada always advocates, is through clearly written, consistently applied, and well-communicated policies.

Formalize your policies. What are your expected hours of work? Who and when can someone request an arrangement? How should and could policies and expectations differ depending on the type of work involved? How do you communicate your expectations? And, again, as Trucking HR Canada advocates on a regular basis, you need someone in charge and accountable for measuring success.

Offering flexible work options is already helping companies stay competitive. Assessing and reviewing your own practices can help you do the same.

Written by: Isabelle Hétu

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FTR Conference: ‘Disruptions Ahead’

Uncertainty over international trade – combined with impeding electronic logging device mandates as well as automation and on-demand servicing in the transportation industry – are the key potential disruptions which will shake up the North American Trucking industry.

During FTR’s most recent webinar on the key issues in transportation, Eric Starks, CEO & chairman of FTR Intelligence, and Larry Gross, transportation expert at FTR, noted the most significant trade disruption ahead that could impact freight flows for trucking and intermodal is NAFTA.

As reported by Fleet Owner:

“This is one of the areas that the Trump administration can make moves without a lot of congressional input or insight,” Gross explained. “We’ve seen some saber rattling in terms of NAFTA.”

He added that Trump’s threats to withdraw from or renegotiate NAFTA have already impacted cross-border moves between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico. “In general, we see a lot more downside in terms of disruption of cross-border trade rather than upside,” according to Gross.

“Right now NAFTA is our major concern,” Starks said. “Where Mexico and Canada are much more uneasy about things, the likelihood that things could change over the next several years is higher. What does that freight movement look like? It’s really hard to tell what that full impact is. That’s what we’re looking at closely now.”

A more long-term disruption is autonomous trucks, which depends mainly on the level of public acceptance over the next decade and fleets’ willingness to invest based on returned investment

Gross suggested that fully autonomous trucks are a long way off. In the meantime, the “gateway technology” is the platooning approach.

“This is a technology that can be adopted on a widespread basis purely on the fact of the fuel savings it generates. That’s enough to finance the technology.”

Starks said technology will begin pushing out intermediaries between financial transactions and services, perhaps radically changing how the industry behaves.

Much has been made of the “Uberization’ of freight, but Gross said he thinks it’s an overstatement to say that Uber is going to blow up trucking’s business model “because booking a load isn’t the same as booking a taxi.”

However, Starks did point out the final mile is probably one of the biggest problem the transportation industry has to deal with in next few decades.

“When looking at terms of productivity this is where fleets can have the biggest bang for their buck. We’re seeing different things happening with drones, and in some areas it makes sense to use some drones.”

“What is the most efficient way to get this good to our end customer,” he added. That technology is still in an evolutionary phase. That will evolve over time.”

Meanwhile, the rollout of ELDs has the ability to radically impact capacity, Starks explained. “The timing really matters there.”

Both Starks and Gross noted that we are still in a “wait-and-see” state as we look at the overall regulatory environment and what the priorities are in the new administration. With ELDs and the potential loss in productivity, Starks said there will be a push to get that productivity back, and fleets will likely start better optimizing technology and big data.

“Big data is only good if already know how to use the information you have,” Starks stressed. “If you don’t know how to use that information, big data won’t help you.”

Read full Fleet Owner article here.

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Keep In The Swing Of Things – Reducing Pain Caused By Driving

Tightly gripping your steering wheel over years and many miles can take a toll on your elbows and cause golfer’s elbow, even if you’ve never swung a golf club.

Golfer’s elbow is a painful condition that affects the elbow where your forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of your elbow, causing pain that sometimes radiates into your wrist and forearm.

Although this condition is common for golfers, rock climbers, and baseball pitchers, it also affects truck drivers, plumbers, construction workers, and others who excessively or repeatedly use their wrists, clench their fists and/or engage in frequent, grip-intensive activities.

For truckers, it’s the tight grip exerted by your fingers, along with wrist torsion while steering over long distances, that stresses the tendon that attaches the forearm muscle to your elbow, causing pain, tenderness, stiffness, weakness, numbness and/or tingling in your fingers.

Golfer’s elbow can be caused by any activity in which you repeatedly bend and straighten your elbow for more than an hour a day over many days, especially if you are 40 or older, overweight and smoke.

Although the symptoms of golfer’s elbow may appear gradually or suddenly, the following activities may exacerbate the condition: tightening or loosening a fuel cap, shifting gears, shaking hands, turning a door knob, flexing your wrist, lifting weights, squeezing or pitching a ball, and/or swinging a golf club or a racquet.

If left untreated, golfer’s elbow can lead to chronic elbow pain, a reduced range of elbow motion and even a lasting, fixed bend in your elbow. Fortunately, there are many effective options for self-treatment. Since you still need to work, taking time off for complete rest is probably not an option. However, even when driving, you can take the strain off your affected elbow by wearing a counter-force brace or an elastic bandage.

To reduce pain, consider using over-the-counter pain relief like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB and others), naproxen sodium (Aleve and others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) and/or a topical, deep penetrating hot/cold cream (Medistik and others).

Between loads, ice your inner elbow for 15 to 20 minutes, three or four times per day. (To protect your skin, be sure to wrap the ice pack in thin cloth).

To keep your elbow limber, try the following stretching exercises: Extend your affected arm in front of you, palms up. Bend your elbow to a 90-degree angle and turn your hand towards you. Move your fingers and thumb towards each other to make a ‘quacking duck’ movement. Repeat this ‘quacking duck’ exercise 20 times, three to five times a day.

Another stretch that works well is called the wrist flexor stretch. For this stretch, extend your affected arm straight in front of you with your fingers pointing up and your palm facing outward. With your other hand, pull your fingers gently back toward you and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat five times at least three times per day.

You could also try an exercise for forearm pronation and supination. With your affected elbow at your side, bend that elbow 90 degrees, and keeping your elbow at your side, turn your palm up and hold for five seconds. Then, slowly turn your palm down and hold for five seconds. Be sure that your elbow stays at your side, bent at 90 degrees for this exercise. Do two sets of 15 repetitions.

For persistent golfer’s elbow, surgery is occasionally recommended. Take steps to avoid it. Before pulling out with your first load, warm up your elbow joint by doing a few ‘quacking duck’ stretches. Regularly exercise to strengthen your forearm muscles – carry a tennis ball in your rig and squeeze it 50 to 100 times over each day. If you are prone to elbow pain, keep an elbow brace/elastic bandage handy and support your elbow at the first twinge of pain.

Get a grip on your future elbow strength by taking these measures today.

Content Author: Karen Bowen

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Performance and Protection

New category engine oils are better, but CJ-4 isn't yet extinct

December 2016 ushered in a new category of heavy-duty engine oils, giving fleets improved performance and additional choices. The previous category oil, CJ-4, is still in production by some oil suppliers, while the new CK-4 and FA-4 oils offer better performance and are recommended for new engines. In addition to the new American Petroleum Institute (API) standard, the various OEMs have also issued their own, often more stringent, specifications. Clear as a bucket of used oil? Here’s what you need to know to make the right decision for your trucks.

New heavy-duty engine oils are packaged at Total’s blending facility in Montreal, Que.

The case for sticking with CJ-4
One misperception about the category changeover, is the idea that the new categories would completely replace CJ-4 on Dec. 1, 2016. That’s not true and some oil providers have chosen to extend the offering of CJ-4 product indefinitely, which can be safely used in pre-2017 engines.

The boldest of these is Chevron, which is still producing and offering CJ-4 with no firm end date in place.

“Initially, going into it, a lot of people expected there would be a mandatory conversion to CK-4 or FA-4 and that hasn’t been the case,” Rommel Atienza, commercial brand manager for Chevron in North America told Truck News. “To that point, we still have a 15W-40 CJ-4 product available in the market today. That decision was made when we started to hear about the direction OEMs were going and the hesitation some of our customers had in that conversion. They really wanted to see the benefits of CK-4 and FA-4 products before they made that transition.”

Castrol also continues to provide CJ-4 product, for now. Hasan Zobairi, commercial marketing manager with Castrol distributor Wakefield Canada, predicts Castrol will complete its changeover by the end of the year. It opted to extend availability of CJ-4 in response to customer demand.

“We decided to do a gradual transition and make sure all customers were comfortable with the change rather than doing an abrupt change,” Zobairi said.

But not all oil companies see a benefit to maintaining CJ-4 oils in their portfolio, when the new category oils are simply better.

“We don’t feel there’s any benefit to keeping CJ-4 around,” said Dan Arcy, global OEM technical manager with Shell. He cited better oxidation control, improved shear stability, and the opportunity to extend drain intervals as a few of the benefits of moving to the new category oils.

Andre St-Jean, MSC chemist, lab and technical service manager with Total, said the company has transitioned completely to the new category oils, a decision that was made easy because it was able to upgrade its portfolio without passing on much, if any, upcharge to customers.

“The cost of the two products is nearly the same, so we decided we will discontinue the CJ-4 as soon as possible,” he said.

And Petro-Canada took a similar approach, removing CJ-4 from its portfolio.

“From our perspective, by continuing the production of previous category engine oils – namely CJ-4 – customers are faced with unnecessary confusion and complexity,” said Brian Humphrey, OEM technical liaison with Petro-Canada Lubricants.

The benefits of CK-4
Even those oil companies that continue to offer both the new and old oil categories acknowledge that CK-4 and FA-4 oils perform better, making a compelling case to upgrade.

The new category oils deliver “better overall engine protection and longer drain intervals,” according to Petro-Canada’s Humphrey.

But while the tighter specification may bring more parity to the performance of CK-4 oils, not all are created equal, Zobairi cautioned.

“Some companies have gone ahead and reformulated, or uptreated, their CJ-4 oils to transition to CK-4 and other companies have taken a different approach, started from scratch and re-engineered the oil,” he explained. “Those companies would see even better performance in moving from CJ-4 to CK-4.”

When choosing a CK-4 oil, don’t just look for the API donut that identifies the category, but also ensure the oil has met all the OEM specifications as well. In many cases, according to Total’s St-Jean, those OEM standards are much more stringent than the tests the API requires.

“There are two different kinds of oil in the market: the people who have the (OEM) approvals and the people who pretend to have the approvals,” St-Jean said, noting just because an oil meets the API specification doesn’t mean it has also gained the required OEM approvals.

Zobairi agrees that it’s important to look for OEM approvals, not just the API symbol.

“I think it’s absolutely critical for oil companies to be meeting those standards and for customers to be asking whether the oils they are using are actually meeting those standards and passing those tests,” Zobairi said.

In fact, St-Jean went so far as to predict the OEM certifications will eventually dictate the type of oil fleets use – and it may have to vary by engine make.

“More and more, the oil is part of the original design of the engine, so we will have more and more (OEM) specifications,” St-Jean predicted. “The OEM approval will be the decider of what product you need for your vehicle and if you want to carry one oil, maybe you will have to buy all one brand of truck.”

How about FA-4?
FA-4, the new lower-viscosity oil optimized for fuel economy thanks to its high temperature high shear properties, has seen little interest among fleets since its introduction. This is mainly due to a lack of OEM support and a lingering conviction among fleet operators that lower-viscosity engine oils offer inadequate protection.

Among the OEMs, Detroit has been the most vocal cheerleader for FA-4 oil. It factory-fills new engines with FA-4, recommends it for continued use and has even eliminated the backwards compatibility restrictions the industry was expecting, allowing FA-4 in engines as far back as model year EPA2010 engines.

“Not only do we recommend the continued use of FA-4 in our GHG17 engines, but we also recommend switching to FA-4 for EPA10 and later Detroit engines to fully achieve their fuel economy potential,” said Ed Byk, Detroit heavy-duty engine product marketing manager.

After extensive testing, Detroit is convinced engine protection isn’t compromised when moving to a thinner weight FA-4 oil.

“Our testing shows that FA-4 performs the same as CK-4 from a durability and reliability perspective and both perform better than CJ-4,” Byk said.

Humphrey said FA-4 oils can deliver a fuel economy improvement of up to 2% compared to a 15W-40 or 1% versus a 10W-30, “so there can be real cost benefits to switching to the new FA-4 category.”

Zobairi wonders why more progressive fleets aren’t taking advantage of the fuel economy performance of FA-4 oils.

“I’d like to understand why customers are hesitant, especially those using Detroit Diesel trucks, where FA-4 is backwards compatible to 2010,” he said.

But not everyone is surprised the uptake of FA-4 has been slow.

“We kind of knew it would be,” Arcy acknowledged. “Not 100% of the OEMs have elected to use FA-4 at this time. From Shell’s standpoint, we planned the uptake would go this way, that it would be slow at first and then ratchet up.”

He compared the adoption of FA-4 to when 10W-30 was introduced in 2007. At that time, Arcy pointed out, there was a gradual adoption by the OEMs and it wasn’t until 2013 that 10W-30 became a fast-growing viscosity grade.

“The rate at which the industry embraces FA-4 oils will be determined by a variety of factors, including the OEM recommendations and the purchase of the newer 2017 engines,” Humphrey agreed.

Content Author: James Menzies

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Driver turnover: Is plug and play the right way?

The issue of driver turnover has plagued the industry for over four decades now and it seems to me that trucking companies should have made better progress by now in bringing it under control. Fact is that many trucking companies see the published numbers coming from American Trucking Association and Canadian Trucking Alliance, and as long as they’re below what the estimated average for the industry is at that time, if they’re on the low side of it, they think they’re doing well. Its mass delusion and makes no sense to me, especially when the numbers usually hover around 100%, there is nothing normal about this situation.

I always find it enlightening to see what new ideas, industry suppliers come up with, these are very inventive folks, they try and entice companies to buy an off the shelf, solution to their the problem. I’ve seen many come and go over the years. Most are presented by well-meaning folks who look at trucking with its turnover issues and see great opportunity, where there is pain there is opportunity to provide solution and to profit, it’s an industry on its own.

I call these purchase opportunities plug and plays because, although they may offer some short-term gain, they never really get to the core of the issue of driver turnover. I’m talking about the quick fixes that seem to be designed to attract and retain drivers through a new gimmick or the latest offering designed to have a driver believe that they will be happier at trucking company ABC because of the utility of the gimmick in play. I don’t want to identify the companies that provide these items and services because many of these plug and plays are quite good. There are a great number of these ideas or gimmicks that would work great if they were introduced in addition to the right effort, an effort to attack retention at its core, and not as a solution to driver turnover, because they’re not.

They say there is no magic bullet to this thing called driver turnover, I think that’s wrong, and there absolutely is a magic bullet. It’s not easy nor is it a quick fix but there is a cure, but as deep as the problem is, that’s how deep you need to get in your company, to start attacking driver turnover. You’ve got to strip it down and build it back up again, you’ve got to build it up on a firm foundation, and unfortunately many are just not interested in putting the kind of effort necessary to win at the effort.

I do not hold myself out as any kind of savant on this issue; I have been at the helm of a company that had 120% turnover. It was at a time when the company I was running was growing at an exponential rate and I just lost sight of what was going on with our turnover. Call it greed call it getting lost in the frenzy of the growth, distracted by the whirlwind; whatever it was the buck stopped with me, I let it get out of hand. Might sound a little cliché, but culture is a delicate thing and once it gets out of hand or off side, you’re in trouble, you’re on a slippery slope and you don’t even know it until it’s out of control.

The actions I took, was making driver turnover an issue that was worthy of our companies efforts to get it under control that is what gives me license to offer the advice that I do. We, and I mean we, myself as President my partner and our senior management team, took our driver turnover numbers from 120% to 20% turnover in under 24 months. We went from needing to hire 300 plus drivers to maintain a fleet of 275 trucks over a one year timeframe to needing to hire less than 60 in twenty four months for a fleet size of 290 trucks.

We did this by starting at the start, no gimmicks, no plugins, no smoke and mirrors; we started by taking a good hard look in the mirror. We took responsibility for our situation, this is big for me, doesn’t matter what situations you or your business, change starts with acknowledgement that you did everything exactly right to be in the situation you are right now. Could be talking driver turnover, personal relationships, career status, whatever it is you need to own it, playing the blame game is for suckers and losers, you have to own it to change it, there is no other way.

We also secured the help of a very good consulting firm, from outside the industry, to ensure we got off to the right start with the effort. In addition we agreed as leadership that we were committed to each other to see this thing through because without that kind of rock solid commitment to the cause, it will falter. So that was our starting point, we were determined to get a handle on our situation and plot a path to rein in our out of control turnover. We had successes, we had failures we had stumbles, we had heroes and we had stars and we had to cut bait on some folks.

In the end the gains so outpaced the sacrifice, it was amazing and in retrospect we could have called it a safety initiative, because our accident rate plummeted and so did our insurance cost. We could have called it a profitability initiative because as we streamlined our processes to become driver centric, we also became much more efficient and also much more profitable. Bottom line, if and when you decided that high turnover is within your control and you can get a handle on it, you will see gains that you never expected and wonder why you haven’t done this before now….

Article By: Ray Haight

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