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Commercial Vehicle Maintenance 101

The term ‘commercial vehicle’ takes on many forms; 18-wheel trucks that deliver to supermarkets, mining and earthmoving equipment, couriers and haulage companies, to name but a few. All of the commercial transport forms do have one thing in common, however, they all require regular maintenance. As you would expect, work vehicles are often pushed to their limits in order to keep to schedule and going offline could have serious consequences, which is why all vehicles strictly follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding maintenance and servicing.

Heavy Mining Equipment

We certainly have our fair share of mines in Australia and this heavy work really does take it out of the Caterpillar trucks and excavators; if a mining manager needed a Caterpillar exhaust from Aletek, a Google search would take them to the website, where they can order the part to be express shipped to the mine. There are special heavy machinery technicians who work in teams, servicing the mining equipment and replacing components with regularity and with a mobile sand-blasting unit, the technicians work quickly and when the part is replaced, they coat the equipment with a spray-on protective layer.

Online 24/7

In most large mines, the machinery is operated by 3 shifts of 8 hours per shift and perhaps a Caterpillar truck would miss one shift every month, in order to carry out the service. A breakdown would be attended to asap, with the aim of getting the machinery back online as quickly as possible, while the manager would likely have at least one of everything waiting in the wings. The mining companies have to invest heavily when they set up a mining operation and the management sets extremely high targets that must be met and with round the clock shits, the operation in continuous.

Long Haul Trucks

These beasts do require regular care and attention, with oil changes, filter cleans and air-brake checks and for most major wholesalers, having a truck go offline is not ideal, so the work is carried out promptly. Much like a car, a truck must pass an annual inspection to asses roadworthiness, which is carried out at the Land Transport Department, plus these vehicles are subject to random pollution testing and there are severe penalties for trucks that exceed the limits. With a long-term maintenance schedule, the vehicles are kept in good condition and can perform when required. Click here for tips on preparing long haul trucks for the winter, which is essential during the cold season.

Abrasive Blasting

This is a critical aspect of maintaining heavy vehicles and in a few minutes, the engine is sparkling clean, allowing the mechanic to work effectively. This might be a daily occurrence on a mine, where dust is always an issue; besides, the technicians can’t do their work without abrasive blasting, which also protects the equipment. Sandblasting contractors have an on-site facility that enables them to maintain large fleets of earthmoving trucks, dumpers and excavators and the protective coating after the blasting prolongs the life of the vehicle.

Contract Leasing

Large companies with hundreds of trucks of all sizes would likely use a lease system that includes automatic replacement at specified mileage intervals, which works out cheaper in the long run and includes a full maintenance contract and a repair service. There are strict regulations about driving heavy goods vehicles and a driver cannot exceed a specific number of hours at the wheel, plus every aspect of the truck’s performance is monitored.

Tankers

We all notice the huge gasoline and gas container trucks (who could miss them?) and these are very strictly regulated, with testing for leaks and controlled driving behaviour using in-cab technology. A tanker full of LPG weighs a lot and braking requires special knowledge and speeding is simply out of the question. The company would have a huge depot where all maintenance and repairs are carried out and servicing would be fit in with the truck’s work schedule.

Great Career Prospects

For a young person who likes working with mechanical systems, a vehicle maintenance engineer is a challenging and rewarding career with a rosy future. A couple of years at college and you would be working with an experienced mechanic for a few years, until you qualified as a vehicle technician and that would mean you are approved by Caterpillar to service their equipment. Indeed, you could apply to Caterpillar for a training position and after 3-4 years, you would be able to work in the mining industry and earn a very high salary.

Ask any business owner and they will agree that commercial vehicles must be serviced and maintained by qualified technicians, if they are to handle the very heavy schedule. If you have a fleet of vans, you know how important reliable transport is, and with a local commercial garage, you are covered.

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