Work trucks and other essential construction vehicles are an integral part of any productive jobsite. After all, it’s the indispensable role of transportation equipment to move new materials, supplies and machinery in and unwanted excess dirt, debris and other refuse out.
When these construction workhorses break down, so does the potential to maintain effective, on-the-job project management protocols. And once the ability to adhere to tight and demanding deadlines begins to slip, the entire construction project — not to mention every team involved in the process — is at risk for becoming less effective.
Just imagine the chaos that would ensue on any residential or commercial build if the work vehicles and machinery that operations managers and foremen depend on were to become nonoperational or damaged for any number of reasons. Activity would literally grind to a virtual halt within hours, if not minutes — costing project managers time and money.
It’s critical for the building industry to make construction truck and vehicle management a top priority. Ensuring that your company’s fleet is looking sharp, in prime mechanical condition, and job-ready at all times is a pivotal part of managing a streamlined construction operation.
Proper management of a larger fleet line especially isn’t cheap — but when mismanaged, it can quickly drain a disproportionate amount of allocated project funds. And that’s a major headache for operations managers.
There are number of areas in which fleet supervisors can keep a watchful eye to help keep their trucks in top working and aesthetic condition, starting with protecting vehicle exteriors to extend the life cycle of key equipment — and improve their safe use.
Safeguarding Work Truck Exteriors
Construction truck fleets require a major investment and significant upkeep. Work vehicles are often required to perform in formidable weather extremes—enduring blistering heat in the summer months and degrading climate conditions in the winter. Both of these temperate conditions can quickly erode paint surfaces and cause peeling, flaking and deterioration.
Because a construction company’s fleet serves as a virtual, on-the-road, moving billboard for its brand, keeping vehicle exterior surfaces looking clean and tidy — with sharp, easily visible logos — is important for both maintaining the firm’s reputation and for gaining new and potential customers.
Additionally, in order to better protect your overall fleet truck financial investment and extend the life cycle and value of the vehicles in your line—it’s imperative to keep each piece of machinery free of the dents, dings and abrasions that can typically occur in and around a busy construction environment.
One option is to treat your entire fleet with a polyurea-based elastomer coating. This and other similar high tensile-strength sealants can apply an added layer of protection to vehicle exteriors, which safeguards overall exposed surfaces, including wheel wells, fenders, bumpers and truck beds. This same material can also coat and protect interior surfaces such as flooring, dashes, steering wheels and even seats.
Protective coating administered in the form of a spray-on application is affordable and can help to mitigate the road damage that can denigrate your fleets’ appearance and reduce resale value. A premier polyurethane-based solution won’t bubble or flake off, even after prolonged use.
The solution can also help to preserve a vehicle’s color and ward off the affects from ultraviolet sun ray penetration in the warmer months and cold weathering in the winter. This results in a uniform, consistent look across your fleet that can send other prospective clients a positive brand message about your organization.
Additionally, spray-on elastomer coating provides a nonslip grip on flatbed surfaces, which helps to reduce accidents and injury during cargo loading and unloading—creating a safer work environment for your fleet team that is responsible for hauling and moving materials that can shift and slide during transit.
While environmental damage can cause premature physical aging on your fleet, there is nothing more detrimental to your investment than outright theft or vandalism. There are myriad ways that burglars can wreak havoc on construction vehicles and other resources that aren’t properly monitored, especially during off-hours.
Of course, raw materials sitting around a construction jobsite (piles of valuable plywood, electrical tools and other supplies) are always especially vulnerable targets.
Most operators today are savvy when it comes to locking down these worksite essentials, but one area of jobsite maintenance that is often overlooked revolves around construction vehicles, including trucks, cargo vans, flatbeds and other load-carrying equipment. These vehicles are all at risk for potential theft whenever they are
Smash-and-grab break-ins aren’t just petty crimes. On a large jobsite — or when carried out across multiple worksite locations — they can have a strong impact on the operational bottom line and the already stretched-thin pocketbooks of investors.
Valuable tools, electronics and even competitive blueprints can easily be taken, without the possibility of recovery. To reduce the risk of fleet theft, the following are a few tips to keep work trucks safe from criminal activity.
Keep work truck windows as darkly tinted as local and state requirements will allow. Items that are harder to spot make for less attractive targets.
Consider metal mesh placements inside the windows. Even if they’re vulnerable to break-ins, most burglars will likely be deterred by this “second barrier” and less inclined to risk the extra complication.
Install break-resistant safety glass to deter quick and easy window smashing (most construction equipment theft comes as a result of potential burglars spotting a speedy means of accessing the items that they want to steal). Any investment that will hinder the swiftness of the would-be thief’s actions will help keep your company’s equipment safer in the long run and amount to a good decision overall.
In larger vehicles, consider utilizing an internal cage for extra precaution and theft protection.
Make certain to keep valuables out of sight and compartmentalized in locked cases using a digital entry keypad. Also, consider creating a visor adhesive “reminder” for work truck fleet drivers that prompts employees and contractors, such as: “Please keep all valuables, tools and plans in a secure compartment.”
Unnecessary Vehicle Overstock
One of the more obvious, but often overlooked, areas where construction fleet managers can hemorrhage additional expense — as well as time — is to maintain a larger-than-necessary equipment operation.
While it’s essential to not be under-supported and left without adequate transportation resources, many operators fail to carefully track workflow requirements—and end up keeping excess fleet truck inventory on their balance sheet.
Underutilized trucks carry heavy overhead (in terms of maintenance requirements, insurance and other upkeep) that can drain already strapped project budgets.
Adhering to good resource management and keeping tabs on under- and over-vehicle utilization versus anticipated and actual production needs is just one other essential way to achieve better fiscal management on the job.
Regular Maintenance Repairs
While it sounds like a no-brainer, too many work truck fleet owners and providers forget or bypass the regular steps necessary to ensure their fleet lineup is fail-safe before an accident or breakdown occurs.
It’s understandable that when budgets are tight in the construction field — as they are at present (especially during the financially challenging climate imposed by the coronavirus pandemic) — project managers may look to ease back on proactive measures wherever feasibly possible. But a little advance planning is always a good dose of prevention. This is especially true when it comes to stealth transportation and fleet equipment management.
Construction fleet vehicles of all kinds — from pickup trucks to dump trucks, tractors, trailers, service bodies and stake bed trucks — are invaluable tools across the entire building and development spectrum.
When critical transportation machinery goes down, construction jobsite productivity can rapidly stall — costing operators dearly, not to mention leaving a potentially large workforce of full-time employees, contractors and skilled trade partners sitting idle when they don’t receive an expected materials delivery.
Basic equipment repair essentials should always include an assessment of the following:
- Tire safety and repair
- Checking all valves, gaskets, switches, pumps and
- seals thoroughly
- Inspecting critical components that can denigrate with use
Smart operators will make proactive adjustments or replacements an essential part of ongoing maintenance and accident prevention. While work vehicles and moving machinery are just one line item on a larger accounting ledger, jobsite transportation is nonetheless an absolutely key component to maintaining a productive project schedule for a firm.
By following some basic guidelines when it comes to best practices for work truck fleet management, construction operators can ensure a safer and more fiscally responsible outcome — both for their clients and the many employees and contractors who depend on smooth, deadline-focused project management.