“Our plan is right on target,” says Peter J. Nativo, director of maintenance at Oakley Transport. “We have a three-year business plan to grow in the market for the transportation of liquid bulk food grade products. Included is replacing all of our tractors with new units so we can take advantage of the cost savings we can realize from an increase in fuel economy and a decrease in maintenance costs.
“We started in 2012 when engines with SCR became available,” Nativo continues. “We heard that there was going to be a large increase in MPG and we wanted to build our plan around that. Our 2012 tractors are getting 7.04 MPG compared to 6.5 MPG in the units they replaced. We saved over $250,000 in fuel with those trucks during the first year. In 2013, we took delivery of 85 more units and we have 100 tractors scheduled to be delivered by June of ‘04.”
Headquartered in Lake Wales, Fla., Oakley Transport is a family-owned and operated liquid bulk food grade transportation services provider. The company fields 310 tractors, a number that will grow to more than 350 by June of this year, and has 550 Brenner, Walker and Polar tank trailers. The fleet operates from terminals in Lake Wales, Fla., and in Laredo, Texas, and has a physical presence in Springfield, Mo., West Memphis, Ark., Louisville, Ky., and Savannah, Ga.
Fuel saving initiatives at Oakley Transport include outfitting all new tractors with Carrier Comfort Pro auxiliary power units with in-cab climate control, a 12,000 BTU air conditioner and heating system, 120-volt power with GFI protection, and a battery charging system.
“Our average idle time is in single digit numbers, which is very low,” Nativo says. “We also have a fuel manager whose primary job is to look at the fleet’s MPG and work to continuously ensure we’re getting optimum efficiency. Recently, for example, he identified a group of new tractors that was getting lower fuel mileage and now he has the OEM’s engineering team looking into the issue.”
Safety is another focus at Oakley Transport. “We now have Bendix electronic roll stability control systems on all tractors and Meritor WABCO RSS Plus systems and all new trailers in the fleet,” Nativo relates. “Their cost is easily justified by preventing one rollover. We also use Meritor P.S.I. tire inflation systems on all trailers to help prevent blowouts and potential accidents on the highway.
Nativo adds, “currently we’re ordering collision avoidance systems from Volvo to test in our fleet. Those systems have an automatic speed reduction capability that is activated even when the driver has the cruise control engaged. That’s something we saw as an issue with other solutions on the market, which send an audible alert but do not reduce speed automatically if the cruise control is on.”
As a liquid bulk carrier, Nativo says that one of Oakley Transport’s biggest concerns is vehicle weight. “We’re specifying Hendrickson Intraax AAT air ride suspensions on all new trailers to help address that issue,” he reports. “Those systems are designed specifically for use in liquid bulk tanker applications.”
To protect all of its equipment investments and reduce maintenance costs, Oakley Transport is also purchasing extended warranty coverage. The packages provide for longer warranties on all new tractors, including exhaust components and turbochargers, as well as air conditioning systems.
Supporting the fleet at Oakley Transport, Nativo notes, is well-trained and highly capable staff at the company’s full service shop in it Lake Wales facility. “We also use more than 250 Volvo Trucks dealerships throughout the country for major repairs and some service work,” he explains further, “and last fall we established a relationship with Ryder for service at any of its more than 575 locations in the U.S. and Canada.”
To manage company shop and outside service locations on a daily basis, Oakley Transport’s 24/7 breakdown department uses Innovative RX software. For working with Volvo Trucks dealers, the company also employs the ASIST service management platform developed for the OEM by Decisiv Inc.
ASIST lets Oakley Transport receive electronic estimates and approve repairs regardless of the vehicle’s location. The online tool allows the carrier to monitor vehicle status, communicate directly with the dealer and maintain an electronic “file cabinet” of service activities. Additionally, by consolidating all maintenance events and communication in one web-based tool, invoice and repair surprises are eliminated.
“ASIST works great for us,” Nativo states. “On the web-based platform we can see repair updates as the unit is being worked on so our breakdown department and shop personnel have the benefit of knowing how a repair is progressing, without having to call the service department of the dealership and sit on hold for 20 minutes. That frees them up to do other work and address other issues. We even have a separate email address so everyone involved, including myself, receives updates from ASIST and doesn’t have to ask the breakdown manager.”
Nativo goes on to point out that regardless of where preventive maintenance on the Oakley Transport fleet takes place, oil analysis is performed at every PM interval after a vehicle reaches 400,000 miles. “That’s done to ensure we catch any engine issues before our 500,000-mile warranty expires,” he relates, “and it continues as long as we own the asset so we can see any early signs of engine failure.
“We also established a battery replacement program a couple of years ago and now change batteries every two years on all tractors,” Nativo adds. “We were spending a lot of money on replacement batteries so by doing this we have almost eliminated costly failures on the road.”
Tires and wheels receive special attention at Oakley Transport as well. “We use double seal valve caps on all tires and we rotate drive and steer tires every 50,000 miles,” Nativo says. “By doing that we’re getting 20% better tire wear. Additionally, every time a tractor comes into our shop, all tires are checked for proper pressure, studs are examined for corrosion or damage and replaced as needed, and wheel nut torque on tractors and trailers is measured by hand with a torque wrench. We have a maintenance technician perform pre-trip inspections on every tractor and trailer leaving our yard, including checking that all wheel nuts are set to the proper specification.”
Nothing to chance
During his 29-year career in the heavy-duty trucking industry, including 17 years with liquid bulk operations, Nativo has learned to leave nothing to chance. From his first job as a mechanic in the late 1970s, as director and vice president of maintenance at different trucking companies, including Oakley Transport since 2011, and through his involvement with the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC), he has continually applied lessons he has learned.
“It’s all about ensuring dependability and low cost per mile,” Nativo states. “At Oakley Transport, we’re moving full speed ahead to achieve those goals while we grow our fleet, and strive to be one of the most efficient, reliable and safest transporters of liquid food grade products in the industry.”