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Enhancing maintenance key to fleet’s operations

Electronic inspection reports are the latest tools Southeastern Freight Lines is employing to improve operations and customer service.

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“We have a stringent vehicle maintenance program and a great team in the field that keeps our equipment operating efficiently,” says David Foster, vice president of maintenance at Southeastern Freight Lines. “Everybody, in operations and our maintenance associates, realizes the value of identifying problems and making repairs in our shops versus having an outside vendor complete them. Minimizing unscheduled repairs leads to reduced downtime and lower costs, and helps us provide better customer service.”

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Columbia, S.C.-based Southeastern Freight Lines operates more than 13,000 vehicles domiciled at 76 service centers in 12 states and Puerto Rico. The privately owned regional less-than-truckload transportation services provider, founded in 1950, specializes in next-day service in the southeast and southwest.

  Southeastern Freight Lines Trailer Specifications
  Model: Great Dane P Series
  Length: 28 ft.
  Landing Gear: Jost A441 Magnum  No-Lube
  Axles: ArvinMeritor TP
  Suspension: Hutchens H9700
  Oil Seals: Stemco
  Brakes: ABEX
  ABS: Bendix 2S/1M
  Slack Adjusters: Haldex
  Tires: Michelin XZE2

The Southeastern fleet consists of 2,525 tractors. Among the newest are International 8600 and Freightliner M2 Business Class models for P&D operations and International ProStar and Volvo VNL units for linehaul service.

The carrier’s 8,256 trailers are primarily Great Danes, including 68 new P-Series dry vans with Maxon liftgates and 654 28-footers ordered this year. Great Dane is also the fleet’s primary supplier of converter dollies with 308 on order, while Capacity is the manufacturer of many of its 104 yard jockeys. The balance of the fleet is made up of autos, 38 service trucks and 734 forklifts.

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In 22 shops spread throughout the carrier’s service territory, six regional maintenance managers oversee the efforts of 342 technicians who handle all maintenance and repair needs for the Southeastern Freight Lines fleet. At the corporate level, led by Foster, is a highly experienced management team, which includes Lee Long, director of maintenance, Chip Sheely, director of fleet services, Jim Boyd, manager of fleet technical services, Bonnie Cosper, warranty manager, Steve Burdian, tire and engineering manager, and Harold Black, tire manager. Regional managers include Steve Lansdon, Will Pitts, Mike McDaniel, Scott Shimer, John Maughmer and Chris Emrich.

Proving beneficialDavid Foster, vice president of maintenance
“We have maintenance management software that was developed in-house about 20 years ago and still serves our needs very effectively,” Foster relates. “Recently, we decided to enhance our ability to manage repairs by adopting an electronic inspection reporting system. With more than 80% of the repairs on our vehicles handled by our own shops, a more efficient means of managing this activity is proving to be beneficial.”

Now in use in Southeastern Freight Lines’ main shop is a driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR) solution from Innovative Software Engineering (ISE). The DVIR is a full-featured, FMCSA-compliant application that automates DOT required vehicle inspection reporting and record keeping. Last year, the carrier deployed ISE’s Electronic Driver Log application fleet-wide, and is now using the software to process more than 26,000 paperless driver logs each month.

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  Southeastern Freight Lines Linehaul
  Tractor Specifications
Model: International ProStar
Wheelbase: 154 in.
Engine: MaxxForce 13L
Clutch: Eaton Easy Pedal Advantage
Transmission: Eaton Fuller FRO-15210C
Driveshafts: Dana Spicer SPL250XL
Front Axle: ArvinMeritor MFS-12-122A
Power Steering: TRW PCF60
Rear Axle: ArvinMeritor RT-40-145
Wheel Seals: Stemco
Brakes: ABEX
ABS: Bendix 4S/4M with Roll Stability
Automatic Slack Adjusters: Haldex
Parking Brakes: Haldex
Wheels: Accuride
Tires: Goodyear; G395 steer, G372A drive
5th Wheel: Jost JSK37 Series
Air Compressor: Bendix 15.9 CFM
Air Dryer: Bendix AD-IS
Fan Clutch: Horton V-Master-Ultra
Starter: Mitsubishi 105P
Alternator: Delco 36-SI
Lighting: Grote LED
Seats: National HP High Back
Fuel Tanks: dual, 8-gal. aluminum
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Model: Volvo VNL        
Wheelbase: 152 in.
Engine: Cummins ISX15
Clutch: Eaton Easy Pedal Advantage
Transmission: Eaton Fuller FRO-15210C
Driveshafts: Dana Spicer SPL250XL
Front Axle: ArvinMeritor FF961
Power Steering: TRW THP60
Rear Axle: ArvinMeritor RS23-160
Wheel Seals: Dana Spicer Outrunner
Brakes: ABEX
ABS: Bendix 4S/4M with Roll Stability
Automatic Slack Adjusters: Haldex
Parking Brakes: Anchorlock
Wheels: Accuride
Tires: Michelin; XZE2 steer, XDA5 drive
5th Wheel: Jost JSK37 Series
Air Compressor: Meritor WABCO 18.7 CFM
Air Dryer: Bendix AD-IP
Fan Clutch: Borg Warner (Kysor)
Starter: Delco 39MTHD
Alternator: Delco 36-SI
Lighting: Grote LED
Seats: National HP High Back
Fuel Tanks: dual, 75-gal. aluminum

Once a few minor changes to report generating and printing parameters are completed, Foster reports, the ISE DVIR will be rolled out to all 22 of the company’s maintenance and repair facilities. “The DVIR application is easy for our drivers and maintenance technicians to use,” he adds. “It improves productivity by providing real-time visibility into defects requiring repair.”
The DVIR solution from ISE works through a mobile interface to automatically prompt the driver to inspect each vehicle before and after operation. Drivers select from customizable lists of parts and accessories and common defect descriptions. The fleet’s maintenance personnel use a web interface to review defects and deficiencies, enter notes and certify that repairs have been made.

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When the next driver takes the wheel, the mobile application retrieves the latest defect and repair information for the power unit and current trailers, creating a reviewable DVIR for the entire combination. After reviewing the report, the driver checks one or more boxes to indicate satisfaction that the vehicle is in safe operating condition.

Reducing costs
“Chasing down paperwork from drivers, especially when we’re undergoing a DOT audit, has always been a challenge,” Foster says. “The ISE DVIR will help us transition to an electronic process, eliminating countless paper forms for our tractors and trailers and reducing costs by eliminating the manual processing of countless three-part paper driver inspection reports.

“So much paper is routed through our systems,” Foster adds, “so maintenance activities can be challenging to schedule and complete in a timely manner. Real-time electronic communication of inspection reports also improves safety and compliance by enabling more efficient flow and control of the documentation process.”

All of that, Foster notes, puts Southeastern Freight Lines in an even better position to provide the high quality service that the carrier is known for among its customers. “We have a more than 99% on-time service record in next day lanes,” he states, “in part because of our technology, and even more so because everyone on our team is dedicated to service, quality and continuous improvement.”

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