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Good looks, ENDURANCE

Vehicle colors and graphics speak volumes about a fleet; good paint systems protect tractors and trailers

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Vehicle colors and graphics speak volumes about a fleet; good paint systems protect tractors and trailers

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Tractor/trailers are moving billboards. Whether brightly colored and decked out in fabulous graphics or not – trucks reveal many things about the fleets that own them.

A good company color scheme, logo or graphics can build image and recognition. Quality paint professionally applied helps trucks look their best, and finishes can help fleets protect their investment.

Paint finishes

The paint system experts at DuPont say it’s important for trucking fleets to choose the best paint systems because they need quality performance to handle the road conditions and to protect the trucks through their life cycle. Developing and selecting coating systems that provide predictable performance helps control maintenance cost.

So what is the best paint system? DuPont defines it as that which fits both the fleet manager’s budget constraints and the equipment’s life cycle expectations.

Image is everything, so fleet truck finishes need to look great and last over time. The gloss, distinction of image and depth of color help to promote the fleet image and branding. A corporate color and scheme will trigger mental recognition within the general, and subliminal response is common in many cases.

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The maintenance of the truck’s finish is important for the long term. DuPont suggest that fleets follow all instructions provided by wash chemical suppliers. Their products can be alkaline or acidic based, so a thorough rinse is critical to minimize damage to the finish. The pH on the surface needs to be in the range of 6 to 8 pH.

Graphics

When it comes to fleet graphics, 3M recommends the use of its 3M Controltac Plus Graphic Films with ComplyAdhesive, according to Tim Boxeth, 3M marketing supervisor.

“We invented repositionable graphic films that permit fast and easy installation of large graphics,” he said. “These films can be positioned and repositioned until they are precisely aligned. Then they can be firmly adhered. While doing so, patented air release channels permit the elimination of trapped air bubbles.”

The advantages of using films for graphics rather than painting logos and other graphics is that using film is quicker and less expensive than painting, according to 3M. New digital printing processes permit cost-effective short runs for just a few vehicles, the company said.

Also, 3M introduced lower cost films designed for short-term promotional use. This is handy when a fleet manager wants to change promotional messages frequently. Instead of the time and cost involved to repaint, new graphics can be printed and installed in as little time as one day, the company said.

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To maintain films, fleet operators should refer to the film manufacturer’s instructions provided by the sign printer/installer. In general, however, fleet managers can follow these 3M suggestions:

1. For non-digitally printed graphics (e.g., screen printed), use a cleaner designed for high quality painted surfaces. The cleaner must be wet, non-abrasive, without strong solvents and have a pH value between 3 to 11.

2. For digitally printed graphics, use a wet, non-abrasive cleaner that contains no solvents and no alcohol and has a pH value between 3 to 11.

3. Exterior graphics may be power washed. However, aggressive washing can damage a film graphic as well as painted graphics).

Fleet image

UPS was asked for its perspective on the importance of developing and maintaining a corporate image through the use of a logo, color or design on delivery trucks. A company spokesperson said its vehicles are seen by millions of people every day, as they travel across the country picking up and delivering packages and freight.

Its vehicles allow the company to showcase its brand in a visible way. The company said it designed its vehicles to be simple, moving billboards. The brown package delivery vehicles are a brand icon that many people recognize and associate with UPS. When people see a UPS truck, it’s hard to miss the large UPS logo on the front of the cab. The company says its new freight trucks were branded to reflect the legacy color grey of Overnite with the addition of UPS brown. The trailers have "UPS Freight" in large letters to indicate the big and heavy side of UPS.

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The UPS Automotive group mandates that all vehicles maintain proper branding, are clean and in good working order. A dirty truck with old decals does not reflect well on a company’s image.

The company’s brand strategy for vehicles also includes driver appearance. UPS driver uniforms are designed to compliment the truck branding in color and neatness. For maintenance of paint and graphics, each district has a painting program and paints its vehicles on an as-needed basis. The average package car is painted every five years, according to the company.

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