Quality trailer inspections are often the difference between your trucks getting to their destination without hassle or ending up on the side of the road with a violation. However, getting that quality inspection takes more than training. Service technicians must be accountable for their work and avoid human error at all costs.
“The most common inspection points that are overlooked on trailer inspections are mostly due to simple human error,” said Ian Vinci, vice president of sales at Innovative Products of America (IPA). “Anything can be overlooked such as a single light being out, or air brakes not being configured to proper regulations.”
The first part of creating accountability is direction. A fleet’s director of maintenance should have processes in place for service techs to ensure that trailer inspections are completed properly under the same protocol. This includes tracking what technicians are performing (did they check the brake lights and tire tread depth?) and following that inspection up with PM schedules.
Original equipment manufacturers are also building parameters and protocols into their trailer testers to make sure techs are following the same protocol and completing the same work.
“The director of maintenance can build their own inspection parameters right on the Alpha MUTT [Mobile Universal Trailer Tester]’s tablet and disseminate them to all their locations,” Vinci said, speaking of IPA’s advanced trailer tester. “This includes adding and deleting fields to create custom PM and Annual inspections.”
“Since each inspection is recorded, managers can now accurately track their technician performance, PM schedules and ultimately limit roadside violations that are a direct result of poor inspections,” he added.
Creating checks and balances with a trailer tester will also help your service techs from overlooking inspection points. Integrating data with protocol will help you make calculated decisions in how your techs perform trailer inspections.
“The Alpha MUTT records all of the data from each inspection, even the cause of failure in an electrical circuit,” Vinci noted. “This data can be stored anywhere the fleet chooses and can be analyzed for patterns of failures. Reviewing past inspections performed by the Alpha MUTT will show trends and other predictive failure points. When used properly, this information can lead to faster inspections and less costly repairs.
“By capturing all relevant inspection data, including user and vehicle information along with detailed inspection results, trailer testers creates accountability at the shop level,” Vinci added.
In addition to helping with protocol and recording data needed to create the best trailer inspection plan for your fleet, advanced trailer testers on the market today can also help techs troubleshoot with the ease of remote controls, and tablets. System checks on such tester can include ABS, air brakes, electrical circuitry, vehicle testing, etc.
“It is critical to use an advanced trailer tester,” Vinci said. “It creates a checks and balances system, which, if used properly, can virtually eliminate overlooking inspection points.”