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Fleet managers mainline maintenance

fleet managers took advantage of the insights and expertise offered by more than 30 presenters who addressed a variety of hot topics in nine information-packed seminars.


June 21, 2011
by Kara Kuryllowicz

Canadian Automotive Review: JUNE 2011

At the 48th annual Canadian Fleet Maintenance Seminar (CFMS) in May, fleet managers took advantage of the insights and expertise offered by more than 30 presenters who addressed a variety of hot topics in nine information-packed seminars.

“This was my third CFMS and an investment in our shop’s commitment to keeping our equipment running at the best possible cost while also keeping our drivers safe and happy,” says Brenda Alderson, assistant to Steve Haus, fleet manager, The Erb Group of Companies, New Hamburg, Ontario, which operates 600 trucks with 700 drivers across North America.

“It’s an opportunity to meet and reconnect with suppliers and maintenance managers that become valuable resources. Transportation firms’ maintenance departments face the same challenges and we regularly share ideas and solutions with colleagues across the country.”

In view of rising fuel costs and ongoing environmental concerns, there was a particular interest in the SmartWay and green alternatives panels. SmartWay, the US initiative launched by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2004, develops partnerships and identifies products and services to reduce transportation-related emissions while slashing fuel costs.

The Green Alternatives seminar addressed the latest hybrid/electronic vehicles and their potential impact on today’s fleets, their performances and bottom lines. Canada Post’s Steve Clark shared his experience with the new, all-electric eStar delivery vehicles, one of which was displayed at CFMS. “eStar offsets 9.4 tons of GHG emissions or the equivalent of about 900 trees—a 6.2 ton/600 tree saving over conventional hybrids,” said Clark.

The Hands-On Professional Training component allowed delegates to attend two of four concurrent sessions in which industry professionals tackled wheel ends, diesel particulate filter systems, selective catalytic reduction systems and hydraulic and air disc brake systems. This was a new format for the CFMS, and it received many favourable comments from delegates who appreciated the experiential learning. Dave Ongaro, general manager, CFMS, says, “Look for it again at future seminars.”

The computer technologies seminar outlined the use of computers in the maintenance shop as well as onboard systems that track vehicles, monitor driver behaviour, boost dispatch and route efficiency and help manage fuel and maintenance costs. “At CFMS, I found out about Detroit Diesel’s virtual technician which is attached to the truck’s ECM, allowing maintenance managers to determine the severity of the problem identified by the ‘check engine’ light—it puts us in the truck when we can’t physically be there,” says Alderson. “CFMS brings the latest technology to me—I don’t have to seek it out.”

Canadian Auto Repair and Service Council, a not-for-profit organization offering human resource development and training for the repair and service industry, also presented its new Trucks OnDemand online training for technicians who want to upgrade or refresh their knowledge.
“Technology in the trucking industry is continuously improving,” says Doug Elphick, president, ELM Technologies Ltd, Mississauga, Ontario. “Fleet managers can really use the new and improved products and services to enhance their companies’ productivity and efficiency.”

Les Wakeling of Canada Building Materials in Toronto, won the Canadian Fleet Manager of the year award. Now managing a 400-vehicle fleet that includes mixers, trucks and tractor trailers in 20 maintenance facilities, Wakeling has more than 34 years of fleet experience, 31 of which are with CBM. The 2012 CFMS is scheduled for May 7th to 9th.