Deliver last mile vehicles | FleetOwner
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an upsurge in e-commerce sales and, as a result, parcel deliveries. While e-commerce consumption has steadily increased over the years, the pandemic has accelerated this growth. According to Chris Reamsnyder, vice president of sales, utility vehicle at Raybestos, an automotive brake brand, projections suggest that this level of demand will not go away when COVID-19 subsides.
The rise in e-commerce and parcel deliveries means that last mile delivery vehicle (LMD) fleets are in more demand with more stops than ever before. They need to be prepared for increased wear and have the proper maintenance routines in place to keep these LMD vehicles on the road and out of the shop.
Last mile delivery vehicles
LMD vehicles are the last step in the delivery process; they deliver packages to their final destinations. Compared to medium and long-haul vehicles, LMD vehicles are smaller in size, making them easier to maneuver wherever packages need to be delivered – whether in a retail store or a residence. Raybestos’ Reamsnyder makes the comparison that most LMD vehicles are closer to a van than a traditional freight hauler, although some LMD vehicles are hatch lift trucks.
As demand for LMD vehicles continues to rise, more companies are moving away from single trucks delivering large shipments to a central location, notes Beth Mooney, senior director of marketing and e-commerce at Dana Aftermarket, a supplier. parts and products for commercial vehicles.
âThis trend is driving significant growth in light and medium vehicle platforms like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Ford Transit and Nissan NV,â says Beth. âThe light and medium service classification of last mile delivery vehicles opens the door for owner-operators and non-CDL drivers to get started in localized parcel delivery. This, in turn, creates a new opportunity for repair shop owners to grow their business, as service models move away from large fleet repair contracts.
In the midst of this change, repair shops need to prepare their technicians for the increasing number of LMD vehicles that will require maintenance and repairs.
Due to the stop-and-go nature of the LMD, parts and components such as drivetrain components, brakes and tires, are easily and frequently worn out, forcing these vehicles to undergo maintenance checks. Routine following OEM manual guidelines to ensure the vehicle is performing optimally.
The constant cycle of braking, accelerating, and then braking again under which LMD vehicles operate places more frequent fatigue cycles on transmission components, gears, bearings, etc. electrification for Meritor, a global supplier to manufacturers of commercial vehicles for specialty industries with a wide range of alternatives, from drivetrains to brake systems.
Although most drivetrain systems are closed systems, which means they are designed to run for the life of the vehicle, says Pillai, the key to keeping these drivetrain components functioning properly is lubrication. .
âWe have a lot of recommendations in our maintenance manuals,â says Pillai. “Which oils to use for which application, when is the first oil change, what is the [next] emptying, [et cetera]. “
If a component needs to be replaced, Mooney stresses the importance of installing quality parts that are “virtually maintenance free and offer individual replacement”, such as the Spicer three-piece driveshaft. Because Dana pre-balances Spicer driveshafts, it cuts replacement time since technicians no longer need to use a balancing machine, she explains.
The high frequency of stops during LMD operations can quickly wear out the brakes.
âUnlike Class 7 and 8 trucks which tend to have longer brake service intervals, last mile delivery vehicles may require two or three braking jobs per year,â says Reamsnyder of Raybestos. âPlus, since last mile vehicles frequently drive through neighborhoods, the brakes not only need to have a long life, but they also need to be quiet.â
Justin McCoy, Senior Product Manager for Disc Brakes at Meritor, provides a checklist to maintain brake systems on LMD vehicles.
- Check the brake fluid to make sure it is free of moisture and dust.
- Check the wheel bearings for excessive movement.
- Check the rotors for uneven side-to-side wear, taper, and cracks.
- Check if the brake pads are cracked or lacking friction.
“Maintenance practices are not only important in extending the life of the braking system of last mile vehicles, but they help ensure the safety of the driver, passengers, other vehicle operators and pedestrians.” , says Reamsnyder. “Safety is paramount.”
LMD also has an accelerated effect on tire life.
Chris Novak, Business Manager, Urban Mobility for tire manufacturer Michelin North America, lists the qualities fleets should look for in LMD vehicle tires.
- Durability over extended mileage
- Ability to carry heavy loads with confidence
- Better protection against shocks, punctures and aggressions
- All-season (or all-season) performance for harsh working conditions all year round, as well as for wet braking in high stress applications
Regardless of which tires a fleet chooses, all vehicles must pass the appropriate tire maintenance checks. The number one item on this list should be to check the tires for the correct pressure.
âA tire whose optimum air pressure is 20% less than the optimum pressure is considered a flat tire,â says Novak. âA tire that rolls in these conditions will experience carcass fatigue which could lead to catastrophic failure or zipper failure. If the tire has been underinflated to 20%, it should be removed from the vehicle and scrapped. According to CSA guidelines, a tire that operates at less than 50% of maximum pressure (sidewall) is out of service. “
In addition to always checking tire pressure, visual inspections should be performed to look for signs of irregular wear in areas of the tire tread or shoulder. Tires should be kept clean by washing them with lukewarm soap and water to prevent premature aging or deterioration. In addition, the tires should not be mixed, especially on the axle. Fleets should ensure that all tires on a vehicle are matched to the same tread depths, tread patterns and height or diameter, notes Novak.
In the future
The increase in demand for LMD means not only that fleets have to keep an eye on maintenance, but also that they have to keep an eye on the future. As the use of LMD vehicles grows, features and designs adapt.
Safety features, such as rear view cameras and lane departure alerts, are being added to LMD vehicles, and on some are already an option.
Brian Tabel, executive director of marketing for Isuzu Commercial Trucks of America, a commercial vehicle and diesel engine manufacturing company, notes that Isuzu has added these devices as optional features to help reduce crashes and keep drivers aware. of their environment.
Isuzu LMD vehicles also have a low cabin front design, which means the vehicle has a longer body with a footprint similar to that of a conventional vehicle, but has the capacity to carry more than merchandise. Although space is a necessity for cargo, the smaller the LMD vehicle, the better it performs in terms of handling, which is especially important in situations such as crowded drop-off locations.
Another development with LMD vehicles is the switch to electrification. With advances in battery technology over the past 10 to 15 years, the industry is reaching a point where it makes economic sense to switch to electric vehicle use, notes Pillai of Meritor.
“The [are] several projects underway with several OEMs that are kind of in a rush, âPillai says. âA technological race to launch products here in a year or two. We don’t see much on the road already, but a lot is happening right now that will change the dynamics in the years to come.