While it goes without saying that vehicle breakdowns are detrimental to any fleet, such malfunctions are particularly devastating to the food and beverage industry. When the refrigerated vehicles that transport most of what you eat and drink suddenly fail, their temperature-sensitive cargo is often ruined.
This means that vehicle breakdowns harm the bottom lines of food and beverage fleets from two directions—loss of revenue (due to spoiled product) and additional expense (in the form of repair costs).
Tips to Improve your Refrigerated Fleet Maintenance Program
Organizations that deal in cold chain logistics should strive to do everything in their power to minimize unplanned downtime. Let’s go over inspection tactics and maintenance plans food and beverage fleets can use to keep their vehicles and cold chain technologies in tip-top condition.
Inspect for Defects That Degrade Thermal Efficiency
To safely transport perishable food and beverages, refrigerated trailers (commonly referred to as “reefer trailers”) typically maintain temperatures between 0°F (for frozen goods) and 50°F (for hardier produce). Keeping things cool hinges in large part to how hard refrigeration units have to work to overcome external climates.
For example, plastic strip curtains may seem unremarkable, but they are actually rather effective at keeping cool air in and warm air out. Before embarking on any delivery run, drivers would be well-advised to ensure that their trailer curtains are intact.
Additionally, the inner and outer walls of refrigerated trailers are specially insulated to function much like a thermos. But as moisture, rips and punctures accumulate over time, their ability to lock in cold temperatures degrades. To ensure such damage doesn’t go overlooked, drivers should inspect the inside and outside of their trailers for any signs of wear before hitting the road.
By ensuring their trailers are in proper condition, drivers save their refrigeration units from having to overexert themselves. In doing so, they reduce the likelihood of costly breakdowns from occurring.
With the help of a mobile fleet management app, conducting and recording inspections couldn’t be easier. Drivers simply follow a customizable checklist, leaving explanatory comments whenever necessary. Users can even pull up a truck, van or trailers’ vehicle inspection history to review how its condition was reported previously.
Clean Up Thoroughly and Consistently
As it relates to food safety, everyone knows that sanitation is of the utmost importance. But did you know that keeping things clean also benefits the health of your refrigerated vehicles?
When transporting perishable goods, it’s not uncommon for small bits of debris, moisture, and frost to find their way into the various nooks and crannies of a refrigerated trailer. In addition to providing surfaces for bacteria to grow, when given enough time, these innocuous spills can clog drains, obstruct air vents, and deteriorate insulation.
For that reason, food and beverage fleets should get in the habit of regularly cleaning their refrigerated trailers. By pressure washing the floor, ceiling, walls, and door seals of their reefers, fleets can prevent these small spills from snowballing into major equipment failures.
Develop a Robust Preventive Maintenance Schedule
Finally, one of the best ways for food and beverage fleets to stay on top of their vehicles’ service needs is to develop a robust preventive maintenance schedule. In addition to the usual oil changes and wheel alignments, fleets can schedule belt and hose replacements for their refrigeration units to occur on regular intervals (based on hours of operation, engine life cycle, etc.). As part of a broader fleet maintenance program, this approach allows technicians to do everything they can to bolster the reliability of their fleet’s vehicles and refrigeration units.
Looking to improve your cold chain asset monitoring? Fleetio’s cold chain fleet management software can enhance how your organization handles maintenance, monitors fuel usage and tracks costs. See for yourself what our solutions can offer by starting a free trial or requesting a demo today.