Seventh-inning stretch

Manager: Ed Frock Title: VP-maintenance & purchasing Fleet: Frock Bros. Trucking, New Oxford, PA Operation: Nationwide truckload supplemented by LTL top freight PROBLEM One look at a shiny Frock Bros. Kenworth and you know this fleet doesn't skimp on equipment. Frock Bros. runs 80 KWs, mostly W900Ls but also T600 and T800 models as well as over 150 Great Dane and Utility trailers including reefers.

Manager: Ed Frock

Title: VP-maintenance & purchasing

Fleet: Frock Bros. Trucking, New Oxford, PA

Operation: Nationwide truckload supplemented by LTL “top freight”

PROBLEM

One look at a shiny Frock Bros. Kenworth and you know this fleet doesn't skimp on equipment.

Frock Bros. runs 80 KWs, mostly W900Ls but also T600 and T800 models as well as over 150 Great Dane and Utility trailers including reefers.

According to Ed Frock, the fleet is smart about what it buys — Kenworth tractors, Cummins engines, Bridgestone tires are among its top choices — and when it buys.

A truckload operation that hauls mostly foodstuffs and industrial products, Frock boosts profitability whenever possible via its “top freight” concept. This involves placing light LTL freight — such as fiberglass racecar bodies — on “top” of heavy product, like chain, in the same trailer.

As progressive-thinking an operation as Frock Bros. is, it has nonetheless been willing to extend a well-established tractor trade cycle as it felt conditions warranted.

A weak used-truck market coupled with uncertainty over how new EPA ‘02 engines would perform compelled the fleet to put new truck purchases on hold for a couple of years.

SOLUTION

“We made the decision to stop buying new after the 2002 emissions caused Cummins to put EGR on their engines,” explains Frock. “We were not comfortable buying into that technology right away and were able to hold off thanks to the strength of our maintenance department and its practices.”

Also testament itself to maintenance prowess is Frock Bros.' previous 6-year/1-million-mile trade cycle. “We now have some 1996 tractors that are still running well in our service,” Frock remarks.

To keep such practically vintage trucks in cross-country service means taking extremely good and close care of their engines.

But along with meticulous attention to maintenance, Frock credits the 100% Cummins fleet's N14 engines with being “bulletproof, able to go a million or a million and a quarter miles before needing a rebuild.”

Once a rebuild is ordered, Frock does it in-house. “All engine work is done in our own shop,” he states. “We only send engines to the Cummins dealer if under warranty.

“We rebuild engines when we decide it's time and so, for now, have no set trade cycle on tractors,” Frock continues.

If there is a problem with an engine that a rebuild can't fix, Frock will drop in a reconditioned Cummins engine in its stead.

While there is no engine-rebuild bogey to aim for, the fleet does track oil consumption monthly and performs regular oil analysis. “When consumption is 500 miles a quart we know it's time to do something.”

While he does not credit it with extending engine life, Frock says the fleet has been using Mobil Delvac 1 synthetic lube for five or six years now and says it has enabled the fleet to maintain a 75,000-mile drain interval.

And while it has not gone back to a set trade cycle, Frock Bros. recently put its first trucks with EGR engines into service so, as Frock puts it, “we can get our feet wet.

“We know engine emission regs are not going away,” he adds, “and 2007 will not get better. We have to start getting ready for it now.”




Maintenance Bay presents case studies detailing how fleets resolve maintenance-related issues in their own facilities

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