Manager: Steve Piper
Fleet: Piper Trucking, Warren, MI
Operation: Asphalt hauler for road construction
“Trailer wear and tear” takes on a whole new meaning when you talk to fleets like Piper Trucking. A family-owned business established in 1964, Piper Trucking operates 13 heavy straight truck dumps pulling a variety of dump trailer configurations to deliver asphalt through the six counties surrounding Detroit, MI.
“We run pretty heavy,” says Steve Piper, vp-operations. “We haul 95% asphalt from April through Christmas, usually no more than 100 mi. — typically half of that — but we're running anywhere from 148,000 lbs. fully loaded with our short doubles to almost 169,000 lbs. with our lowboy trailers. Our net weight runs around 45 tons.”
With a fleet made up of about 90% Peterbilts with the remainder Kenworths, Piper says the company tends to keep “about 80% of its maintenance in-house, except for warranty issues, heavy engine work, things like that.”
Trucks and trailers alike take quite a beating from hauling such heavy weight, but especially the trailers, says Piper. Not only do the crossmembers on the company's trailers suffer from a lot of wear due to the heavy tonnage they regularly carry, the loads also generate a lot of noise from the trailer components, causing quite a racket that drivers deal with on a daily basis.
“I still drive and I can tell you having that noise as a constant companion, even for just 50 mi., is no fun,” Piper notes.
Piper Trucking originally began using Ever-Durable Warepads (EWPs), designed and developed by GSM Innovative Products in Lenox, MI, to reduce wear and tear on its trailer suspensions, then began to see potential in other areas.
Made from a tough polymer, ultra-high molecular weight polyolefin, EWPs are designed to extend the life of truck trailer spring suspension hangers and equalizers, reduce maintenance costs, decrease downtime due to long-term maintenance, and improve the utilization of trucks — reducing leaf spring replacement in some cases by 95%. Then GSM rolled out a new version of its EWP called the “Box Pad,” designed to reduce wear and tear on trailer crossmembers.
“We used to make our own wear plates, bending and welding steel in our shop for an easy fix, but the sharp edges of the steel caused some issues, and it was hard to retrofit them on older equipment,” he says. “With the Box Pads, made as they are with thermal plastic, they were much easier to install, lasted longer, and also eliminated a lot of noise.” Piper notes the Box Pads didn't require welding or grinding prior to installation.
“They act as an isolator between two pieces of metal between the crossmember and trailer — reducing friction, and thus wear, while reducing noise generated by that friction,” Piper adds. “You definitely notice a difference inside the truck cab; you don't get that rattling sound when you stop the vehicle.”
Even better, the Box Pads provide a low-cost solution. Piper notes that to equip all 11 axles on one of his company's trucks with EWPs only costs $320 for parts and labor combined. They require minimal replacement and can last up to three years in some cases.
“And it's a simple fix for both the Box Pad and EWPs if we need to replace one; it only takes five minutes,” he says.
Maintenance Bay presents case studies detailing how fleets resolve maintenance-related issues.