industry insights

Increasing uptime and managing costs are critical for fleets, especially in the current operating environment. Leasing can provide several benefits to fleets, including reducing breakdowns, driving down maintenance costs and improving their fuel economy, which all impact the bottom line.

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No one wants to experience a roadside breakdown, but machinery can fail, even at the most inopportune time. When motor carriers and drivers find themselves needing emergency breakdown services, speed is critical.

Penske’s 24/7 Roadside Assistance has 12,000+ emergency providers to respond to drivers’ needs day or night. Plus, the call center is staffed by experienced, in-house Penske personnel who have detailed knowledge of trucks and understand the specific problems drivers may be experiencing.

Vehicles are repaired within a short amount of time, and if more lengthy repairs are necessary, Penske provides a rental or substitute vehicle.

Pre- and Post-Trip Inspections Are Essential

The ultimate goal is to prevent a roadside event from occurring in the first place, and drivers play an essential role in reducing over-the-road breakdowns. Thorough pre-and post-trip inspections can ensure trucks are in good working condition before they hit the highway.

Drivers should look for leaks, damage, operable lights, properly secured cargo, sagging equipment and anything else that seems out of place. Common problems drivers may find include damaged lights, cracked windshields, faded placards, and chaffed light cords and hoses. Drivers should also pay particular attention to tire pressure. If drivers have any concerns about tire pressure, they can stop at a Penske location so technicians can inspect their tires.

Additionally, when drivers fuel at a Penske location, the customer service representatives who fuel the truck also walk around the truck and check the vehicle to ensure headlights and taillights are working and mudflaps are in good condition, which can prevent issues on the road.

Timely PMs Help Drive Uptime

Penske focuses on preventive maintenance (PM) to help increase vehicle uptime and strives to have trucks go from one PM event to the next PM event without ever having to come back. Penske Truck Leasing follows a rigorous maintenance schedule for customers that includes using advanced system analytics to identify potential failures before they occur.

With dynamic preventive maintenance, technicians can adjust inspections based on failure rates and a vehicle’s history. Penske Truck Leasing captures and analyzes maintenance and vehicle data throughout its entire fleet, creating a thorough base of knowledge that allows technicians to customize maintenance.

Access Help

If a roadside breakdown occurs, help is just a call or a click away. Drivers and carriers can call 1-800-526-0798 or take advantage of digital fleet tools that offer instant visibility.

With Fleet Insight™, Penske’s secure website for fleet data, and the Fleet Insight™ mobile app, carriers can submit 24/7 roadside assistance requests and view real-time updates. They can track breakdown and repair details, see detailed charges for easy verification, identify and address recurring issues, and predict downtime more accurately.

With the Penske Driver™ app, drivers can submit and get real-time updates on roadside assistance requests and remain updated on the status of service, avoiding future phone calls. They can also use the app to check in for service at Penske locations and find rental, leasing, service, parking and fueling locations.

If drivers experience a roadside event (such as a breakdown or maintenance issue) within 40 miles of a Penske location, they can contact the location directly rather than contacting 24/7 Roadside Assistance— saving a step in the process and speeding up service. Locations are equipped with technicians and roadside assistance vehicles to serve drivers faster.

March 2023

Cargo theft continued to increase in 2022, jumping 20%, with thieves targeting parking lots and warehouses, according to the latest data from CargoNet. Plus, events that involved the theft of at least one heavy commercial vehicle, such as a semi-truck or semi-trailer, increased by 17% year-over-year.

The average value of cargo stolen in an event was $214,104, and CargoNet estimates that $223 million in cargo was stolen across all cargo theft events in 2022.

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Penske’s free app for drivers, Penske Driver™, gives them tools to remain compliant with electronic logging device (ELD) mandates and complete their daily tasks, including submitting fuel receipts, requesting roadside assistance and more.

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There were more than 3 million roadside vehicle inspections in 2022, and the most common violations found were related to tires, brake systems and lights. Many violations are easily avoidable with preventive maintenance (PM), a proactive approach, and pre and post-trip inspections.

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You’re due at your destination in an hour, but traffic has slowed to a crawl. You just got cut off — twice. You’re already feeling worn out. And now rain clouds are gathering overhead. As a truck driver, you face these types of situations all the time. The more prepared you are to handle them, the healthier you’ll be.

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Increased consumer demand is driving growth in cold-chain services that is expected to last for years. Cold chains — supply chains specializing in the packaging, planning, manufacturing, storing, loading and moving of temperature-sensitive products — must perform flawlessly to ensure properly cooled products reach the end user.

The 2023 27th Annual Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Study found that logistics providers invest in cold chains and expand their services to meet customers’ needs. Among study respondents, 82% of shippers and 84% of third-party logistics providers said they expect demand for cold chain capacity to increase over the next three years.

Due to increased demand, roughly 60% of shippers and 3PLs stated they expanded their cold chain capabilities over the past year. Even more — 67% of shippers and 72% of 3PLs — said they plan to continue to expand their cold chain capabilities and capacity over the next three years.

Every link in the temperature-controlled chain must be intact and connected to maintain the required temperature parameters. The Annual 3PL Study reported that technology would be crucial for sustainable agility and resilience within cold chains.

Accurate real-time visibility across the cold chain is vital to ensuring the safety and integrity of temperature-sensitive products. Other important technological advances include automation, IoT and sensors for tracking and monitoring, reusable packaging that reduces waste while improving durability, and blockchain for risk and compliance.

In addition to improving accuracy and efficiency, technology within the cold chain could help extend product shelf life and increase efficiency.

However, the most important step is to have the ability to convert insights into action. Simply having data that a trailer temperature is out of the specified range, a freezer door is open, or a compressor is about to fail isn’t useful unless the data gets to the right person at the right time.

Given the complexity of cold chains, many companies outsource their cold chain needs. The Annual 3PL Study found that 67% of shippers plan to outsource, up from 50% in the 2022 study. The study also found that there appears to be increased collaboration between shippers and their logistics providers.

“Many of our members are having strategic discussions with their customers to ensure their current and future needs are met. Sometimes that means creating long-term agreements and more collaborative structures. As a result, they are more willing to build additional capacity to meet customer needs,” said Lowell Randel, senior vice president at the Global Cold Chain Alliance.

When looking for a reliable, proven cold chain provider, shippers should look for these five key traits: visibility tools, streamlined communication, food safety certification, track and trace capabilities, and an emphasis on efficiency.

You climb in and out of your cab constantly. You may even be required to climb into the trailer or on top of a flatbed to secure the load you are transporting. This is done so often, that you probably don’t think of the risk involved. But move too fast or carelessly, and you could end up out of service with a serious injury.

Trips, slips, and falls cause around 100,000 work-related injuries a year for professional drivers. They also keep workers off the job for an average of 24 days, according to National Safety Council data. Wintertime is an especially dangerous time for falls due to weather hazards like snow, sleet and ice that impact the central and northern regions of the U.S.

You can avoid trips, slips, and falls by following a few basic steps:

1. Use the three points of contact rule. The three points of contact rule will give you the most stability every time you enter and exit your truck, reducing your risk of a slip, trip or fall. Three points means that you should have two hands and one foot — or two feet and one hand — in contact with your truck at all times. When you climb up or down, grab onto fixed items, such as door handles, the door frame, steps or your steering wheel. Don’t rely on tires or wheel hubs to climb out.

2. Don’t climb and carry. Avoid the temptation to hold anything — a coffee cup, smartphone or logbook — in your free hand when you enter and exit the truck. Doing so will prevent you from effectively using the Three Points of Contact Rule. Always place your items into the cab before attempting to enter your truck.

3. Move slowly and deliberately. While jumping out of your cab may save time, you must never do it. Jumping puts extra strain on your back and joints, which can cause you pain and create injuries over the long term. Jumping also puts you at risk for ankle, shoulder and knee injuries that may occur if you fall awkwardly.

4. Look before you leave the cab. Make sure your vehicle’s handles and steps are clear of ice, snow and other hazards. Park in well-lit areas and on level surfaces so you can climb out of your truck safely. Look for objects blocking your path and move them out of the way.

5. Wear proper footwear. Choose non-slip footwear. Waterproof work boots with textured treads are always a good option.

6. Pay attention. Focus on climbing up and down the stairs only. Don’t look at your phone or other objects. Avoid distractions.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added an Elite level category for 53-foot dry van or refrigerated trailers to its SmartWay program, which the agency said will result in greater fuel savings and fewer emissions than the original category.

Elite products save at least 10% in fuel over base vehicles. That includes one percent for low-rolling-resistance tires and 9% for SmartWay-verified aerodynamic devices. Fleet operators will need to use two or more devices, such as nose treatments, side skirts and tail devices, to reach the figure. The EPA said a typical tractor using a SmartWay Elite trailer could save about 1,700 gallons of diesel fuel annually.

SmartWay Trailers result in fuel savings of 6% or greater and use one or more SmartWay-verified aerodynamic devices totaling at least 5% fuel savings. The EPA said SmartWay Trailers result in fuel savings of about 1,000 gallons annually.

Fleet Operators Turn to CNG for Even Greater Fuel Savings

To achieve even greater fuel savings, some fleet operators are utilizing natural gas engines. Penske Truck Leasing has compressed natural gas Freightliner Cascadia tractors available in select markets. Fleet operators can learn more about CNG vehicles in this six-minute video.

Summary of EPA-designated SmartWay Trailer Configurations

SmartWay TrailersSmartWay Elite Trailers
Trailer Types53-foot box trailers (either dry vans or refrigerated trailers) used for long haul operations53-foot box trailers (either dry vans or refrigerated trailers) used for long haul operations
Aerodynamic DevicesOne or more SmartWay-verified aerodynamic devices totaling at least 5% fuel savingsCombination of two or more SmartWay-verified aerodynamic devices totaling at least 9% fuel savings
Low-rolling-resistance TiresSmartWay-verified low-rolling resistance tires totaling at least 1% fuel savingsSmartWay-verified low-rolling resistance tires totaling at least 1% fuel savings
Total Fuel Savings6% or greater10% or greater
Per Trailer Annual Fuel SavingsApproximately 1,000 gallons of diesel per yearApproximately 1,700 gallons of diesel per year

Penske Shows its Support of U.S. EPA SmartWay Program

Penske Truck Leasing has been a SmartWay affiliate partner since 2008. For five straight years, from 2013 through 2017, Penske Truck Leasing was named a winner of the EPA's SmartWay Affiliate Challenge Award.

The SmartWay Affiliate Challenge is a national challenge developed by the EPA to acknowledge organizations that participate in SmartWay and that do an exceptional job in supporting the partnership's freight sustainability goals.

To promote the SmartWay Transport Partnership, Penske:

  • Assisted customers with modeling and completion of the program's tools and helped them establish fuel economy and emissions benchmarking that correlate with SmartWay Carrier Performance Rankings
  • Conducted ongoing education and introduction of customers to join SmartWay
  • Hosted educational events for customers via webinars, one-on-one education and strategy sessions
  • Attended and presented at sustainability conferences, college symposiums and other transportation industry events

In the logistics category, Penske Logistics ranks in the top 40 percent among other logistics SmartWay Partners in CO2, NOx and Particulate Matter emissions on a grams/mile basis. More than 75% of the freight Penske Logistics manages is transported using a SmartWay partner, ensuring our customers that they are partnering with companies committed to efficiency and continuous improvement.

April 2015 / Updated May 2018