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Replace and Save: Why rebuilding wheel hubs is costing fleets money

Commercial vehicle fleets are constantly adapting to fluctuating market conditions, increasing customer expectations, and supply chain volatility, among a multitude of other factors. As fleets are working to strike the right balance between the needs of their customers and good business decisions, they tend to focus on a critical metric: total cost of ownership, or TCO.

Though TCO does start with acquisition cost, minimizing TCO isn’t just about getting the best deal on a new vehicle. It’s about optimizing the value of the vehicle throughout its lifecycle. With so many trends and technologies available that help increase uptime and improve safety, fleets should avoid making purchase decisions on price alone. Instead, a fleet should seek out a vehicle that has reliable components and is the right fit for their application. This decision will have implications on TCO down the road when considering operational costs and vehicle uptime.

Operational cost includes everything it takes to run and maintain the vehicle – the driver, insurance, fuel, preventative maintenance, repairs, product support, and more. With today’s strained supply chains causing a lack of new vehicle inventory, fleets are keeping trucks and trailers on the road longer, and operational costs are on the rise. One of the most effective ways to minimize those costs is to implement a comprehensive, proactive maintenance strategy.

Optimizing maintenance procedures

The goal of an optimized maintenance strategy is to maximize utilization of vehicles on the road to meet customer demand while sustaining cost efficiency. Preventative maintenance helps fleets improve uptime and safety while avoiding unplanned costs such as repairs, violation fines, or tow bills. Scheduling maintenance so that the work is staggered helps technicians avoid burnout and the shop avoid bottle necks in the event that an unplanned repair is needed. Additionally, scheduling helps shops keep plenty of the right parts on hand, so replacements are available without the need to place an order and wait for a part to be delivered. Finally, drivers should be trained to perform pre-trip inspections to identify and correct issues or abnormalities before hitting the road. This helps avoid roadside events, which impose a safety risk and can result in a much higher total cost of ownership.

Replace and save

As one of the most critical safety items on a vehicle, the wheel hub is a major element of vehicle maintenance. It requires proper technician training, frequent inspection, and regular service. All of the components in the wheel end need to be in acceptable working condition and properly lubricated. When it comes to wheel ends, there is very little margin for error.

During routine inspections, anything found to be out of acceptable tolerance needs to be addressed. Traditionally, technicians would rebuild the hub by manually replacing and adjusting hub components, which can take up to three hours per hub. When the time and the cost of components are multiplied by each hub on a truck and trailer, plus the size of the fleet, costs add up quickly.

ConMet Aftermarket PreSet hubs provide an alternative to rebuilding wheel ends. The pre-assembled, pre-adjusted hub saves time, reduces service complexity from eight steps to three, and ultimately decreases cost. ConMet’s complete hub assembly includes a precision bearing spacer that sets the bearings at the correct end play at the factory, leaving little opportunity for error in the installation process. Technicians simply slide the self-piloting hub onto the spindle, torque the spindle nut to the correct specification, and install the locking ring. With best-in-class torque retention, it’s designed to maintain clamp load and maximize bearing life. The ease of installing PreSet hubs also means less wear and tear on expensive specialty tools, and the installation can be done in about one-third of the time it takes to rebuild the hub.

Another benefit of the PreSet hub is peace of mind, thanks to a 5-year/500,000-mile warranty. Moreover, installing all new parts every time reduces failure risk associated with used parts. This also helps save on time and resources by eliminating the need to procure, track, receive, and warehouse individual components. Keeping PreSet hubs in stock requires less square footage for individual storage of bearings, seals, spacers, studs, ABS tone rings, and spindle nuts.

When it comes to total cost of ownership, everything adds up. A focus on optimized maintenance paired with the highest quality components helps fleets provide the best service for their customers while improving their bottom line.

VANCOUVER, WA | by Brian Rieger, Vice President of North American Sales