In its never-ending quest for the safest possible fleet of vehicles (and drivers!), the City of Edmonton’s Fleet Services Branch has set a new standard of quality in wheel safety with what’s called the “Re-torque” program.
(For the non-mechanical, re-torquing means retightening wheel lug nuts after installation to ensure that they have remained tight.)
The program applies to the vast majority of City, EPCOR, and Emergency Services vehicles. It goes far beyond the standard of simply placing re-torque reminder stickers on a windshield.
“We are very, very serious about making sure that 300-pound wheels aren’t in danger of flying off vehicles, so we covered all the bases,” says Bill Wilson, a Fleet Services project engineer.
The City program requires that equipment technicians record the removal and re-installation of any wheels. When recorded in Fleet Services’ M5 maintenance management software program, the system automatically creates a reportable retorque task. This task is then added to a daily report that informs clients which of their vehicles are due for a re-torque.
Wheel re-torques appear on that report two days or 150 kilometers following wheel removal and reinstallation. Drivers can simply drive up to Express Service bays at any City-operated garage and have the work performed in minutes.
“If the client doesn’t follow up, the unit is maintained on the daily re-torque report to clients, and after a week we escalate the notices with specific reminder emails,” says Scott Reid, supervisor of fleet maintenance planning.
The program also includes the installation of wheel-nut position indicators on all vehicles weighing more than 4,000 kilograms, and on trailers. If a wheel nut begins loosening, the indicator (which looks like a neon arrow) exaggerates the movement, making it easy to spot during daily vehicle walk-around inspections.
Advanced cleaning and mounting procedures for technicians ensures that surfaces are clean, and that oil is correctly applied to certain kinds of wheel nuts.
Maintenance planners even researched and found a new kind of windshield sticker that clung to the window better than past stickers, reducing the chances they’d be lost. A barcode on the sticker will facilitate easier future tracking of re-torques.
When the program launched in July, 2012, a full communications campaign was aimed at both internal partners and external clients, telling them of the new policies and procedures, and impressing them on the importance of more detailed pre-trip inspections.
The program has already made loose wheel incidents very rare indeed.
“We’re very thankful for increased awareness on the part of operators, technicians and supervisors, and for their focus on maintaining the highest possible level of wheel safety in our fleet.,” he says.