Every transport manager worth his or her salt understands how important it is to calculate the profitability of each vehicle. These calculations need to be very precise, so they know if they have made a profit or loss based on both the payload and the amount of time taken to drive from point to point. Of course, these individuals will need a lot of information to come up with a calculation like this and must make sure that they configure the vehicle as efficiently as possible. Why do they need to pay particular attention to the wheel alignment of the truck?
When people fit new tyres to their family car, they will make sure that the technician has correctly aligned the front tyres. This will help to ensure that the vehicle travels correctly when it is driving down the road, taking into account the forces of gravity and the underlying surface. Typically, they will leave the rear wheels alone, and they'll generally follow in the same track.
However, the situation is far more complicated when it comes to a large truck. In this case, all the other axles must be correctly aligned as well as otherwise, big problems can result.
Aligning the Drive Axle
The driving axle is a particular cause of concern. If this is not correctly adjusted, then the axle may not be perpendicular or parallel to the centreline. As the vehicle drives down the road, it may tend to push or pull away from that centreline, or create an unwanted 'scrub' angle. Either way, the driver will need to make alterations to the steering to either compensate for that push or resist the scrub. Little wonder that they will complain about the handling and feel far more tired than they should at the end of their shift.
If this axle is pulling, pushing or scrubbing, the tyres will wear down far more quickly. The vehicle will encounter more resistance from the road surface as well, and this will inevitably affect its fuel consumption. Don't be surprised if some of the component suspension parts wear out more quickly as well, and may need to be replaced before their time.
Loss of Profitability
It stands to reason, therefore, that if the vehicle is using more fuel than it should, wearing down tyres before their time and chewing through suspension parts, it is not going to be as efficient as it could be. This will definitely skew those profitability numbers and put the organisation at a considerable disadvantage.
If you are responsible for operating a fleet of trucks, then you must pay particular and regular attention to truck wheel alignment. If you do, you will stand the best chance of returning to profitability.