By Jeff Eriks, Cambridge Companies
May 4, 2021
Factors such as layout, sizing, equipment and amenities can make significant impacts on a facility’s operational efficiency.
There are many decisions that go into designing a truck maintenance facility, but some key points can most impact the overall design and programming of the space. These factors include the layout, sizing, equipment and amenities of the facility, and do not pertain as much to the aesthetics and other criteria. This is because it is important to make sure the facility is designed to get trucks in and out of the facility in a safe, efficient manner. Operationally efficient facilities make your whole company run smoother.
Point 1: Types of trucks
The starting point of designing a truck maintenance facility is to identify the types of trucks you are working on.
The type of truck matters because you need to completely understand what type of maintenance you will be doing in the facility. Identifying the types of trucks will determine the length of the bays needed, as well as the clear width between walls and other obstructions like storage racks, and supplemental equipment like truck lifts, large tools or toolboxes.
Typically, a maintenance facility will encounter several different types of trucks, including rear loaders, front loaders, side loaders, automated trucks, roll-off trucks, semi-tractors or transfer trailers. All of these have different maintenance requirements, different clearances and different equipment needed based on what you will do in the shop.
Taking the time to identify the quantity and type of trucks that will enter a facility can ensure the design team fully understands the use of the shop. This can help avoid issues like mechanics not having enough clearance around or above the truck to perform necessary maintenance.
Once the vehicle types being serviced by the facility have been determined, operators should consider whether the shop is going to incorporate a wash bay or work areas for container repair. These aspects can necessitate a whole separate list of questions that would need to be discussed in more detail.
Point 2: Types of maintenance and repair
Next, you will want to identify the type of maintenance the facility will be performing, such as preventive maintenance (PM), body work, heavy engine repairs or swap outs, cab replacements, etc.
Different levels of maintenance will mean the quantity of bays will change, the types of bays will change, and the types and amounts of equipment required to do the work will be drastically different. A typical PM bay will require an area for fluids changing, tires, brakes and other minor work that keeps the truck safely operating daily. This work would require the standard tools, fluids distribution throughout the shop, truck lifts or a PM pit that has dedicated bays, and other PM-related items.
If you start to get into heavy body work, complete engine repair or replacement, this will likely lead to much heavier equipment being needed, such as an overhead crane, welder plugs spread throughout the shop, different lighting requirements and additional bay space for “project trucks” to be kept inside for extended periods of time.
Many times, these trucks are parked inside the shop for days or a few weeks as mechanics work on them between their standard daily duties, so these bays would be dedicated for trucks like this. In addition, you will need to dedicate space for the sheet metal and fabrication equipment needed for the heavy repair work.