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SHUTTLE VEHICLES:


Things to Consid A


BY SHELDONWALLE


S WITH ANY major purchase, today more than ever companies must do all they


can to maximize their dollars. Likewise, however,


it’s also


important to remember that the lowest price is not always the low- est cost alternative.


Such is the casewhen considering a


shuttle van or bus. Unlike “over-the-road” applica-


tions, where vehicles are operating at a more consistent and constant level, a shuttle operation is subject to a much higher duty cycle of several critical components. The following are some examples of where spending a little more on the front end can save significant dollars on the back end. Electrical charging system –When a vehicle is subjected


to low engine speed and a lot of engine idle time, the alternator can be really taxed trying to keep the battery properly charged. Therefore, a higher output alternator should be considered.When vehicle specifications are created, an amperage load requirement should be calculated to determine what size alternator is needed. Important considerations for doing the calculation would be size of HVAC system, wheelchair lift if applicable, lighted signs, radio communication components and typical operating climate, to name a few.Also, the charging system output should be noted “at idle” to more accurately reflect the real-world application of the vehicle.


Engine hour meter – Over the course of its life, a shuttle


vehiclemay not travel asmanymiles as an over-the-road vehicle. However, it can easily and more rapidly exceed hours of opera- tion.Therefore, it’s critical tomeasure service intervals and com- ponent life in terms of time and not mileage. Installing an hour meter is a relatively inexpensive but effective way to help keep a shuttle bus in proper working order. Brake retarders – Granted, brake retarders are a relatively


high cost component. However, depending on the severity of the shuttle application, it can provide a significant reduction in brake repair and replacement cost.Keep inmind aswell that it’s not just the component cost; it’s also about keeping the vehicle in service longer through reduced downtime for repair. Perhaps even more important, it can mean a greater margin of safety when emer- gency braking is required.


After-market rear sus-


pension systems – If your application often requires you to operate near or at full pay- load, you may want to consider some type of after-market rear suspension system. Essentially, there are two types: air and rub- ber. In brief, air generally will cost more than the rubber type and requires a pump, lines, valves, fittings, etc. However, air may offer a zlittle more sta- bility and softness than rubber. In some instances, both can extend brake and tire wear. If it’s something you want to con- sider, it is recommended that you test-drive vehicles with and without the system to deter- mine if it’s something you feel adds value.


18 APRIL 2010 • PARKING TODAY • www.parkingtoday.com


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