A professional office
The 3M Company runs a fleet of 378 Peterbilt quad-axle dump trucks in Wausau, WI, to haul roofing grindings from a quarry to a coloring plant six miles away on the other side of town. These trucks run 24 hours a day, six days a week.
The trucks feature Peterbilt’s Prestige interior, which is very high end for the vocational market. They also have power windows, power locks, CD players, heated mirrors, sound packages, additional light packages, engine brakes and automatic transmissions.
“We went with a beige color to try to make them look nice because of the dust we have out there all of the time,” says Taylor Austin, general supervisor of the quarry, 3M Company. “We are seriously talking about painting the boxes to match because drivers take such pride in what they have.”
Austin explains the importance of spec’ing the premium features into the dump truck fleet. “I sit in an office all day long,” he says. “I have a phone, a nice chair and a great computer. I am very comfortable and we expect the same thing for our drivers.
They have to sit in that truck for an eight-hour shift. Twelve hours is not uncommon. We want them to be comfortable. We want them to be able to say that they have their own office.”
Automatic transmissions are one option that make life easier for the drivers. “In a typical day, drivers were pushing on a clutch 200 times a day,” says Austin. “Now they don’t have to push on it at all. In addition, 3M has seen an increase in fuel economy.
“The computers do the thinking for the drivers.” The transmissions also have better acceleration.
Admittedly, other companies may not be willing to spend the extra money on such premium features. “It just comes down to dollars and cents,” says Austin. “It really shouldn’t because your driver should come first. He is your point person. He is the one making you money.
“Our drivers are No. 1 and we want them to be comfortable, not beat up and abused,” Austin adds. “We want to make sure that we have maximized everything that we can for comfort. A happy driver is a happy employee.” The results speak for themselves. “We have 33 drivers and 80% are over 25 years [of employment]. We have next to no turnover. Basically, the only turnover we have is through retirement.”