Fleet Speak: Safety & Fleet Working in Tandem

Friday, June 16, 2017
Heavy-duty locking devices

New heavy-duty locking devices for cargo trailers help eliminate potential equipment theft (new lock pictured on right side, old lock on left side). Rear door cables are replaced with lower door hinge springs to reduce potential finger, hand and back injuries.

By Reid Altavilla, Corporate Fleet Manager

Reid Altavilla

Our fleet and safety teams are a partnership. We need to have our eyes on both things in order to keep our vehicles and equipment in the best working order and our people safe. This synchronicity is no accident (pun intended). Both teams work together regularly to ensure that all production vehicles are Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant, all equipment is operating at the highest level of quality every time they leave the yard and that all employees understand how to safely operate both vehicles and equipment.

Here are a few tasks that are performed daily, weekly, monthly or yearly to ensure the highest possible safety standards for our fleet and equipment:


  • Performing annual DOT inspections as well as surprise A.M. gate inspections as vehicles leave the yard, filling out DOT Annual Preventative Maintenance forms and filing them in the truck and vehicle maintenance file
  • Inspecting daily pre-trip forms to make sure that all individuals are performing a proper pre-trip inspection (the previous three months of the form are saved for each vehicle)
  • Installing and repairing DriveCams in all production vehicles as needed
  • Making sure that all vehicles are properly loaded (not overloaded or loaded incorrectly) to ensure that our vehicles and crew, as well as the public, are as safe as possible
  • Performing regularly scheduled repairs with the highest quality in all of our shops to safeguard the operation of our fleet and uphold our image
  • Inspecting the housekeeping of vehicles to maintain a safe environment:
  • ○ No papers or trash on the dash; floors clean and free of debris
    ○ Equipment properly secured

  • Continuously improving our fleet design to decrease potential injuries, maximize efficiency, and minimize theft of our equipment.

Ladder and Grab Handles

Pictured right: New grab handle and steel ladder (instead of aluminum) on the rear of trucks help individuals safely climb in and out of the truck bed.


  • Working with crews during pad maintenance (preventative maintenance for mowing and two-cycle equipment) to ensure that all equipment is performing properly:
  • ○ Inspecting and repairing all safety guards and Operator Present Controls (OPC) on equipment
    ○ Inspecting and repairing all seat belts and Rollover Protection (ROP) on riding mowers
    ○ Providing tips for proper operation with the end-user and discussing abuse when necessary
    ○ Helping the manufacturer produce a safer product through redesign or labeling. (For example, the new Exmark Standon safety decal to indicate a pinch point.)

  • Participating in operator training to help company personnel understand how to maintain and operate equipment in a safe manner

Our fleet department understands its role in helping to keep our vehicles and equipment in safe operating order. Safety is a partnership and everyone at Ruppert plays a critical role in ensuring safety is top of mind. Please help us continue to improve by following the “see something, say something” motto when it comes to protecting you and your co-workers and getting them home safely every day.

Fleet Speak: Pad Maintenance

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Air intake before and after cleaning

Air intake screens (before and after pictured above) are to be kept free and clear of debris at all times. During pad maintenance, we make sure they are inspected and thoroughly cleaned using a broom or air blowgun.                          

By Greg Franklin, Director of Fleet and Facilities

Our shop teams support the branches in many capacities.  At the core, our goal is to train, maintain and repair. One of the key things that we train field operators on is pad maintenance for mowing and two-cycle equipment (aptly named after the concrete pad adjoining the shop facility where small equipment maintenance is performed). Standard pad maintenance consists of sharpening blades, greasing, pressure washing, removing debris buildup under the deck, and checking all safety devices.

Pad maintenance is completed twice a week during mowing season (typically March through September) by each crew’s field manager and one or two trained crewmen. The second weekly visit adds cleaning air filters, checking tire pressure, and changing the oil/filter to the checklist. Maintenance can be scheduled for either the end of the day or before leaving the yard in the morning, a choice that varies by branch. Once completed, the field manager should check off on the pad maintenance schedule in the shop that all functions were completed.

Performing quality bi-weekly pad maintenance has many benefits for operators:

  • Ensuring that all safety devices are working properly decreases the likelihood of an accident happening while on the job
  • Sharpening blades twice a week increases production by enabling a mower to move faster while maintaining a quality cut. Sharp blades are also better for the turf, cutting the blades of grass instead of ripping them as dull blades do
  • Well-maintained equipment will minimize the frequency and cost of major repairs and increase the life of the equipment, which equates to greater branch profit
  • Training field managers and crew personnel on pad maintenance helps ensure that all equipment is being operated correctly and safely

Shop personnel are available to help train field operators on how to properly maintain the equipment and what to look for to minimize failures and can advise on how to properly perform small repairs (loose bolts, broken belts, bent blades, etc.) on a piece of equipment while in the field to minimize downtime. If you have a question about repair or need training or a refresher course on pad maintenance, please contact your branch’s shop manager. We are here to help!

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