The Connection Between a Semi-Truck and Trailer is Stressed

How Connection Management Saves Fleets Money

“In 30-years of trucking I have never had one repair make such a difference!” exclaimed the president of a trucking fleet in North Carolina. What is this one repair that made such a difference?

They had a kingpin repaired.

It transformed the driving experience, removing slop, banging, and slack when turning but more importantly it prevents damage from being done to the fifth wheel and improves safety.

Understandably the engine, diesel emissions system, transmission, and driveline, dominate the maintenance schedule on commercial trucks, and air systems, electrical systems, tires, and brakes are top of mind on both commercial trucks and trailers.

Yet connection management is consistently overlooked despite being a large repair cost for most fleets. 

Staying Ahead of Kingpin Wear

The more damaged a kingpin becomes the more damage it does to the rest of the fleet, and this accelerates the need for costly repairs driving up the total cost of operation for the fleet. The solution starts with regular inspections and performing repairs efficiently.  

At a minimum, an annual inspection of the kingpin and fifth wheel is needed to ensure that the connection components continue to operate properly. Identifying abnormal wear and damaged components early is essential to address individual situations before they become fleetwide problems.

Avoiding Downtime

Most transportation companies operate on a 24\7 cycle. To be successful and maintain this high-paced environment, scheduled maintenance processes and procedures need to be put in place to keep the fleet in motion. 

Low impact fleet evaluations are essential in this environment. Our technicians can collect the wear data for an entire fleet within a couple of days as equipment cycles through the facility. By evaluating this data, we can identify wear trends throughout the fleet and create custom maintenance plans that address the wear patterns and are scaled to meet the needs of the fleet based on their operational footprint.

When trailers are identified with wear issues, they can be scheduled for repair without disrupting daily operations. Working with fleets to schedule the repairs on low volume days and weekends is important to reduce downtime. Once onsite, Kingpin Specialists can perform same-day repairs on multiple units. This allows the equipment to be repaired proactively without impacting business needs and prevents a trailer from being taken out of service because it fails inspection.      

Reducing the Variance   

To be clear, all fleets have wear. The connection between the tractor and trailer is stressed in numerous ways. Several factors that increase wear are the road conditions, types of loads, delivery logistics, and the number of connections and disconnections in a day.  Many of these factors cannot be adjusted as they are aspects of the daily operational workload.

A factor that can be controlled is the condition of the connection components. When you have two components working together, they will inevitably have wear. The more one component varies from its operational specification due to wear and damage, the more it will impact the other component during use.

Fleets with multiple types of equipment and different wear patterns from age and type of equipment create an atmosphere for excessive wear. For example, if you take an older trailer with a worn-out kingpin and connect it with a brand new fifth wheel, that new fifth wheel will wear excessively as it tries to conform to the out-of-spec component.

All connection components will experience a higher-than-average wear rate until the contact surfaces become similar. By reducing this variance in the fleet connection components, the wear rate is stabilized and the life of the components is extended which creates an ideal operational function.     

Keeping the overall variances in a fleet to a minimum is the key in connection management.  By maintaining properly functioning equipment with low variances, wear rates stabilize and can be managed, and this saves the fleet money.

Kingpin Specialists has an engineered solution that is performed by certified welders. If you are responsible for fleet maintenance on commercial vehicles, why not take the first step and have Kingpin Specialists perform an inspection and report on the condition of your fleet? Call us at 1-888-221-7774 or email us at

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