Non-CDL jobsite trucks are a solution to changing jobsite dynamics
In your mind, picture a traditional lube/jobsite fuel truck — the kind that’s been common for fuel and oil delivery around the U.S. for decades. You may see a large tractor-style truck with a bed dominated by a fuel tank around 1,000 gallons in size, likely rolling on a Class 7- or Class 8-sized chassis and driven by someone with the required commercial driver’s license (CDL).
That’s long been the norm for lube and jobsite fuel trucks servicing machinery around the country. Yet, a combination of factors has many contractors and operators looking to smaller trucks that don’t require a CDL — those in Class 5 and Class 6 — to help them care for equipment on the job. In the process, they’re discovering the cost and efficiency benefits to deploying the class of trucks that weren’t frequently seen on jobsites just a few years ago.
Changing industry dynamics
Commercial lube and jobsite fuel trucks typically range in size from Class 5 to Class 8. Each class covers vehicles with a specific gross weight range starting at 16,001 pounds. A CDL is required to operate a commercial vehicle above 26,000 pounds in weight, making it a necessity to lawfully operate a Class 7 or Class 8 commercial truck. However, Class 5 and Class 6 vehicles in the non-CDL class do not carry the same restrictions.
But despite growing demand for all types of commercial transportation that requires a CDL — namely over-the-road trucking — the number of licensed commercial drivers in the U.S. has not increased. Despite that demand boost, a similar increase hasn’t happened in licensed commercial drivers. In short, for work requiring a CDL, the demand is growing but the qualified labor pool is not.
“There’s just a shortage of qualified, skilled drivers. It’s as simple as that,” said Sage Oil Vac CEO Aaron Sage.
The CDL shortage is just part of the equation making non-CDL lube trucks the solution for many contractors. Traditional Class 7 or Class 8 trucks are large and have high fluid capacities, enabling them to service a lot of equipment. However, due to their size they’re also less fuel efficient when traveling long distances and can be difficult to maneuver on jobsites with uneven terrain and a lot of equipment to service. Add regulatory pressure — which becomes an even bigger issue when traveling across state lines — and operating these larger trucks suddenly can become more than a greater expense and inconvenience. They can be a hindrance to a company’s future growth.
“If you’re working at a remote location that has a lot of challenging terrain, a smaller jobsite fuel truck is going to be more nimble and will perform better in terrain like that than a larger, tandem-axle truck,” Sage said, adding non-CDL Sage Oil Vac lube trucks are built on Ford and Dodge Ram Class 5 and 6 truck chassis, enabling them to better navigate more varied jobsite terrain than heavier dual-axle tractor-based trucks. Plus, it allows the owner to choose which brand best fits their style.
Filling a growing niche
Things like the decline in CDL-certified drivers and the efficiency of smaller trucks have made non-CDL machines a more viable option than in the past for many contractors, for both operational and managerial reasons. On top of the benefits of the smaller trucks, non-CDL trucks enable mobile equipment service providers to do their job without requiring operators to have commercial driver’s licenses. This opens the door to more hiring opportunities for company owners and managers, and more employment opportunities for operators. In this way, Sage Oil Vac non-CDL lube trucks are helping fill a growing niche in the service truck sector.
“We are always honing the design of non-CDL lube truck bodies and putting them with trucks that don’t require a CDL to operate. Many in the industry are talking about moving to smaller jobsite fuel trucks for many reasons. We are working hard to add value to their operations by offering equipment that can make them more efficient,” Sage said. “We want our customers to look at their equipment and determine which system will work best for them. In some cases, multiple non-CDL trucks will be more cost-effective and efficient than one Class 8 truck. It’s sometimes hard to get people to make a change like that, but I think when you put pencil to paper, these types of changes will pay for themselves in a matter of months.”