“Where possible, we try to give our customers hands-on experience with newer technology,” Penske’s Lager said. Take telematics data, for example. Penske works with fleets to identify and secure the suite of telematics and onboard diagnostics from telematics service providers, such as PeopleSoft, Xata and Insight, just to name a few. Penske matches customers with the providers that are best suited to meet their specific needs, with additional assistance with financing, installation, implementation, and maintenance. Additionally, Penske delivers data to its customers online, electronically and in hardcopy, depending on the type of data and how the customer wishes to view it. Online data is accessed through a secure website where customers can log on for preventive maintenance scheduling, repair notifications and approvals, invoices, real-time roadside assistance tracking and other aspects of fleet operations.
Leveraging data to make equipment-based decisions was a common theme among all leasing companies Fleet Equipment polled. NationaLease recently partnered with Decisiv Inc., a provider of service relationship management software. Decisiv’s cloud-based platform provides an information hub and collects vehicle and event data from various maintenance points, which could be a repair shop, a service vendor, an OEM or a full service leasing shop.
NationaLease has deployed a branded telematics tool called NationaLease Fleet 20/20, that provides its customers with equipment information. A fleet manager in a central location you can look across the network and see which vehicles may be out of service. He or she can monitor the repair so that it is made efficiently and the truck is back on the road as quickly as possible.
“As important as the ability to collect data is the ability to aggregate service data and costs over a period of time, to enable our customers to use analytics to make better decisions on equipment purchases or equipment replacement cycles,” Gallick said. “NationaLease Fleet 20/20 captures, communicates, manages and measures every service event in real time, enabling the coordination of multiple service providers while providing lower total cost of ownership and improved asset performance. Standard and custom designed dashboards, depicting metrics like PM currency and unscheduled repairs, are insightful tools for service managers and customer fleet managers alike. The visual images can be hovered upon and drilled down, for instance, to reveal potential root causes for repeat component failures and resulting higher costs.”
Ryder offers an onboard system called RydeSmart. It includes a variety of options from vehicle monitoring, tracking, communication, electronic logs, and electronic fuel tax reporting. There is no upfront expense, but merely a monthly service charge depending on the services selected. PacLease offers its proprietary PacTrac system, which was created by PeopleNet.
3. A helping maintenance hand
Maintaining maximum uptime is a significant challenge unto itself. Leasing companies can provide a helping hand to a fleet whose maintenance capabilities aren’t as robust as they need to be, especially since the leasing company also has skin in the uptime game.
“The leasing commitment from the lessor to the lessee is based on a fixed amount of revenue per period and variable charges based on the use of the vehicle so all the services are covered in a full service lease,” NationaLease’s Gallick explained. “It is in the best interest of a full-service leasing company to return the vehicle to the customer as quickly as possible, which is what the customer wants, so there is a congruency there.”
A full service lease follows its trucks through the entire service process—from preventative maintenance (PM) and roadside assistance to providing substitute trucks if there’s an out-of-service or unscheduled maintenance issue.
“Our processes are geared towards a preventative maintenance approach,” PacLease’s Walden said. “In other words, we only want to see the truck in the shop for a PM. Now, we understand it doesn’t always work that way, but we strive to complete all the necessary follow-up items on the PM and proactively maintain every facet of the truck including aftertreatment maintenance. If we can target specific potential failures during a PM, we can help ensure better uptime for our customers.”
A leasing company may also be able to consolidate your vehicle maintenance if you operate a mixed fleet. Penske, for example, is authorized to perform most warranty repairs in-house under a lease agreement.
If there is a service incident on the road, roadside assistance is available from many leasing companies to help get your truck back on the road. NationaLease’s Gallick reported that the industry average downtime for an unplanned road failure is two hours for common issues such as a flat tire or other minor service issues. (Of course, there are plenty of instances that demonstrate a longer or shorter service interval).
“If you look at the service event, one of the things to consider is the amount of time it takes the driver to effectively communicate the problem,” he said. “The time the driver waits on hold, the time of the year, the urgency of the delivery, the weather conditions all play a role. You have to measure things like response time, repair time and communication back to the customer. Road service is absolutely a key feature of any full-service leasing program.”
Walden explained that PacLease approaches an unplanned, on-road service situation starting with the nature of the driver’s complaint and what the repair will require.
“If it is a simple mechanical failure that can be repaired road side, then we process that immediately,” he explained. “Since the advent of aftertreatment systems, the driver has the ability to drive the truck to a shutdown condition. In that case, it may require towing and a triage that is normally performed within two hours of arrival at our repair facilities. This information gives us an indication of the time it will take to repair. If this does not fit our customer’s schedule, we will proceed to repower the load.”
If worse comes to worse and your truck is expected to experience an extended out-of-service situation, most full service leasing agreements include substitute vehicles to get your load back on its route schedule. “For example, if a private fleet operates 20 trucks and there are two vehicles that are out of service, the customer has to rent two additional trucks,” Gallick said. “In a full service leasing package, that is considered part of the agreement; so if a vehicle is out of service for unscheduled maintenance, the leasing company is obligated to provide a suitable replacement. At the end of the day, the costs of late or missed deliveries to a fleet operator are often overlooked when weighing the total cost of fleet ownership.”