“Normally, I am not a predictive maintenance guy, but these days I believe it can be a key factor especially in regards to maintenance of aftertreatment and emission systems,” begins Darry Stuart, president and chief executive officer of DWS Fleet Management Services. “As for preventive maintenance, I contend that ‘prevention’ is only from PM to PM. For example, tires and brakes: If it appears they cannot make it to the next PM, then they need to be replaced because. There should not be an interruption of operation for repairs between PMs.
“Don’t deceive yourself into thinking you can get a few more miles on the brakes or tires. That doesn’t work. I always remind fleet managers that we are not in the maintenance business, we are in the asset management business, which comes down to all trucks on the road all day, every day.”
Stuart adds that scheduling is a function of need. “You need to take into consideration driver schedules for delivery, customer service and hours of service, which can be more important than the shop setting up appointments,” he says. “Planned maintenance is not how fast you get vehicles in and out of the shop, but how good the PM is at keeping them out of the shop.
“Today’s sophisticated software provides information about the PM schedules and/or required work,” he continues, “but shops also need to be prepared to service vehicles when they around and when the driver shows up by conscience. The better the PM the better the repairs will take the burden off of both the drive and shop. While there are many great outside suppliers to handle unscheduled maintenance, it is important to remember they are only as good as you manage them and directly incorporate them into your own PM program.”
Don’t wait for failures
According to Kirk Altrichter, vice president of fleet services with the Kenan Advantage Group, the key to preventive maintenance is anticipating what might fail and replacing it before it does. He points out that today’s maintenance management software provides the data need for analysis, but adds that “this isn’t a crystal ball—it is an analytical look at the statistics over time and making decisions based on your interpretation of the information provided.
“We follow the OEM and supplier recommendations for service intervals maintenance, such as oil, coolant and filter changes,” Altrichter continues. “While we have 140 shops to handle maintenance in the U.S and Canada, we still need service on the road from time to time to resolve unexpected maintenance issues like a blown tire. Kenan Advantage Group is a transporter and logistics provider, delivering fuel, chemicals, industrial gases, and food-grade products.”
Stop the breakdowns
When asked what the key advantages of predictive and/or preventive maintenance are, Dan Vander Pol, director of maintenance at Oak Harbor Freight Lines Inc., replies, “Stopping breakdowns on the road is obviously the number one advantage. It also increases the longevity of components that need to get greased or cleaned.
“All the maintenance scheduling at our shops revolves around the PM schedule,” he says. “When we bring a vehicle in for a PM, then we have an A service of the basics, a B service and so on, so we can service all components in a timely manner. This is constantly changing as we get more experience with new components like all the emissions stuff.
“Our shop managers communicate very well with each other if there is a premature failure everyone is informed,” he continues. “We have monthly conference calls with different OEMs to keep us, and them, in the loop regarding problems we have seen, and then we find the best ways to prevent problems. In addition, we usually do use outside vendors for road calls. We have an extensive list in our system of people that we have accounts with in different areas. We have shop managers that choose which vendors are our preferred vendors in an area. If at all possible, we try to get trucks to our shops or to a dealer if there is a problem. Trying to fix a truck on the side of the road is very rarely successful.”
“The key advantages of predictive and/or preventive maintenance is when you can predict a part or item to fail so you replace it before it fails using an average failure report,” says Peter Nativo, director of maintenance for Oakley Transport. “We do predictive maintenance on several items one is our brake chambers on the trailers. We replace them every six years along with the airlines to prevent failures and avoid DOT write-ups for chaffing lines or air leaks.
“The advantage is to keep the wheels turning without breakdown and avoid raising your CSA scores with the DOT for chaffing or airlines leaking during a roadside inspection,” Nativo says. “Preventive maintenance also helps to keep the wheels turning and maintains your vehicle to manufactures recommended specifications for warranty and safe driving.”
As for scheduling work, Nativo says that “drivers complete vehicle condition reports [VCR] and turn them in to our service writer so the repairs can be completed. Our shop manager schedules the work to be completed with our technicians.”
One of the best ways for Oakley Transport to keep everyone informed regarding scheduling and repairs is through its maintenance system Innovative RX, which is inaugurated with its operations department. Oakley Transport uses this system to place units in shop status or available status to keep everyone informed. It also has a scheduling system to inform everyone as equipment comes due for PM or repairs.
“We do use some outside suppliers to handle unscheduled maintenance, like road calls,” Nativo says. “We have an in-house breakdown department and we have national accounts with several suppliers to handle unscheduled repairs and maintenance. We use all Volvo dealers, Ryder, T/A, Petro and Love’s. Our breakdown department has a number of approved vendors that they use, and our computer system lists them in our service provider screens.”
“The key advantages of predictive and/or preventive maintenance include reducing unscheduled downtime, overall operating cost and CSA scores, which means you have happier drivers, operations staff and customers,” says David Foster, vice president of maintenance for Premier Transportation. “Like most fleets, we have an in house software system that tracks miles and times between PMs. Also, if you can be proactive and keep equipment out of dealerships you can typically repair the unit more cost effectively.”
Premier Transportation managers pull these reports regularly, and its drivers also communicate via satellite with pre- and post-trip inspection items that require maintenance. Premier Transportation has an associate that follows up to make sure the vehicles/drivers have been routed to the appropriated maintenance facility and that the maintenance has been completed.
Foster notes that the fleet measures PM compliance and recognizes those facilities that are on top predictive and preventive maintenance. “We have an in-house breakdown department that takes care of all unscheduled maintenance needs that arise on the road,” he adds. “These associates have preferred vendors on file, with whom we have worked over the years, and they are contacted to perform the maintenance for us.”
Premier Transportation is an Irregular Route Common and Contract Carrier, which specializes in providing integrated transportation and logistics solutions to the retail and consumer products industries nationwide.