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How data-driven maintenance solutions can bolster the bottom line

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How many of your trucks, right now, are rolling down the road with an active fault code?

According to JPRO in-shop data from Noregon, it’s estimated that 92.5% of all modern trucks on the road have fault codes present on at least one ECU.

“Of those, 59.7% have active faults on one of the ECUs and 42.6% have active faults on at least one of the powertrain components,” said Greg Peck, product manager for TMW Systems Inc., elaborating on the JPRO data.

Let’s keep the statistic truck rolling. According to David Haun, director of custom solutions for Noregon Systems, the number of active fault codes has grown by 15% in the past three years. To put an even bigger knot in your stomach, Haun reported that 57% of trucks that roll out of the shop after service still have active fault codes.

“And 8% of all fault codes will put a truck on the side of the road,” Haun elaborated. “That’s more than 5,000 fault codes that can sideline a truck.”

So let’s go back to the original question: How many of your trucks have active faults? And remember that not every fault code triggers a dash light.

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If you can’t answer the question, it’s probably because you haven’t invested in a data-driven maintenance solution that will track the fault codes on your truck and report them remotely to a remote diagnostics dashboard and help you to determine the severity of a fault. If that’s the case, you’ve likely seen your maintenance costs rise sharply over the past five years.

Peck reported that maintenance costs have risen an estimated 50% in the last five years, and a large chunk of that—20%, to be exact—is due to unplanned maintenance that, in addition to costly downtime, can add up in the form of towing costs, extra labor costs for road repairs, mark-up on parts and maybe even shipper penalties for late deliveries.

“That’s money going down the drain,” Peck lamented. “Estimates put out-of-service truck costs at $850 to $1,000 a day. At TMW Systems, if we could address 35% of predictive fault codes, we could save a fleet up to $500 per truck per year.”

Peck pointed to TMW’s TMT Fleet Maintenance solution, which is available with TMT Predict.Fault Code, the first tool to be offered under the company’s new TMT Predict Series of maintenance analytics solutions and TMT First Step. TMT Predict Fault.Code and TMT First Step enable fleet managers to anticipate and address potential vehicle breakdowns and other unscheduled service needs before they occur.

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“Reactive maintenance decisions can lead to breakdowns and de-rated engine situations,” Peck said. “With TMT Predict.Fault Code, we’re capturing and analyzing more than 80 vehicle performance parameters in order to anticipate service needs before they happen.”

The TMT Predict.Fault Code application works in conjunction with the PeopleNet Mobile Gateway (PMG) and its data science to capture and analyze vehicle fault codes and other signal values representing more than 80 leading vehicle performance variables.

When fault codes and other vehicle data indicate an increased probability of failure, a dashboard alert appears in the user’s TMT Fleet Maintenance software. The alert identifies the fleet’s assigned equipment number, vehicle identification number, probability of failure, Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) and description, leading performance variables triggering the probability, and other key equipment and signal values.

Diving deeper

Avoiding a critical fault code is a win in any fleet’s book, but remote diagnostic solutions allow fleets to dive deeper into the data to pile on even more savings. Consider non-critical faults. Despite the name, non-critical faults can often have a critical impact on a truck’s fuel economy. Noregon’s Haun discussed the importance of understanding the effect of non-critical faults to improve fuel economy.

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“Faults at lower severity levels—faults that will never throw a dash light and you’d never know about until the truck rolls into the shop—means that your truck could be running for two or three months at a lower fuel economy performance level,” Haun said. “Being able to take care of those sooner means you’re saving money. That’s not to say that you take that truck out of service, but the information enables you to schedule that truck’s service sooner and at a time that makes sense for your operation.”

You can bolt on even more data-driven insight within a maintenance program in the form of electronic driver vehicle inspection reports (eDVIRs) to ensure that your drivers are looking out for your trucks’ best operational interests. eDVIRs ensure compliance with company inspection policies, increase compliance with DOT process for roadside inspections and can integrate into third-party maintenance packages.

“It’s all about increasing inspection compliance through customization and automation,” said Dave Marek, senior product manager for PeopleNet. “Our system, for example, details exact locations where inspections were completed and makes inspections available on a web-based portal. Inspections can be completed and uploaded to the cloud, where data can be integrated into an electronic driver log and back office maintenance systems.”

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This can help you on two fronts. First, you know that your drivers are completing the inspections; or, if they aren’t, you’re given visibility into the situation and you are able to address it. Secondly, you’re able to build a history of inspection reports that can help to address maintenance issues down the line.

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