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Defining downtime to make effective service choices


Any fleet manager will tell you that well maintained vehicles are safer, more fuel efficient and can provide for a longer and lower cost service life. For that reason, they would say, planned downtime for maintenance and repair events is a good investment.

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“While some downtime is a necessary and routine part of doing business in a trucking operation,” says Michael Riemer, vice president of products and channel marketing at Decisiv Inc., “cutting down on some of the readily accepted downtime for maintenance and repairs is within a fleet manager’s control. The key is to eliminate the avoidable causes of non-productive time by better managing the process.”

According to Riemer, over the course of providing its Service Relationship Management (SRM) platform to 900 fleets with 365,000 assets along with more than 2,200 service locations, Decisiv has learned that more than 80% of the time it takes to complete a service event is not related to actually performing service or making a repair. That includes time returning phone calls and leaving messages, waiting for estimates and approvals, and locating parts. There’s also the time a vehicle sits waiting to be picked up once the repair is completed, which has ramifications on operations and customer service as well.

“Too often, fleet managers don’t have real visibility into the true contributors of maintenance and repair downtime,” Riemer states. “Much of what is often classified as service or repair time is really time spent on something other than the actual repair.”


Cutting downtime

Riemer offers five tips for getting downtime for service events under control:

  1. Have all the information you need at the point of service: Avoid wasting time at the beginning of and during a service event trying to gather information about an asset, its service history, available warranty, recalls, service campaigns, pending operations, etc. Having all this data in one place allows the repair to progress quickly. Plus, you’ll maximize your warranty dollar recovery.
  2. Set clear operational rules with company shops and outside service providers: Communicate your fleet’s specific inspection operations usage criteria and ask service providers to use electronic inspection and other electronic means to communicate line item detail to ensure quality and timely data.
  3. Establish an approval protocol: Make sure outside service providers know who within your organization has the authority to approve repair estimates and to what dollar amount. Also, discuss the escalation process should the repair exceed a certain level or approvals don’t happen in a timely manner.
  4. Demand real-time repair status updates: From the onset, be sure to get an estimated time for repair and get regular updates without having to always be initiating a call for a status report. Make sure that major repair milestones are clearly tracked—arrival, inspection, estimate, repair, asset ready. Knowing exactly how a repair is progressing and when the work is to be completed helps you make better decisions about when to schedule assets back into service.
  5. Set proper metrics: Make sure you capture and measure all elements of event level detail, including everything from reason for repair to VMRS coding and downtime.

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