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Finding benefits in leasing and outsourced truck maintenance services

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Uptime is always driven by a strong maintenance program, notes Steve Zaborowski, senior vice president at XTRA Lease. “Our customers need to manage trucks, freight and drivers, so we’re focused on providing different types of services to keep them up and running,” he says. “Especially as we add trailers to our fleet, that means being able to provide in-house maintenance at our branch locations, on-site service, and have a network of reliable vendors.”

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Today, according to Zaborowski, Xtra Lease has more than 5,000 local and on-highway vendors that perform maintenance on its lease and rental fleet of over-the-road trailers. The network includes trailer manufacturers’ branches and dealerships, independent and mobile service providers, and multiple tire company outlets, including retreaders. The company also uses national programs to ensure access to parts at a favorable price.

Bill Dawson, Ryder’s vice president of maintenance and engineering, points out that the increasing cost of equipment and the growing complexity of new technology, plus the maintenance associated with it, requires qualified, trained technicians to ensure proper diagnosis and repair. “In this ever-changing technological and regulatory environment, this challenge has only grown all the more apparent,” he adds.

“Relying on an experienced third-party provider for fleet management ensures greater uptime,” Dawson continues. “Fleets should be able to expect flexible solutions that are tailored to their business needs.”

RELATED: Read Ryder’s take on driver-facing cameras here.

Ryder’s portfolio of maintenance options includes mobile services using trained and certified technicians, and maintenance vehicles equipped with the same diagnostic tools as traditional brick and mortar facilities. The mobile maintenance trucks have all of the equipment needed to complete comprehensive preventative maintenance and a wide array of follow-up work.

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“Our company provides a vast array of maintenance services from over 750 facilities staffed with skilled technicians who perform work on nearly every make and model,” says Jim Lager, senior vice president of sales at Penske Truck Leasing. “Our network is dedicated to serving customers so their service work can be completed when it is most convenient for them.

“Our customers need to operate technologically advanced and well-maintained equipment to maximize safety, driver comfort and operating efficiency,” Lager continues. “Effective services provide visibility, flexibility, cost management, predictability and accountability. The immediate benefit of consolidating with a service provider is uninterrupted transportation.”

PacLease also offers contract maintenance as one of its services, in additional to truck leasing and rental.

“At PacLease there’s no standard solution, and we’ll design a contract maintenance program that is specifically created for the fleet,” says Michelle Harry, PacLease’s director of marketing and services. “Plans will take into account factors such as the fleet operation, the overall age and condition of the fleet, routes traveled, vehicle mileage and the type of application. Our CM programs will include trained maintenance technicians and professionals who will maintain the fleet and provide the labor and parts to maintain vehicles and maximize uptime.

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“Additionally, PacLease can manage DOT records and provide support for CSA and DOT regulatory compliance,” she went on. “Much like our Full Service Lease offering, the programs are tailor-made to fit specific needs.”

Key capability

For all maintenance providers having advanced information and management technology is a key capability. At Penske, for example, ServiceNet is a proprietary program that ensures maintenance systems consistency across the company’s network. “If a vehicle that is domiciled in Dallas is in need of repairs at our Nashville location we can provide that technician with a full maintenance history,” Lager explains. “It is also useful if different technicians work on the same vehicle in one location.”

Lager also notes the value in using data to make informed maintenance choices. “We supply tailored metrics based on how customers measure their productivity,” he says. “The visibility into fleets through our FleetInsight online tool helps customers make decisions in real time using the most current data.”

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The ability to track and manage maintenance using data is central to the latest revisions that XTRA Lease made to its maintenance management system. “We updated the solution to better understand costs and to build maintenance schedules for improved uptime,” Zaborowski says. “The system was also modernized with mobile capabilities. All of these tools help seamlessly solve problems and ensure that customers can run their businesses without interruption.”

At Xtra Lease, Zaborowski says, rental and lease trailers are equipped with SkyBitz trailer tracking systems that provide location information used to plan maintenance services. “This year,” he also explains, “new dry vans in our fleet have cargo sensors so we can know if a trailer is loaded or unloaded and focus on scheduling maintenance when a vehicle is empty. That can include arranging service on a trailer at a shipper’s location to reduce downtime.”

PacLease

According to PacLease’s Harry, behind the scenes, PacLease franchises have rolled out new systems and enhanced data analytics designed to provide greater visibility of the vehicles they lease. “This allows for faster information or early detection warnings of any issues that may occur with the operation of the trucks. The end result is more uptime for our customers,“ she says.

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Data from vehicles and fault code data from remote vehicle diagnostics systems are some of the information tools that Ryder uses to manage maintenance services. “Fleets that have the data they need can reach the best conclusions about meeting their maintenance needs,” Ryder’s Dawson says. “They can use that information to perform a deep analysis of their operations that impact maintenance.

“For example, new Hours-of-Service regulations are impacting productivity in some operations,” Dawson continues. “For that reason, fleets that know their drivers’ availability can work to schedule maintenance during off-duty hours. Once fleets understand all their requirements, including where vehicles are based, fleet sizes and planned service needs based on equipment lifecycles, they can make more informed decisions.”

For leasing and service providers, maintenance may be the single most critical aspect of effectively managing customer fleets. With a full range of managed services, including full service, preventive, and on-demand maintenance, equipment can perform safely and reliably and fleets can maximize uptime.

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