By staying on top of daily shop operations, actively working with technicians and other maintenance personnel, and focusing on cost control, PacLease Montreal in St-Laurent, Quebec, is constantly improving customer service, according to Eliane Foley, the shop’s service manager.
“Those management skills,” she adds, “are what enable us to do a better job of running a more efficient and productive shop and to reduce downtime for vehicle service and repairs.”
PacLease Montreal’s service activity covers a fleet of 375 power units comprised of 300 Kenworth T680 tractors and 75 of the manufacturer’s T800, T880 and T370 models. The maintenance operation is housed in a shop at the Kenworth Montreal dealership and at the leasing operation’s main customer facility, where it maintains a fleet of 119 trucks. Each location has four tractor bays and in total 15 technicians work in both facilities covering 21 hours each day, seven days a week.
Communication is the key to providing customers with effective and efficient service, Foley emphasizes. “For example, all service inquiries are sent to one email address, and to facilitate internal and external communication, we have created distribution lists to all employees involved with our service operation,” she explains. “That way, even if one employee is not working that day we always receive a customer’s message, and we can avoid communication breakdowns and increase customer satisfaction.
“We receive e-mail notifications when fault codes are logged on our vehicles. It allows us to improve our decision making by analyzing the severity of fault events.” —Eliane Foley,
PacLease Montreal, service manager
Monitoring fleet health
“Another efficient and useful management tool we’re using in our shops is called RECAP, which stands for recapitulation,” Foley continues. “It is basically a spreadsheet that is updated throughout the day by our service coordinators and is sent twice a day to all service, rental and lease employees so everyone is up to speed on all of our service activity. Then, each month we use that information to provide a fleet health report to our lease customers, which includes an overall view of maintenance on their vehicles.”
PacLease Montreal is also connected to its major customers’ telematics systems so it receives all driver pre-trip inspection reports as well as real-time ETAs when a truck is headed to a shop. “With that information we can plan workloads and prepare repair orders ahead of time,” Foley says. “Being proactive makes all the difference for our operation and for our customers.”
Foley also conducts in-house maintenance analyses by using real-time decision support tools to turn data into actionable intelligence. Proactively identifying potential trouble spots and giving them the attention they need, she notes, reduces downtime, maintenance costs and service interruptions.
Improving decision making
Technologies in use at PacLease Montreal that are facilitating service efficiency, according to Foley, include the Kenworth TruckTech+ Remote Diagnostics system. “We receive e-mail notifications when fault codes are logged on our vehicles,” she explains. “It allows us to improve our decision making by analyzing the severity of fault events.
Kenworth’s remote diagnostics technology helps diagnose and solve potential problems before they impact a customer’s operation. Standard on every new Class 8 Kenworth, the system provides instant notification of fault information. In the shop, it enables diagnostic reasoning to help technicians with fault guidance and diagnostics.
“Another technology we added last year was a telematics system,” Foley relates. “The GPS-based devices track our fleet’s location and mileage so we can plan PM schedules and assist drivers if a problem occurs on the road.”
On one occasion, Foley adds, a customer had a vehicle breakdown at the Canada-U.S. border. “Without telematics to locate the truck, there was no way we could figure out which side of the border it was on,” she explains. “With precision positioning, however, we saved time because towing companies need to have the right permits when they are dispatched to an event at a border location.”
Fully equipped shops
The PacLease Montreal shop is also outfitted with technologies that meet Kenworth and Cummins standards for repair work and warranty claims.
“We have all the required software to work on engines, transmissions, ABS and traction control systems, and other components,” Foley says. “In each bay we supply a laptop, and in both facilities there are computer stations for technicians to log in and out, update repair orders and conduct technical research online.
“We also use a number of basic but priceless tools that lower our repair costs,” Foley continues. “For example, there are electronic tire gauges, automatic wheel balancers, windshield repair kits, battery protector coating systems and quick connect tire pressure valves. For trucks based at our main customer’s facility we also use a quick connect drain valve system that’s allowing oil changes to be done faster and cleaner. With this system we perform nearly 800 oil changes per year in a shop that’s not equipped with a pit.”
Foley is also focused on the workplace environment in PacLease Montreal’s shops, which use lighting, paint and cleanliness programs to improve technician working conditions and morale. The company also operates a fully equipped mobile service unit, which according to Foley helps avoid the need for towing and saves time by performing PMs and repairs in customers’ yards or on the road.
“Preventive maintenance is the key to boosting vehicle uptime,” Foley stays. “For all of our trucks we apply a rigorous PM plan that includes customized inspections and troubleshooting of all inactive fault codes.
“For us, PM really starts with a comprehensive pre-delivery inspection that we continually review and adjust as we need to address new issues,” Foley relates. “We also implement specific actions to counteract failures due to weather, high mileage and heavy-haul applications. That includes customizing engine and transmission parameters, sealing all electrical connections, and preventing corrosion by wrapping or painting components.”
To help improve preventive maintenance practices at PacLease Montreal, Foley uses a series of metrics to measure performance and a technician’s capacity to meet expectations.
The data is published internally in performance reports and used to review goals on a regular basis. The information is also considered during annual performance reviews for each member of the team.
“We also use manufacturer’s standard repairs times to challenge technicians,” Foley says. “By showing them the profit or loss on warranty repairs and maintenance costs compared to the revenue per truck, we develop a budget awareness throughout the staff, and that makes people feel that they are really contributing to our results.”
Lowering technician turnover
Foley is also quick to point that PacLease Montreal has lower technician turnover than other shops. “You have to be seen and talked about,” she says. “We use social networks as much as we can to share our needs, and personally I make sure that we are present at all industry job fairs.
“We also maintain contact with instructors I had when I studied mechanics. I asked them to make presentations to groups of students about us,” Foley adds. “It’s a great way to prepare students for the industry’s realities and to differentiate PacLease Montreal from the competition by being present early in their careers.”
“GPS-based devices track our fleet’s location and mileage so we can plan PM schedules and assist drivers if a problem occurs on the road.”—Eliane Foley,PacLease Montreal,
Foley says that strategies used by the shop to ensure retention include investment in the work environment, flexible schedules, quality tools and equipment, social events, and continuous training to support in the technicians’ professional development.
Personally, Foley also maintains her education and training, especially to develop and improve her management skills. In 2017, she completed a university certificate in Business Management. In addition, she takes advantage of financial support that PACCAR offers to employees for career-oriented studies.
“That helps me continue to reach my full potential,” Foley says. “It also allows me to more effectively manage our daily operation and our employees, focus on cost control and enhance customer service.”