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Reducing downtime through location, logistics and data

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Jason Morgan is the editor of Fleet Equipment. He has more than 14 years of B2B journalism experience covering the likes of trucking and construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer industries.

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There are two things any fleet can agree on when it comes to getting a downed truck back on the road—they want the service job done quickly, and they want it done correctly. Fairly or not, technology continues to raise our service expectations. In our personal lives, we push a button to instantly stream a movie, and we make purchases online and expect the items to be on our doorstep within two days. So why can’t our trucks be repaired just as quickly?

It’s an issue that OEMs are addressing by investing in their parts and service networks. Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) recently opened a parts distribution center (PDC) in Grimes, Iowa, in continued pursuit of reducing downtime. The new location is the third new PDC to open in DTNA’s network in the past two years.

“Creating a PDC network that is able to resupply the service locations with parts within 12 hours was our target, moving the average from over three days standard delivery time,” said Jay Johnson, general manager of the aftermarket supply chain for Daimler Trucks North America. “The PDC network is the rapid recovery solution in the event a part is not at the service location. As we continue to build the network, the percentage of time down due to a part issue will be reduced. Our network is well positioned to repair vehicles in 24 hours or less. Our ambition is to have a complete network of service locations that meet that mark.”

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Location and logistics are big parts of the plan, but technology is paving the way toward reduced downtime. DTNA is currently focusing on the upstream requirements, better planning and increased visibility to know where parts are, Johnson said.

Additionally, integrating the data rolling off its Freightliner and Western Star trucks is also on DTNA’s radar. In the same way that truck telematics dashboards have made their way into your daily business operations, it’s a safe bet that data is going to drive service location operational improvements as well.

“We have started down the road of data analytics,” Johnson said. “The opportunity to tie in DTNA’s Virtual Technician data to dispatch a part before the truck arrives at a service location will be key in the future. We are working on making these connections.

“A lot of the advancements with parts availability will come through increased data analysis and visibility to the events. One caveat to that would be for older trucks that need a part, we are working on ways to produce parts using 3D printing technology. We are in the beginning stages of implementing this technology, but we need to learn to walk before we run.”

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From a fleet’s point of view, working with your OEM to understand the communication process for an unplanned service event can help reduce downtime as well. In DTNA’s case, tools like UptimePro, Express WriteUp and Service Tracker ensure that fleets have visibility to the service event and can make the best decision for your driver, truck and load.

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