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How service keeps rolling through the changes

Managing Editor of Fleet Equipment Magazine

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While many of our country’s businesses either shut down or saw business slow significantly this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one area of the economy that has had to stay resilient is truck service. To borrow from the famous motto of the United States Postal Service, neither rain nor snow nor pandemic can keep trucks from continuing to run their routes and form the backbone of the country’s economy. And if the trucks are running, the service shops are running too.

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This is borne out by the numbers: According to a recent study from Decisiv, over an eight-week period in March and April, an average of 63,300 service events were managed on the SRM platform weekly, with service activity on weekdays continuing to exceed 12,000 events daily. This, Decisiv noted, was in line with the same time period the year before.

With service as necessary as ever, service providers have had to adapt to the changing times. So FE reached out to a few truck OEMs to hear about how their dealerships are adjusting to the current situation, and what that means for their customers.

Volvo Trucks, for instance, highlights the importance of some of its existing technology, such as its remote diagnostics offerings and ASIST, a web-based tool that allows customers to communicate with dealerships and receive updates on their vehicles’ service status.

“Through this pandemic, we have seen a lot of new best practices and uses coming from the ASIST tool,” notes Phillip Swaim, director of network uptime development with Volvo Trucks North America. “The biggest area has been around using the portal to abide by social distancing mandates at dealerships. ASIST allows each owner of the process to work separately but still keep the flow of service, parts and repairs moving at very efficient rates. 

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“Additionally, the Certified Uptime dealer certification process is built off of dealer best practices,” he adds. “Through this time of the pandemic, we have continued to lean on our dealers to learn the best usage of ASIST and discover new processes. ASIST has allowed our dealers to communicate internally and with customers, all while keeping everyone safe and socially distanced.”

Similarly, Mack Trucks dealerships rely on ASIST to help keep service rolling. Mack also announced that it has made several investments in technology, resources and services to improve uptime for customers, including increased staffing of OneCall agents and improvements to capabilities such as ASIST. Mack Parts Distribution Centers are also up and running, keeping Mack dealers stocked with necessary parts for uptime support. 

Of course, it’s also crucial to make sure that each shop is putting good safety and cleanliness practices into place. Kevin Bangston, general manager of distribution network development for Daimler Trucks North America, shares the company’s practices for dealing with virus exposure at a dealer location.

“Even when we have had an interruption at a point or two in the network because of exposure, they’ve quickly performed the necessary quarantines, cleaned the service areas, and been up and running, typically within about a 12-hour turnaround time,” he says. “The dependability and reliability of the network has been great.”

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You can hear more from Kevin Bangston on what DTNA’s service network has been doing to help customers during this time in our recent podcast interview; click here to listen.

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