Choosing a contract maintenance provider

By Joseph Evangelist

Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange

There are many companies that say they can provide preventive maintenance and running repairs for fleets on a contract basis. However, there are a number of things you need to find out before turning your vehicles over to an outside service provider. There’s a lot at stake and you want to be sure you are making an informed decision.

Here are a few key areas to explore with any potential maintenance provider.

  • Technicians: Find out how many technicians they have along with their training and certification credentials. Also don’t forget to ask about ongoing training programs they may provide. Given the complexity and sophistication of today’s tractors, trailers and refrigeration units, you want to make sure their technicians are continually upgrading their skills and staying current. Are the technicians skilled at using diagnostic scan tools and the specialized software needed to properly diagnose and repair your vehicles?
  • Technology: What kind of technology has the service provider invested in? Do they have the latest scan and diagnostic tools? Are they employing technology that monitors your vehicles’ performance as they are moving down the road? Do they analyze telematics and sensor data to help predict when failures will occur? Breakdowns are costly, so anything they can do to find a problem before it causes a roadside emergency is a big plus.
  • Experience: How long has the company been providing contract maintenance? What is the tenure of their staff including management and technicians? Do they have career paths for their employees?
  • Data analytics: In addition to analyzing sensor data, can they review data looking for failure trends? Can they provide insight into which components are working in your specific application and then make specification recommendations so that you get vehicles that are spec’d to meet the rigors of your duty cycles? Do they have a mechanism in place to track PM currency to make sure all vehicles are up to date on their needed PM service?
  • Communication: Communicating with clients on a regular basis is important. Do they have a transparent communication system as it relates to maintenance and repair? Can you see the progress of a maintenance service or repair in real time? Can they send you real-time updates on repairs? Can they give accurate estimates of when repairs will begin and when they will be completed?

Choosing the right contract maintenance provider for your fleet is a matter of asking questions about their staff, technology, communications protocol and ability to analyze available data. The right answers to your questions will lead you to the provider that is best suited to keep your vehicles running efficiently and economically. And that will keep your customers happy because they will receive their orders in a timely and cost-effective manner.

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