Five topics to explore with contract maintenance providers
By Gino Fontana
Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange
Today’s trucks are complex pieces of machinery that require ongoing maintenance. The maintenance and repair needs of the trucks being developed for the future are unknown at this time. But what we do know is that those trucks will likely require a different skill set when it comes to maintenance and repair.
If you have not already outsourced your maintenance and repair needs, now is a good time to consider working with a contract maintenance provider who will take over all the responsibilities of keeping your trucks in good operating condition.
Before beginning to evaluate this option, be aware that for the relationship to work successfully, you will need to be willing to share information about your operation with a potential service provider. They need a complete understanding of your operation in order to put together a maintenance plan that is right for your fleet.
If you are willing to do that, then here are a few key areas you need to explore with potential contract maintenance providers.
- Technicians: Make sure the service provider has enough technicians to handle your work but also investigate the competency of those techs to complete the types of service procedures most common in your fleet. Ask about certifications from truck makers and from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Don’t forget to inquire about ongoing training and about the plans the service provider has for ensuring its technicians become competent in working on zero-emission vehicles.
- Tools and Equipment: All the skills in the world won’t be enough if the shop does not have the right tools and equipment to work on your trucks. Ask about the various diagnostics tools the shop has purchased. Are technicians equipped with laptops in the bays? Does the shop have all the specialty tools it will need to complete repairs for you?
- Parts Inventory: No one likes to hear that a repair is being held up because parts are not available. During the past few years, supply chain issues have made it difficult to get parts. While pressure on the supply chain seems to be easing, make sure the service provider has a deep and broad inventory in-house and that it has a wide network of sources for parts so that your asset doesn’t end up sitting because parts are on backorder.
- Data collection and analytics: Your contract maintenance provider can be a valuable asset if it can use data collected from service events to provide insight into the health of your fleet. Ask about the service repair management system the service provider is using and about the types of data it captures. Also, ask if they can track preventive maintenance currency to make sure all vehicles are up to date on their required maintenance.
- Communication: It is important that any service provider you work with keeps you informed of the status of repairs. Ask them if you will be able to see the progress of service events in real-time. Can they provide realistic estimates on when repairs will begin and when they will be completed? Also, inquire about how they will handle complaints and concerns.
Given all that is happening in the trucking industry, now may be a good time to evaluate the benefits of outsourcing your maintenance and repair to experts in the field with a proven track record. Make sure you get all your questions answered on key topics so that you can make the right decision for your fleet.