By Gino Fontana
Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange
There are probably hundreds—perhaps even thousands—of things that fleets can do to maximize vehicle uptime. However, I think all those things can be distilled into three main areas, each of which requires attention.
1. Proper vehicle inspections
Drivers’ pre- and post-trip inspections are the foundation of a good maintenance program. Of course, they are mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, but that is not the only reason inspections should be carefully adhered to. They are the first line of defense in identifying a developing problem with a vehicle. Drivers are attuned to the performance of their vehicle, and they can spot nuanced differences often well before other signs of a problem—like a fault code—appear. A small change in the way the vehicle sounds or handles can grab a driver’s attention. Make sure to pay attention to what drivers are including in their DVIRs and give their concerns the attention they deserve. Doing so could mean you will be able to identify and fix a problem in its nascent stage before any real damage is done.
2. Technician engagement
All the intelligence from drivers is worthless if service technicians do not take it seriously and respond to it. Most of us already have a process in place such as Red-Tag or DVIR that serves as the communication between drivers and technicians. Make certain it is adhered to. Technicians also should be trained on performing quality preventive maintenance inspections whenever a truck is in the shop. These inspections need to be thorough and are a great way to identify developing problems and to follow up on previous maintenance and repair work.
3. Fleet manager diligence
There is an ocean of data available for each truck—and fleet managers today are lucky because they have access to that data in near real-time. Fleet managers need to become adept at spotting developing problems and taking appropriate action. Depending on the nature of the problem, that could mean getting the truck to the shop at the end of the driver’s shift, allowing extra time in the shop at the vehicle’s next scheduled preventive maintenance service, or pulling the truck off the road immediately. Fleet managers have much better insight into what is happening with the truck than they have in the past, but they need to learn how to sift through the data to spot anomalies and act on those.
Putting these three pillars in place will ensure that the fleet continues to operate efficiently. If any one of these pillars is not strong, there could be negative consequences, including out-of-service violations—or worse, an on-road breakdown.