Warranty package for leased trucks cuts cpm
Manager: Eric O. Smith
Title: Director of maintenance & equipment
Fleet: Stevens Transport, Dallas, TX
Operation: Refrigerated carrier
Eric Smith is a man adept at finding ways to shave pennies off the cost of maintenance, using both a wrench and a computer. After a six-year stint in the Army that included training as a mechanic, he earned a degree in business. So Smith is armed with both hands-on vehicle maintenance skills and the financial knowledge necessary to make his fleet's maintenance department a cost-efficient operation.
The 1,700 tractors and 3,000 refrigerated trailers are maintained by a staff of 206 working out of two facilities — one each for tractors and trailers. “We can do everything in our shop, from oil changes to rebuilding wrecks and putting new equipment in service,” Smith says.
Finding ways to save on maintenance costs for drivers who are part of the carrier's truck leasing program presented some different challenges, however.
“We wanted to offer owner-operators top-of-the-line trucks, but with peace of mind when it came to getting [them] serviced out on the road [since] they can't always be scheduled into our facility for service,” Smith explains. And he wanted to make sure the maintenance plan wouldn't cost the independents an arm and a leg.
For its Peterbilt 387s, an extended warranty package proved to be an attractive maintenance-saving opportunity to give the fleet's independents more truck without more cost. The extended warranty package of 42mo./450,000 mi. brings a maintenance saving of 2¢/mi.
Paragon Leasing L.P., a subsidiary of Stevens Transport, buys the trucks and handles the maintenance for the independents; Alliance Leasing handles the actual lease transactions with drivers.
“We can do the maintenance here at our facility or they can get it on the road through a Peterbilt dealer or through one of our accounts set up at truckstop chains like TravelCenters of America, among others,” Smith says. “That gives them the flexibility to arrange their own maintenance schedule without adding more cost.”
That's critical since Stevens operates irregular routes across the lower 48 states, as well as into Mexico and Canada, via its network of 14 service centers. The carrier also gives its leased drivers access to its 24-hour Road Breakdown Assistance program so they can get the best prices available for all tire and repair needs.
In addition to overseeing emergency situations, the breakdown team — headed up by supervisor Terry Harper — tracks what's covered under the warranty, keeps tabs on equipment that's down, and helps drivers and minimize costs by eliminating unnecessary repairs.
Using TMT Software's maintenance package, the team can look up the history of each piece of equipment to better assess the situation and provde an informed plan of action right on the phone.
If road service is needed and a dealership isn't nearby, the carrier's Technologies Locator Service offers the driver a list of vendors that provide emergency service. “It's all about peace of mind on the road,” says Smith.
Maintenance Bay presents case studies detailing how fleets resolve maintenance-related issues.