Manager: Bruce Lafky
Title: Director of Maintenance
Fleet: Ryder System, Miami, FL
Operation: Major nationwide full-service lessor
A Ryder lease customer fielded a 2,000-vehicle fleet out of 140 locations in the United States and Canada, with all maintenance authority decentralized. With vehicle management and budgeting handled at the local level by general managers, there were in effect 140 different sets of maintenance practices at work.
“Repairs were handled by a variety of dealerships and local garages, without any way to track the repairs or costs outside of each local facility,” says Ryder director of maintenance Bruce Lafky.
“Upwards of 10,000 different maintenance providers were used, mainly on a ‘one-off’ basis for oil changes, new tires, engine repairs, etc.,” he continues. “No consideration was given to parts or labor pricing, there was no preventive maintenance compliance, and no maintenance baseline could be established to determine how costs compared to industry averages.”
If that weren't all, this customer's fleet contained too many spares: From 10 to 15 vehicles were stationed at each location but, on average, only eight of them operated on daily routes.
“The [customer's] thought was that local control of fleet maintenance would result in tighter cost control, similar to the advantages of have local control on the fleet's operational side, as well as increasing fleet uptime,” Lafky points out.
“The problem with that structure is it became impossible to take an in-depth look at costs across the fleet,” he adds. “There was no central repository of information, so no one could compare costs from one fleet location to another, much less against industry standards.”
Ryder helped centralize the maintenance function for this fleet. That proved to be key not only to controlling maintenance costs but also “rightsizing” the fleet to ensure the most economic value, reports Lafky.
“We spent a week at each facility to evaluate all the assets — determining their physical condition, age of each unit, what it would take to keep them running, and whether it was worth the money to do so,” he says. “Then we rolled all of that fleet information and maintenance data into one centralized database. From that pool of data, we could extract information and measure against industry standards.
“Without any way to measure your maintenance spending against other companies in your market,” Lafky points out, “you have no idea if you are spending too much or too little. It's just this big pile of money that goes out your door every month.”
Ryder also helped pare the fleet down to just 1,100 units, getting rid of old equipment that was shown to be too costly to repair by comparison to industry averages.
The benefits of centralizing the fleet's maintenance operations were hard to miss, says Lafky. These included consolidated billing, better cost control through better information visibility, proper recordkeeping and DOT compliance, and the ability to maintain consistent preventive maintenance practices and procedures across the entire fleet.
Maintenance Bay presents case studies detailing how fleets resolve maintenance-related issues.