Home grown IT helps boost maintenance savings
Manager: Jim Minske
Title: Director of Maintenance
Fleet: A. Duie Pyle, West Chester, PA
Operation: Regional LTL carrier serving the Northeast
“I've evaluated many third-party maintenance systems in my career and I've found there's a distinct advantage in a fleet building its own system,” says Jim Minske. “It can be tailored to your own specific needs.”
Pyle operates a fleet of 1,900 trailers and 522 tractors. A team of 76 techs is spread among a headquarters shop and 11 satellite shops. Some shops have two techs, others up to 10. But all handle everything from PMs to major repairs.
“Not only do we maintain tractors and trailers in our 12 maintenance facilities — including accident repairs and other heavy-duty work — we maintain a lot of miscellaneous equipment, such as forklifts, flatbeds, etc.,” he relates.
“And with a lot of commercial systems, there are peripheral ‘modules’ that we don't need for our fleet, yet there are certain things they lack that we need to track.
“We handle virtually 100% of all our maintenance in-house, with the exception of some warranty work and tires,” says Minske. “By using our own techs, we believe we have better control over cost, quality and turnaround time. But we need information to monitor and make sure that reliability is there. Our company's logo is ‘service first’ in terms of on-time deliveries for customers and our role is to make sure that our fleet's equipment is ready to fulfill that promise.”
Moving from a paper-based to a computer- and Internet-based maintenance management system proved to be the easy part, says Minske. Developed by A. Duie Pyle's IT department, the new system is tightly focused on making sure vehicles get the proper PM at the proper service interval, and can be managed in accordance with performance and maintenance cost, not by pre-set years or mileage markers.
“We're trying to get away from retiring our equipment solely on the basis of how old it is or how many miles it's run,” Minske says. He notes that Pyle's equipment is usually retired after five to six years, during which 500,000 to 600,000 miles are covered.
“We want to move away from a hard-and-fast retirement date based on age or miles, and instead look at how a truck is performing on the basis of maintenance cost,” he points out. “That's why maintenance data is so important.”
Minske thinks the maintenance system's detailed focus on PM will enable the carrier to extend vehicle life further without impacting uptime or performance.
“We have a 76-item checklist for our power units at every PM, making sure our technicians do everything from look at coolant levels to adding grease at all required points,” Minske says. “It boils down to paying attention to the little details at every PM so we don't see that vehicle until its next PM.”
Now Pyle is focused on making the system even easier to use by adding in bar-coding capability, better parts inventory management and, eventually, control over an internally developed network of emergency road-call maintenance providers throughout the carrier's service territory.
Maintenance Bay presents case studies detailing how fleets resolve maintenance-related issues.