In the shops, I have always advocated managing by the minute, touting today’s cost are leaping over $1.00 per minute. This has always brought some clarity to those who have listened about how to lower cost and understand that simply by the minute is the best way to have those in control of spending money understand and manage downtime – associating it with dollars. For instance, three technicians talking about a Sunday night football game for 20 minutes or texting can cost the shop $60 ….
Now there is going to be another per-minute measurement – the driver’s clock. We used to call it hours of service, but now it is minutes of service, meaning that we are now measuring each minute – 660 minutes of driving and 840 minutes of total clock time. I have preached repairing trucks is more about uptime and spending the right dollars so a driver is not on the side of the road. An example is tires. Replace tires at PM time or change earlier, and forget trying to get the last 32nd and last rotation out of the tire because it is not about how cheap we can fix the vehicle; it is about managing the asset's uptime – now driver minutes. We are asset managers; low maintenance cost is not the most important measurement anymore, being the lowest cost provider is.
Because of ELDs, there will be no more working the log books or previous logging methods; now the noose is getting tighter. The minutes of downtime now really will be scrutinized closer in the smaller fleets. Someone will realize that decisions made in maintenance should include investment in uptime – see example replacing tires earlier – so if a failure happens in route, it is because of an uncontrollable situation and not trying to get the last tire rotation. Just because DOT says minimum of 2/32nd does not mean that is how far your tires go. This is one of the top CSA infractions. Stay away from the gallows, do not hang yourself.
PM inspections, though important before, going forward will be ever more important because of ELDs. Maintenance budgets before at times were an issue as most manage to the number as opposed to manage the budget, not TO the budget. Some will need to look at vehicle maintenance differently going forward. If you do not do it quickly, the big bad wolf studying ELD information will be blowing your door down. Look closely at your PM process, repair procedure, how and when you respond.
Along with EDLs come electronic DVIRs – another game changer – no more hiding, ducking and running. There is no more hiding; electronic information does not go away. You need to insure that you have a plan in place and execute change to adapt to technology now mandated and in place. The larger fleets have had time to implement quiet changes, adapting along the way. Smaller fleets may not have had the energy or been progressive turning towards a new direction and adapt to what is now here.
Now, there are six months before the hammer drops; let it be on someone else’s fingers. Look yourself over, turn your operation upside down, and clean up your house. CSAs, EDLs, DOT, FMCSA, OSHA are all linking up and coming after you. If you are worrying about this now, maybe it is too late.