Tuning Up Your PMIs

Preventive maintenance inspections are not static

I was reading the other day that the American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council recently released updates for three of its maintenance manuals. TMC said the reason for the updates was “to help train technicians in conducting timely, thorough and efficient preventive maintenance inspections.”

Updates were made to Preventive Maintenance Inspection Guidelines for Class 7 & 8 Diesel-Powered Tractors; Preventive Maintenance Inspection Guidelines for Trailers & Material Handling Equipment; and Preventive Maintenance Inspection Guidelines for Light- & Medium-Duty Vehicles.

While the article I was reading did not go into specifics about what the changes were, it did say that the guidelines “cover critical areas for fleet operators to be able to prevent costly vehicle breakdowns” and that “by following each manual’s PMI program, fleets are provided a road map to follow for maximum return-on-assets and optimal component life of major vehicle systems.”

The most interesting thing to me about this development is that it confirms something I have long believed and that is the fact that maintenance inspections are not static. I think too often when it comes to maintenance we keep doing what we have always done and assume that we are doing the best we can.
But today, with so much data available to us, we have plenty of opportunity to tweak maintenance inspections by the type of asset and the componentry on it.

I am not suggesting that PMIs be changed every day, but I don’t think it would hurt to have someone review standard inspections on an annual basis to make sure they are in sync with the changes that have been made to components. They should also be aligned with what your drivers are finding on their pre- and post-trip inspections and with trend data from all other inspections and service events.

PMIs are your first line of defense in finding a developing issue and fixing it before it becomes a big problem or causes an on-road breakdown. I think it would be time well spent on an annual basis to review your existing preventive maintenance inspections and adjust them in light of the data you get from your real world experiences.

The TMC guidelines are a great place to start and it seems clear to me that they, too, agree that occasionally PMIs need their own tune up.


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