Six Ways to Take Maintenance Off Autopilot

May 22, 2015
Is your PM program still effective, or is it showing it's age?

Preventive maintenance seems like a pretty obvious and relatively simple concept. Yet if you’re like a lot of fleets your preventive maintenance schedule is probably on autopilot. You set a schedule and more or less like clockwork trucks come in for their necessary maintenance. You don’t think about it and the schedule rarely changes.

But when was the last time you really looked at your preventive maintenance schedule to see if it still made sense? If you still are doing what you’ve always done, your PMs may not be as effective as they could be.

Here are some tips from the maintenance management specialist Decisiv for revitalizing your PM program.

  1. Use VMRS codes: VMRS is about more than the nine-digit product codes you probably are familiar with. There are also codes that describe the reason work was performed and that identify the apparent cause of a failure. By VMRS coding all your maintenance and repair events you’ll be able to see exactly which components are failing and under what circumstances. You can use this information to modify PM schedules as needed.
  2. Examine CSA violations and fines: You’ll learn a lot about the effectiveness of your PM program by reviewing the findings from roadside inspections. If you see a pattern of violations and fines in a certain area, consider beefing up maintenance checks for those high-violation components in an attempt to find problems before an inspector does.
  3. Track breakdowns between repairs: This is another great way to check the effectiveness of your PM program and the thoroughness of your own technicians or those employed by your outside service providers. If breakdown frequency between PMs is high, it may be time for some additional training or you may need to change your PM intervals.
  4. Set PM schedules based on specific vehicle attributes: All vehicles are not created equal. Therefore all vehicles should not be following the same PM schedule. Consider asset age and duty cycle when setting up your PM schedules. Design PM schedules around certain classes of assets. For example vehicles that are older or have more mileage may need to be seen more often or have additional types of maintenance performed than newer trucks with fewer miles.
  5. Revise inspection checklists: Does your inspection checklist make sense or are technicians wasting time repeatedly moving back and forth from one side of the truck to the other or from the front to the back? Do a little experiment. Take the inspection checklist and perform a vehicle PM inspection in the order items appear on the list. See if the order makes sense and if not reorganize the form to improve efficiency.
  6. Consider electronic forms: Paper inspection forms are harder to change and more time consuming to fill out. Electronic forms are easy to amend, can be tailored for a specific truck (you can have different inspection forms for different assets) and are simple to fill out. The easier you make the inspection the more likely it is to be completed, and the more likely you are to find problems that can be fixed quickly and inexpensively.

If your preventive maintenance program is the same now as it’s always been, consider using some or all of these suggestions to revitalize it. The end result could be fewer CSA violations and a decrease in on-road breakdowns.

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