We are all well aware that we are in for another year of allocation of new trucks from the OEMs. We know that means fleets will continue to operate older vehicles beyond their normal trade cycles, and that older vehicles tend to need more maintenance.
That makes it more important than ever to have a systematic approach to your maintenance process. Systematic means having a plan and following steps to ensure that every vehicle gets the attention is needs to perform optimally.
Here are suggestions for some steps to include in your maintenance approach.
- Reinforce the importance of pre- and post-trip inspections. These inspections are the first step in discovering developing problems. Drivers are keenly attuned to slight changes in the way a vehicle operates. Make sure you let them know the key role they play in your maintenance plan and encourage them to use driver vehicle inspection reports to report any issues they find.
- Track PM compliance. Develop a way to track whether trucks scheduled for maintenance actually have been into the shop to get their maintenance service performed. When you find that maintenance has been deferred, bring that asset into the shop as soon as possible.
- Avoid deferring maintenance. Do you know how often maintenance is deferred on your trucks? If not, make sure to find that out and uncover the reasons why it is happening. There may be some legitimate reasons to occasionally defer maintenance, but it should not happen frequently. Once you determine just how often maintenance is being deferred, try to eliminate the causes of it. While it may not be possible to avoid all deferred maintenance, the percentage of vehicles for which maintenance is deferred should be low. Tracking PM compliance will help ensure that those vehicles that had maintenance deferred get into the shop as soon as possible.
- Standardize your maintenance inspections. If you operate out of more than one location, make sure that you use a standardized PM form so that vehicles at each location are subjected to the same maintenance process. This ensures consistency across all your locations.
- Insist that any outside service providers you use follow your preventive maintenance inspection procedures. The goal is to have all your trucks under the same scrutiny no matter where the maintenance is performed. Your outside maintenance provider should follow your procedures; you should not have to adjust to follow theirs.
- Invest in ongoing technician training. New technology is coming into the market all the time, and there are always tweaks to existing technology. Make sure that your technicians—and those at any outside service providers you use—are up to date on the latest maintenance procedures.
Using a systematic approach to maintenance means that all your trucks will get the maintenance attention they need, and you will benefit from fewer roadside breakdowns and CSA violations.
Jane Clark is vice president of member services for NationaLease. In this position, she is focused on managing the member services operation as well as working to strengthen member relationships, reduce member costs, and improve collaboration within the NationaLease supporting groups. Prior to joining NationaLease, Clark served as area vice president for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Cos., Pro Staff, and Manpower Inc.