Fleets need to track all maintenance aspects to control costs effectively
Feb 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Rick Weber
NTTC Cargo Tank Maintenance Seminar...
He said fleets need to determine the average number of hours per fleet vehicle by a historical repair order analysis, giving them a picture of how many vehicles are in operation from year to year.
“This can be done by a tractor, trailer, or component evaluation that identifies the mechanic specialty for the fleet,” he said. “A lot of fleets have specific components on their vehicles — blowers, hydraulic systems, etc — and have specialized people who work on just those components. Or some send it out. You have to look at value to see where your own fleet captures those costs. By knowing the available mechanic hours and the past requirements of the fleet by repair order, an average requirement can be determined.”
Track the following with spreadsheets:
- Labor hours
“Take a look at total labor hours and compare them to shops in your own system,” he said. “Track overtime hours. Do you need more mechanics? Do the analysis. Are you better off to get a mechanic or give more work to one of the mechanics who's really motivated to do the job? Over a period of time, you can determine what processes and procedures are in place to decrease your costs.”
- Work orders
“You have only so many days, hours, and technicians available,” he said. “You have to determine through historical analysis how many work orders you're capable of getting through the shop. By tracking, you can know what the standard is for that shop. Open work orders have to be done within the system you're using to account.”
- Hours absorbed
“If you're assuming a 90% efficiency rate, you have to look at how that actually applies to your fleet,” he said. “PACCAR, International, and some of your better facilities, are set up to be 90-95% efficient. But many fleets are not really that efficient. Many things are going on that deduct from their capabilities, and there are many distractions. Take a look at your hours and where they're going.”
- Capital equipment expenditures
Because it's such a capital-intensive industry, take a look at where tractors are and the reasons they're not in service. Outside of the declining economy the past couple of years, you have to take a look at the assets available. Are there reasons why tractors are in certain locations? What are those locations? Are they in a service facility? Are they wrecked and undergoing service somewhere else? These things have to be reviewed before maintenance managers can make improvements. Track trailers the same way. There will be wrecked trailers, out-of-service trailers, trailers being inspected. Trailers are going to be different places, and the fleet must track them and see what's available for asset utilization of the fleet. Operations and maintenance have to work together. By being able to track, managers can see what improvements have been undertaken. They have to identify where costs are going and why.
Tires are a huge expense. New-tire inventory can vary by the position the fleet is in financially to make extensive acquisitions. Some manufacturers are operating incentives for fleets to take on increased new-tire capability. Over the long run, that will help reduce tire costs.
“Is 7 cents a mile good for a fleet? 3? 5?” Buchanan asked. “Once you identify that you believe you have a tire-cost issue, bring in outsiders from your tire manufacturer and have them provide solutions. They are willing to do that because as needs for increased truck acquisitions increase, they're going to want to have their tires spec'd. If they can solve a problem for you, they are looking for you to show loyalty in spec'ing their tires.”
He said if nobody tracks warranty issues, “there's a lot of money left on the table.”
Questions to answer: Who can authorize warranty claims? Is labor covered? What procedure is required to validate a claim? How long will it take to settle a claim? Is this an absolute, or will the vendor work with fleet management? Is it a like exchange, credit to an account, or cash reimbursement?
The keys to warranty tracking: replacement parts vs new vehicle warranty; tagged and recorded, search of in service date; follow manufacturers' changes in warranty time/procedure for claims; warranty module on parts/maintenance systems; follow up for claim resolution.
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