Five steps to improving vehicle maintenance

Properly maintained vehicles are less likely to break down, less likely to lead to out-of-service violations during a roadside inspection, and more likely to lower a fleet’s total cost of operation.

If you want to keep your trucks operating at peak performance levels, you need to make sure they are properly maintained. This is becoming increasingly important because of the microchip shortage which has stretched vehicle delivery times out into 2022. Fleets that had hoped to add new assets this year are finding that they must run existing assets longer because of the delayed delivery of the new trucks.

With that in mind, here are my thoughts on how to get the most out of your maintenance program:

Define goals: The first step is to set goals for your PM program. Be specific. Do you want to reduce the number of roadside breakdowns? If so, by what percentage? Do you want to eliminate shop visits between PMs? Do you want to reduce your overall maintenance costs without sacrificing performance? If so, how much of a reduction are you looking for? Do you want to increase PM compliance? If so, by what percentage? Each fleet will have its own metrics based on their unique operating parameters. However, those metrics need to be written down and shared so that everyone involved with the maintenance and operation of the vehicle is clear on their goals.
Measure results: Defining goals is a good first step, but then you need to measure your progress toward those goals. Put in place some way to measure how you are doing against the goals you set. You have to capture hard data for each goal, and data needs to be captured for each asset and everything connected to your PM program
Analyze data: Once you have the data, someone in your organization needs to analyze it. This needs to be done regularly (weekly, monthly, quarterly). While it may seem like there is an overwhelming amount of data, set your reports to show only exceptions to the goals. There is no need to look at things that are going well. You want to focus your efforts on improving things that are not up to par.
Make improvements: The data analytics will tell you where the problems are and then you can brainstorm ways to make improvements. Maybe your goals were too ambitious and need to be scaled back. Or maybe you need to do some retraining on pre- and post-trip inspections or the proper way to do a PM inspection. Figure out what you need to do better and take steps to implement those improvements and keep measuring results and analyzing data.
Add controls: This is the continuous improvement piece. Add a step that has you reviewing the whole PM process and the metrics you set at least once per year to make sure they still make sense or to tweak them to achieve even more improvements.
Properly maintained vehicles are vital to your success. When vehicles are maintained, they are less likely to break down, less likely to lead to out-of-service violations during a roadside inspection, and will have a lower total cost of operation.

Source: Gino Fontana, CTP, is COO and EVP at Transervice Logistics Inc. Prior to this recent promotion, he was VP of operations at Berkeley Division and Puerto Rico. His operational expertise emphasizes cost savings, process efficiency and improvement, superior quality, and people management skills. He has more than 35 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry with both operational and sales experience.