Emergency Roadside Assistance

Even with the best maintained equipment, breakdowns and the need for roadside assistance will inevitably occur. Because driver and vehicle downtime is expensive, drivers and vehicles need to get back on the road quickly and cost effectively, with...


PeopleNet’s Vehicle Management application collects fault code information from the vehicles’ ECM (electronic control module) and sends the data to FleetNet over the PeopleNet network, FleetNet America’s Holts explains. FleetNet interprets the data and immediately contacts and instructs the driver of the vehicle with the fault code alarm to pull over and park the vehicle. The usual result is minor repair costs, compared to a component or engine failure that might have occurred if attention to the problem had been deferred until later.

In setting things up, Old Dominion’s maintenance department identified urgent fault codes that could result in catastrophic engine failure and should be sent to FleetNet America immediately: high temperature, low coolant, low oil pressure and high oil temperature.

“The fault code gives FleetNet America a better idea of what’s needed,” says Old Dominion director of field maintenance Tom Newby. “The last thing we want to do is have a technician dispatched to the truck only to learn that it can’t be fixed at roadside and will need a tow. It’s all about better visibility and analysis that will keep our maintenance costs and vehicle/driver downtime in check.”

FOLLOW UP

Technology also allows more thorough follow up, and helps to ensure that emergency roadside assistance events are tracked throughout the process, says Clive Guest, emergency road services manager for Michelin, which designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle. There is direct communication with service technicians, and customers have the opportunity to see their events online or receive a detailed monthly report to improve their tracking and decision-making.

Using the latest in communication and computer technology for rapid roadside assistance, each and every call can be tracked in real-time and that information is easily available to fleet managers, adds Michael Stevens, director of Goodyear fleetHQ, Goodyear’s portfolio of business solutions, which includes tire-related emergency road-assistance service. That allows fleet to make better business decisions.

Graphs and spreadsheets can be emailed monthly, quarterly or yearly, giving detailed information about a fleet’s equipment, Holt of FleetNet adds. Failures can be sorted, grouped and layered in many ways, such as by location, customer size and type of operation, and equipment make and model. “With this information, customers can prevent future breakdowns by changing their engine parameters and spec’ing their equipment differently.”

With the use of VMRS (Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards), some breakdown service providers, like FleetNet America, are able to apply costs to emergency roadside events more precisely across all vehicle types. “Customers will benefit through more detailed analysis of their maintenance costs which will give them more control over their expenses,” says Holt.

Developed by the Technology & Maintenance Council, VMRS is a standard coding convention for universally tracking equipment and maintenance costs and functions.

VENDOR SELECTION

In general, breakdown services interview prospective vendors before being brought online as service providers. They may even contact current customers of these vendors to obtain further reference information.

Selection of vendors to handle events depends on several factors, says FleetNet’s Holt. “As an example, it is obviously best for a warranty repair to be handled by a provider that is authorized by the OEM to handle such repairs. Likewise, it is best for an event with windshield issues to be handled by a supplier specializing in windshield repair rather that by a general vendor. FleetNet matches the right provider with the desired service on a case-by-case basis.”

Each vendor is ranked in FleetNet’s system based on price, downtime, quality of work, etc. This enables the company to continually monitor the quality of its vendor network.

InterStar qualifies and monitors service vendors on several levels, including price, timeliness and quality of workmanship, says the company’s Manuel. “We have managed hundreds of thousands of breakdowns over the years so we have the data necessary to determine average costs and repair times for many types of services. Once we begin using a new vendor we’re able to monitor their performance compared to other vendors in their area.”

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