Staying a Step Ahead

How to use automated preventive maintenance programs to better manage shop workflow and efficiency.

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, no maintenance manager likes the unexpected. For them, it is far better to have stability and predictability. That is the underlying purpose of any vehicle PM program: Making sure every vehicle receives the right kind of service at the right time.

Having an effective schedule of methodical inspection, service and repair helps assure reliable transportation by preventing potential problems and maximizing vehicle availability. When vehicles are out of operation because of an unexpected repair, the associated costs and aggravations tend to accumulate quickly.

Keeping track of unexpected repairs and problems can help more accurately determine the cost effectiveness of the equipment. Additionally, the more effective the PM program, the better maintenance managers are able to manage workflow and efficiency for improved productivity of the overall maintenance operation.

While cost is always a consideration, the more successful maintenance managers say an investment in a good PM program will always pay for itself over the long run. Such programs help keep vehicle repair costs and downtime to a minimum. Conversely, inefficient, poorly thought out and designed programs cost time and money.

With an increasingly demanding and sophisticated main¬tenance services market, especially when an organization has multiple locations, paper PM systems are taking a back seat to computerized systems which are quicker and easier to use.

For some guidance on how technology can be used to optimize vehicle PM scheduling, Fleet Maintenance Magazine editor David A. Kolman visited with Jason Wonase, president and software developer for Collective Data. Based in Cedar Rapids, IA, Collective Data produces fleet and equipment maintenance management software solutions, and provides additional services, consulting services, custom application development and data conversion.

Fleet Maintenance: Manual systems for scheduling PM can be tedious and time-consuming to manage, especially for larger fleets and maintenance operations. How can technology be used to make things more efficient?

Jason Wonase: In order for a fleet to gain economies of scale, automation needs to be in place, and this includes automating entry of relevant data for PMs. Automation of usage meters and fuel data plays a strong role in the efficiency of the fleet manager’s role in keeping the equipment in operation.

E-mail notification systems can help improve workflow and save time by automatically e-mailing an employee when a scheduled vehicle service is due.

FM: Please explain how computerized PM programs can help better track vehicle use based on time, mileage, engine hours or gallons of fuel used.

JW: Once the desired PM schedules are defined, the entire process of updating usage meters, triggering alerts of routine maintenance to communication with appropriate personnel to recording that the work has been completed can be fully automated throughout the operation. It doesn’t matter if you have 10 vehicles or 10,000 vehicles to manage, the level of effort is essentially the same.

FM: Among the benefits of computerized systems is their ability to generate timely reports on a wide variety of fleet maintenance and management issues, allowing for more timely proactive decisions on PM. The better the information, the better the decisions. Correct?

JW: Information is key when making decisions regarding a fleet. Making the wrong decision can be the difference between meeting budget and incurring excessive unexpected costs.

Collecting all the necessary fleet information is critical because you can’t manage what you aren’t measuring. Fuel consumption, diagnostic codes, inspections, repair histories, part manufactures that perform best, equipment utilization and even driver risk habits are just a small part of what needs to be managed to really understand your fleet.

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