VMRS Codes: More Relevant Than Ever

VMRS (Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standards) has been in use since 1970 and the visionaries who developed it might not recognize it today. The basic foundations of VMRS are still the same, but the content has greatly expanded. VMRS was developed as a standardized coding convention for tracking equipment assets and maintenance repairs for a variety of industries. The Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) of the American Trucking Associations has been the custodian of VMRS since 1997. Its mission has been to insure that VMRS is current and responsive to changing industries and technologies.

Prior to VMRS, maintenance reporting lacked any standardization or agreement as to what should or should not be recorded. Many fleets lacked a method to communicate and compare maintenance statistics. Without this reporting ability a fleet's statistics were meaningless, and so a standardized method was needed to provide the data. VMRS was the answer; it provided the means for fleets to gather reports and communicate with each other as well.

Through the use of VMRS (a series of data sets known as code keys) equipment managers could now capture data related to the maintenance and repair of their equipment and store it for future reference. The unique aspect of VMRS was the seamless adaption it made to computer software, and VMRS quickly became the standard language of maintenance software (Prior to the advent of computers VMRS information was gathered on a specially-designed series of repair orders that are still available from TMC).

The objective of VMRS was to develop a uniform method for capturing, recording and comparing maintenance information including equipment, parts and labor. It established uniform terms for indentifying equipment and recording labor in a consistent manner. VMRS developed a way to identify parts in a standardized manner and provide a uniform basis for comparing results. VMRS established code keys, individual "data sets" of very specific information that could be used to describe a piece of equipment and the maintenance done to that piece of equipment.

"CODE KEYS"

Initially 34 "Code Keys" were developed to cover all aspects of equipment, manufacturers, parts and labor. There are currently 64 "Code Keys' contained in VMRS.

The number of individual part descriptions (Code Key 33) has grown to over 24,000 and the manufacturers/suppliers/brand names (Code Key 34) now contains over 3,000 entries. VMRS reflects the latest technologies and companies in the equipment maintenance field and continues to expand.

As the custodian of VMRS, TMC licenses VMRS to a diverse community of users. The licensees include traditional over-the-road fleets, municipalities, utility companies, software firms, educators, and OEMs. Licensees currently pay a one-time fee for the right to use and distribute VMRS. There are three licensing levels to VMRS;

  • Single User Version--The licensee is entitled to use the electronic media version on a single computer workstation; the materials may not be used by more than one user on a computer network.
  • Enterprise Version--The licensee may make copies of the materials for use by multiple users with the enterprise or place the material on a computer network for use within the enterprise.
  • Developer Version--The licensee may make copies of the materials and distribute them solely as part of another product.

VMRS UPDATES

An important aspect of VMRS is the availability of updated codes. Enterprise and Developer licensees receive updates during the year as part of their licensing agreement.

The VMRS codes are dynamic, and new codes are added to the database on a weekly basis. The licensees are notified that the new codes are available and are directed to an FTP site where the codes are stored. They can retrieve the codes and import them into their respective systems or pass them along to their customers in the case of a maintenance software company.

New codes are requested from various users, OEM's, fleets, utilities, government agencies, maintenance software firms are a few examples.

The code request process is very easy. TMC relies on the community of VMRS users to ask for new codes when needed. In this way, VMRS is always expanding to meet the needs of the user base.

VMRS coding reflects new technologies within the equipment maintenance industry. Recently added codes include items for;

  • Hybrid Drive Train
  • Exhaust Urea System (DEF)
  • Lane Departure System
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System

New codes are also added to the labor and equipment classification code keys upon request. The policy at TMC is to quickly respond to the users' needs. Who better to determine what codes are needed then the people using the codes on a daily basis?

WORKING WITH USERS

TMC will work with anyone interested in requesting codes; there is no charge for entering new codes. TMC asks that requested codes come with as much information as possible, such as exact part descriptions, diagrams or schematics if possible and a person to contact with any related questions.

TMC releases an updated code list three to four times a year. The codes are available in several formats: xls, dbf and csv. An email announcing the code release is sent to each contact person on the licensee list. They are directed to the ftp site where the codes are stored, along with previous updates. This method ensures that all licensees are aware of the new codes being released and that VMRS is a current and vital part of a fleet's maintenance program.

TMC recommends that if any personnel changes occur they are notified and a new contact is established.

TMC has a request form available to anyone interested in requesting codes. It's an easy to use spreadsheet that enables both the requester and TMC to keep track of any code requests. Requests can be made for one code or codes for an entire piece of equipment. TMC views new codes as an enhancement to the database, it keeps VMRS relevant and responsive.

CORE LANGUAGE

VMRS has become the core language used by many fleets allowing them to benchmark repair data within their company or with like fleets. VMRS is a key factor in guiding equipment managers when making business decisions relating to parts purchasing or technician productivity. By using VMRS codes a fleet can tell how many dollars it is spending on a particular repair or narrow the data to the individual item level.

Many fleet managers ask how VMRS can help their fleet and why they should use it. The answer is easy; VMRS is the ingredient that makes fleet maintenance better: better communication, better inventory control, better PM's, better warranty claims and most of all better business sense and profit. By using a solid universal set of standards a fleet can cut through the differing jargon, part numbers and labor descriptions to produce viable, concise business reports. VMRS provides the means to accomplish these goals.

Just as zip codes speed up the email and area codes make the phone system work better, VMRS keeps a fleet running smoothly by providing a clear picture of what maintenance has been performed and what to expect in the future. VMRS is much more then numbers, it's a standard method of recording daily fleet operations. VMRS is the proven standard, it has endured the test of time and best of all it continues to grow and reflect the many new technologies facing a fleet.

A VMRS Workshop has been scheduled at the TMC 2009 Fall Meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina. The workshop will be held on September 14, 2009 and will include hands on training in the use of VMRS and representatives from fleets and maintenance software providers. For more details on the workshop, contact Jack Poster at 703-838-7928 or jposter@trucking.org

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