Uptime Editorial: Blogging Away

You would think that this column, now appearing eight times a year in this magazine, would give me ample opportunity to talk, gripe, and otherwise ramble on about the issues facing the fleet maintenance community.

You would think that, but you’d be wrong.

Surprisingly, there are always things that are left unsaid, reader comments and questions that I’m unable to comment on, events and issues that slip through the cracks. And that’s too bad, because, really, they all deserve thought and discussion.

That’s why I’m happy to announce that I have started a maintenance blog called “Swapping Parts” on www.fleetmag.com, the Fleet Maintenance Web site (and an alternative fuels blog, “Over the Barrel,” at www.fuelpub.com, the Fuel Advantage Web site).

Frankly, it’s taken me a long time to see the value of a blog. I’ve been reading blogs here and there for quite a while, and while I’ve often found them interesting and thought-provoking, I’ve also questioned the value of some... Just because the DJs on my favorite local radio station have started personal blogs on the radio’s Web site, should I care? And yet, there they are, blogging away about the most mundane aspects of their daily life, for all the world to see. Was I the only one missing the point?

But that was then, and this, as they say, is now.

What the heck? Fleet Maintenance has a new Web site, and the industry forums are proving to be a popular place for our readers to ask questions, air grievances and exchange ideas. Why shouldn’t I have the same platform?

So, readers, I have started to blog, and the value of that blog was hammered home within a few days of posting my first thoughts, regarding a reader’s letter about streamlining parts inventories.

In his letter, the reader said, “After observing other fleet operations, it seems that quite a few of them are losing money through their parts rooms. I’m sure there are many fleets that could benefit from some good, sound advice from you. We could stand to learn more ourselves.”

I responded with a request from other readers to offer their own perspectives on the issue.

Before we had even publicized the blog, I had a response from a reader who had just happened to be visiting the Web site and felt compelled to answer back. He said, “Sometimes its the timing that makes one look good. For instance, I go out annually for bids on commodity items such as batteries, filters, and lubricants. I recently had a conversation with the vendor that is currently supplying us with batteries and after just four months into this years contract he is losing 40 percent per battery to us because of the shortage of lead in the U.S. Normally we would not stand to save that much with our annual contracts but, like I said, it’s all about timing. The timing was perfect this year.”

Shortly after this response appeared, another reader posted this comment: “I like that you added this blog. Were always looking for ways to save some money around the shop, and inventory issues are always a big concern. Eager to hear some suggestions.”

I’m sold. And, apparently, you are, too! Obviously, the new Fleet Maintenance blog is something readers are ready for (and happy to comment on)!

I invite you to start reading my blogs, and if I say something that inspires you to comment, all the better.

While you’re at the site, you can also check out the Fleet Maintenance forums, where users can sign in and post their own comments and questions about fleet maintenance issues, and even start conversations with colleagues about those issues.

Since we instituted the forums, we’ve seen some lively threads develop on a variety of issues, from underhood heat to ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. Have you started a conversation yet? If not, I invite you to start one up today: Just sign yourself up, choose a category that’s of personal interest to you, and let us know what you like about it, what you don’t like about, what you don’t understand about it or what you’d like to see done about it... or all of the above!

Very soon we plan to launch a new feature: We’ll be awarding a prize for the “Forum Post of the Month.” You won’t want to miss that! Join us online, and join in the conversation!