Quality Data

If there is something that I hear a lot of bellyaching about it is the work order or repair order. Maintenance folks can never be accused of being enthusiastic writers (although there are some of you out there). The battle is to get data into the computer completely, accurately and cheaply.

We have the advantage of the Vehicle Maintenance Reporting Standard (VMRS). The VMRS was started by a grant from then Union 76 in 1968 to standardize the use of repair codes in the fleet world. It is overseen by a branch of the American Trucking Association. The VMRS codes can describe just about anything that can be done to a vehicle.

One of the biggest issues is management commitment to making the Repair Order a source of mission critical data. For example, in a Truck Dealer, the Repair Order is also the invoice. In any garage that operates on outside units there is no argument about the critical nature of the data. In in-house repair facilities there is more of a discussion. The data is mission critical if we expect to make decisions based on the CMMS data.

Let's go take a quick look at your Repair Orders. The first pass is the kindergarten pass: Are all the fields filled in? Are they readable? And, finally, does what is written make sense?

We might want to perform a more complete Repair Order audit. Every Repair Order has three parts. These parts may be filled out by different people.

The header is generally filled out by the service writer, shop supervisor or directly by the driver/customer. It is always based on information from the equipment user. The header includes the unit number, the complaint, the user, contact information and a few other fields. The tough one to get right is the complaint.

We want to know what the driver observed, not necessarily what he inferred about what he saw. If the steering is shimmying and last time it was the tires, we want to know about the shimmy. We do not want a requested service to balance the tires (of course, they can say the last time we had a shimmy it was the tires)!

The body of the Repair Order reports what was done by the technician. It lists his/her hours, parts used, outside services and any other information. The two fields of greatest interest are, 'What did the technician find that was wrong,' (might have some other name) and, 'What the technician did about what he found.' Couple this with what the driver reported and the hours and parts and you have a nicely analyzable data set.

The third part is, fortunately, filled out by the computer. It is the summary section. This is the section that is actually the invoice or charge part of the Repair Order. In the old days this section was hand tallied. But keep in mind that if the data in the body is bogus the summary will be garbage.

Your job is to take a number of randomly selected Repair Orders and look at the header and body sections. Analyze the quality of the data in the various fields with particular attention to the ones mentioned.

If there are low levels of quality then put together a short training manual and Power Point and make sure everyone gets trained. Make sure new hires go through the training on an ongoing basis. Re-audit the database on a periodic basis to be sure the quality does not deteriorate. And by the way, have fun doing it!