Maintenance Outlook Report

Insights into what the near future may hold for vehicle maintenance


EXPECTED CHANGES

Over the next five years, professionals in the field of fleet maintenance can expect changes in the technology they use to perform their duties in several areas.

Mobile devices, onboard diagnostic systems, real-time tracking throughout the service process and unified communications will be the norm. Telephones, clipboards and paper-based systems will no longer be needed.

Silos of information will also be a thing of the past.

To enable a more effective service process, fleet maintenance managers will have immediate access to in-context, relevant source information. Fully informed, proactive decisions about assets will stem from precise estimates and streamlined processes for authorizations and approvals.

Ballpark estimates and conversations that end with, “I’ll get back to you,” or “just do it,” will no longer be heard.

This evolution will also extend to service providers, who will use communication tools to deliver consistent and expert support to fleets, and to deliver timely and quality service.

Advanced vehicle service management platforms featuring multi-party communications capabilities will allow fleet managers and service providers to work together, in real-time, to expedite repairs and minimize downtime.

MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES

Regardless of the type of operation, fleet maintenance managers have to address many of the same challenges. They need to define their fleet’s service needs and manage service events with systems that improve point-of-service access to crucial fleet data and lead to more timely repairs and faster vehicle turnaround time.

Increasingly, fleet maintenance managers also need to integrate in-house maintenance management solutions with onboard systems, and have the capability to analyze a comprehensive and accurate history of fleet and service operations.

The fleet maintenance manager of tomorrow is well suited to this role. These professionals will be educated, technology savvy and interested in tools and practices that are designed to save time and money on every repair, service or maintenance event.

Fleet maintenance managers are under the gun to keep trucks moving, to perform service and effect repairs so vehicles are back on the road faster, generating revenue.

These duties of fleet maintenance managers may not have changed significantly. However, as time goes on, they are clearly being held to a higher standard, especially when it comes to cutting downtime and costs.

The need for vehicle service management systems that provide comprehensive forms of effective communication will continue to be central to their success.

Vehicle Information Transmission

By Chris Oliver, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Zonar Systems

Zonar Systems is a leading provider of telematics, electronic inspection and remote diagnostics solutions for public and private fleets. www.zonarsystems.com.

According to the National Private Truck Council 2011 Annual Benchmarking Survey, 81 percent of private fleets deploy onboard technology to track and monitor their assets, driver performance, fuel economy, safety and on-time performance. This number is up from 76 percent in 2010 and less than 50 percent six years ago.

As reported in the survey, companies using onboard technology reported greater annual asset utilization (123,782 miles per unit vs. 86,705), greater fuel economy (6.3 mpg vs. 6.1 mpg), lower driver turnover (9.9 percent vs. 12.4 percent) and tighter on-time delivery standards.

Now that onboard telematics is standard for most fleets, the technology continues to evolve and grow in importance. While traditionally a fleet management tool, recent advancements in telematics benefit other departments, including maintenance operations.

PROCESS IMPROVEMENT

These systems provide a wealth of information to help improve the maintenance process and reduce vehicle downtime.

Typically, fleet maintenance managers identify vehicle service events during scheduled preventive maintenance or after notification by the driver. Often, additional repairs are required due to excess miles driven after a dashboard fault notification occurs or extended service cycles.

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