Maintenance Outlook Report

Insights into what the near future may hold for vehicle maintenance

No one wants truck downtime, but the result of delaying service is often prolonged downtime and expensive repairs.

Due to the increasing complexity of truck components, service facilities are required to maintain sufficient parts inventory and staff technicians in preparation for repairs. These additional holding costs and labor time add enormous overhead costs to the organization.

When a vehicle enters the service bay with a potential service issue, the technician must manually diagnose the problem, then check the inventory for parts and schedule resources to complete the repair.


With the newest telematics technology, maintenance managers can remotely diagnose possible vehicle issues and schedule service accordingly.

Real-time vehicle performance data expedites the service process by automating work orders, prioritizing repairs, scheduling technician time and ordering parts often before the vehicle arrives for service.

For example, Zonar’s telematics system captures vehicle location data through GPS and cellular communication, engine fault code and performance data through the engine data bus, as well as user inspection data captured with driver handheld inspection devices. All of this information is available in real-time through a secure web portal.

With such telematics systems, maintenance managers receive real-time notifications of fault code triggers and vehicle performance issues. A manager or technician can then make informed decisions about the urgency of the repair and prepare the facility to service the vehicle before it arrives.

The result is greater shop efficiency and reduced vehicle downtime.


As telematics continues to improve, data will be integrated and accessible from other operational back-end systems. Today, many maintenance software systems integrate with telematics systems so the data is accessible in one location.

As telematics systems become more open and connected to back-end systems, maintenance personnel can utilize the data to streamline other maintenance processes and share data with others within the company.

Direct interaction between the driver and fleet manager is also continuing to improve.

Zonar’s EVIR (electronic vehicle inspection report) product, by way of example, automates and verifies the vehicle inspection process using handheld devices and RFID technology.

The trend towards mobile technology continues today. While fleet managers can access information and create alerts for phones and mobile devices, many operations are moving to these mobile, paperless platforms.


All of these advancements will turn the maintenance facility of the future from a preventive maintenance to a proactive maintenance department. Information will flow and be shared between the driver, fleet manager, maintenance department and the rest of the company.

Decisions will be made proactively and work can be completed in a “just-in-time” manner.

Take the scenario of the “check engine” light. As the driver notices the light on the dash, the fleet manager and service department receive notifications by text message or e-mail.

The service department can then instantly check the fault codes and notify the driver of what action to take. It can then order parts and schedule technician time.

A work order is automatically generated through the maintenance system. Concurrently, the fleet manager can view the maintenance schedule and plan alternatives for freight delivery if necessary.


Maintenance is a major factor in telematics systems and is quickly growing in importance.

If the maintenance department is not engaged with their fleet’s onboard technology strategy, now is the time to get involved.

Review potential solutions and ask how these systems can integrate with other systems you are using. Understand how they can help streamline the maintenance operation and help transform your department and prepare you for proactive maintenance.

Smart Tire Systems

By Peggy J. Fisher, President, TireStamp

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