One other critical point is the manner in which information or data is collected and used. The data tracking and analysis must be more sophisticated as the products are achieving longer, more reliable life.
The good news is some industry experts have already developed business analytics programs and reporting designed specifically to maximize the practical value of preventive maintenance data in achieving lowest cost of ownership.
Several truck OEMs are now offering their proprietary software-based systems that facilitate predictive maintenance.
Daimler Trucks North America’s Virtual Technician is an onboard diagnostic system that provides real-time engine diagnostics, enabling drivers and fleet managers to quickly and accurately evaluate events.
According to the company, Virtual Technician helps reduce downtime and decrease maintenance costs by providing a technical snapshot of the engine’s status as soon as the Check Engine light comes on.
When it does, the Detroit Customer Support Center is then notified and it investigates to determine the exact issue, recommended service, how soon the engine needs to be serviced and closest authorized Detroit service location. This information is then relayed to the provided fleet contact.
Once it is decided where the truck will go for service, the support center notifies the service location so it can line up the parts and arrange for service to repair the problem.
“Detroit Virtual Technician combines the best of our resources trained technicians, parts availability, expert call center support and advanced technology - into one package that immediately benefits our customers,” says Brad Williamson, manager, engine and component marketing, Daimler Trucks North America. “With Detroit Virtual Technician, we take the guesswork out of repairs to keep our fleet customers on the road.”
MVASIST is Mack Trucks’ fleet service management platform, offered at no charge to customers who purchase a new Mack.
Launched in 2008, it is a web-based system that allows fleet managers, service providers and dealers to work together in real time to expedite repairs and maximize uptime.
MVASIST allows customers to improve communications, manage costs, reduce downtime and increase operating efficiency, says John Walsh, Mack Trucks’ vice president, marketing. Through an online portal, customers are able to communicate with the dealer, initiate repairs, access a complete service history, approve and monitor repair status and manage repair expenses.
“MVASIST enables timely communication, accurate estimates and access to a complete service history, all in one portal,” he says. It is among the tools the company has developed “to help truck users more efficiently and effectively do their job.”
MVASIST also allows the option of proactively planning and scheduling routine inspections and service. A service advisor can recommend appropriate maintenance, and fleet managers can, at a glance, see the vehicle’s service history.
BEST PRACTICE APPROACH
From the most elementary “just fix it” practice of yesteryear, to the data-driven solutions of today, the entire maintenance process has come such a long way, making vehicles run smoother, longer and more efficiently.
It’s the total cost of ownership (TCO) that matters to fleet owners, and a best practices preventive maintenance approach can move the needle far closer to achieving lowest cost of ownership (LCO).
Take the time to integrate the most advanced business analytics capabilities into your fleet maintenance operations, and the ultimate goal of LCO is one you can achieve.
Dan Umphress is vice president of fleet services for Fleet Advantage. The company serves the leasing needs of Fortune 500 companies and private truck fleets in North America, delivering data-driven fleet management solutions with proprietary information technology and analysis, along with the latest eco-efficient clean diesel technology. Umphress is on the Technology & Maintenance Council’s board of directors and chairs its Study Groups.