The 7th annual Decisiv Maintenance Summit and User Conference took place recently in Reston, Virginia. During the five-day summit, fleets, providers, lessors and managed maintenance providers tackled the most important issues in trucking and transportation. This year, the focus was on outsourced fleet maintenance services and the need for transparency in obtaining real-time status updates and KPIs.
More and more fleets are moving away from running their own shops to outsourcing maintenance and repairs. Given the difficulty of finding, training and retaining technicians, the capital costs of internal shops and the ever changing technology and complexity of equipment required to run a shop, many fleets have found that they have much better uses for their capital.
While some very large fleets will always have internal shops, many are exploring outsourcing. At the summit, key stakeholders examined several areas where improved communication between fleets and providers makes it possible to not only maintain but improve fleet maintenance operations under this new model.
Summit participants identified several types of data that the fleet manager needs to be able to get from an outsourced provider, and discussed ways to share the data throughout the supply chain.
Service Provider Performance
When service and maintenance are performed outside a company facility, the fleet manager needs as much information as possible about what the external provider is doing and the impact those activities have on internal operations. Using a Service Relationship Management (SRM) platform allows for transparency in communicating critical data about:
- Days Out of Service (DOS): Knowing how long an asset will be unavailable enables dispatch and operations staff to plan for coverage. Knowing the reason the asset is down, as specified by VMRS codes, allows the manager to track patterns of problems for both individual assets and the fleet as a whole.
- Percentage of on-time service: Analyzing estimated time of repair (ETR) and actual time of repair (ATR) data for each service event helps managers gauge the accuracy of such estimates.
- Timeliness of information: Several participants noted that having timely information about how long the job will take (preferably in less than two hours) is usually just as important as the cost estimate for the job – is it going to be a few hours or a few days? Once they know this, fleet managers like to receive regular status notifications with estimated times for repair as well as electronic approvals of estimates.
- Estimate/invoice mismatches: Systems must be in place to allow for approvals when the scope of the job changes. This helps to ensure that the invoice isn’t significantly different from the estimate.
When outsourcing maintenance to third parties, fleet managers need access to other data as well, including:
- Preventive maintenance (PM) currency
- Asset availability (downtime)
- Breakdowns (costs and frequency)
- Electronic data (VMRS, case, estimate and invoice data)
Tracking this data is challenging when work is done off-site, but if all parties in the service and repair supply chain communicate through a cloud-based SRM platform, these updates can take place in real time.
The Importance of Mobility
Fleet managers also noted the need to see, understand and approve estimates and get updates even when they’re not in the office. More fleets are looking to cloud-based systems that enable that real-time mobile application access.
This new reliance on tablets and smartphones extends beyond the managerial level. Drivers and service technicians also have their favorite gadgets with them at all times. Allowing them to file reports and obtain updates while they’re on the go is also a must.
System mobility is a game-changer. Even smaller fleets now have the ability to get updates and information with a speed and completeness previously only possible for the big guys.
Today, the average truck is down four days for a service event, with only four hours of actual wrench time (92% of the time is nonproductive, non-wrench turning).
Improving communication between the fleet and the service provider is the best and most direct way to reduce the amount of non-wrench time spent in a service event. As more fleets turn to outside service providers, streamlined communication with real-time updates will become even more important.
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