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Analyzing maintenance and repair data keeps fleet managers in check

Over the last 12 to 24 months, it seems as though topics such as autonomous driving and electronic logging device mandates have flooded the headlines for the transportation industry. And deservedly so: they are no doubt topical, important issues. However, in running your fleet day-to-day, understanding the evolution of maintenance and repair (M&R) issues and costs continue to be on top of the level of importance.

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Fleet Advantage has programmed ATLAAS (Advanced Truck Lifecycle Administrative Analytics Software) to help truck owners track maintenance and repair items, vehicle/driver interaction, safety factors, fuel economy and total operating costs. Users can visualize maintenance and fuel cost, depreciation and interest, damage repair and fleet administration data through custom dashboards. ATLAAS also factors market changes and uses proprietary business intelligence capabilities to determine what Fleet Advantage dubs a truck’s economic “TIPPINGPOINT.”

M&R is critical because it significantly impacts every type of operation. Improper management of M&R can drastically erode profits from the bottom line, and the older the truck, the costlier it gets. It is also the most volatile cost. According to a recent report on lifecycle strategy, M&R costs on a 2015 heavy-duty truck model total $14,472, compared with $2,184 on a new 2020 model, providing a savings of $12,288. Across a fleet of 100 trucks, this amounts to $1.2 million.

A shorter lifecycle produces long-term savings beyond the first-year. When fleets adopt a three-year lifecycle for their trucks compared to a seven-year lifecycle, replacing with new technology in year four, they realize a savings of $42,830 in M&R calculated in years four through seven when compared to a fleet driving the same truck for the full seven years.

MORE TRUCKS, MORE M&R CHALLENGES

More fleet managers are realizing these numbers, and they’re now placing a higher emphasis on M&R strategies. According to a recent survey, 40 percent of respondents listed M&R as their top motivating factor for acquiring new trucks. However, the survey shows that costs are not the only concern fleets have regarding maintenance; 26.7 percent also believe a safe, well-maintained truck is most beneficial in driver recruitment and retention—critical since the driver shortage remains a difficult issue for many fleet operators.

This issue will only grow in the coming years, as fleets look to either replace trucks or add to their mix to handle more demand. With more vehicles coming online, how can software and data analytics help fleets better manage M&R activities and spend? Today’s leading Asset Management software enables private fleets to leverage intuitive dashboards instead of complicated spreadsheets and allows users to create their own custom view with information most pertinent to their operation: Vehicle performance and utilization; fuel economy; M&R data; exception and non-reporting units; and, replacement vehicle savings, along with finance costs—providing a holistic picture of the total cost of operating the fleet.

When implementing an asset management platform to focus on M&R, the following data sets should be taken into consideration:

  • M&R Cost by VMRS codes and description
  • M&R Cost by VMRS by subcategory
  • M&R Cost by invoice average
  • M&R CPM by location and model year
  • M&R Cost by cab configuration
  • Total M&R Cost by OEM and model year
  • Maintenance servicing history per truck
  • Preventative maintenance measures; brakes; expendable items; exhaust systems; fuel systems; etc.
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Travis Wynes, CTP, is Director of Fleet Services for Fleet Advantage, a leading innovator in truck fleet business analytics, equipment financing and lifecycle cost management.

Easily monitoring these trends and managing these metrics will help to make more efficient, cost saving decisions and ultimately reduce total cost of truck ownership. Additionally, heavy-duty trucks must be well maintained throughout the year and be prepared for all weather patterns. It’s important to take every precaution necessary, particularly with M&R to ensure the safety of drivers operating the trucks as well as other motorists. As such, it would be wise for fleets to pay particularly close attention to the latest software innovations that leverage fleet performance data and analytics to track all M&R activity to help ensure each truck is operating at a premium level. This will not only ensure safety for all on the road, it will significantly help the bottom line as well. — Fleet Advantage LLC, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., www.FleetAdvantage.com