Over the last 12 to 24 months, it seems as though topics such as autonomous driving and ELD mandates have flooded the news headlines for the fleet transportation industry, and deservedly so. These are no doubt topical, important issues. However, in running your fleet day-to-day, understanding the evolution of maintenance and repair (M&R) issues continues to be right up there in level of importance.
M&R is critical because it significantly impacts every type of operation, and having improper management of M&R can drastically erode profits from the bottom line. And the older the truck, the costlier it gets.
According to a recent report on lifecycle strategy, M&R costs on a 2012 sleeper model-year total $23,100, compared with $2,070 on a new, 2019 model-year truck, providing a savings of $21,030.
A shorter lifecycle produces long-term savings beyond the first-year. When fleets adopt a three-year lifecycle for their trucks, 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 Equals 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 and transportation companies.
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 for the economy. FTR reports North American Class-8 orders for October continued to surge, registering at 43,000 that month. ACT Research’s numbers show 43,600 Class 8 trucks in October.
With the demand for shipping and transporting goods remaining healthy, and more trucks coming online in the coming months, how can innovative software and data analytics help fleets and transportation companies better manage M&R activities?
Innovative M&R Software Resources
Today’s leading M&R software now enables private fleets and for-hire carriers to leverage intuitive dashboards instead of complicated spreadsheets and allows users to create their own custom view with the information that interests them most: vehicle performance for fleet managers, M&R data for repair personnel, and even custom financial models for the C-level.
Innovations in M&R software now allow fleets to manage their entire operations, with views on everything from operational costs, M&R data, replacement vehicle savings, vehicle servicing
and histories; and these software platforms are now mobile-responsive for on-the-go fleet management.
Today’s new M&R software can track expenses for a fleet in every aspect of the truck’s requirements, such as expenditures that include tires, tubes, liners and valves; preventative maintenance measures; brakes; expendable items; exhaust systems; fuel systems; and more.
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 on the roads. As such, it would be wise for fleets and for-hire carriers to pay particularly close attention to the latest software innovations that leverage fleet utilization 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.
Matt Hendrix, CTP, is the Senior Director of Fleet Services at Fleet Advantage, which just recently unveiled its ATLAAS Unified fleet management software with key M&R performance metrics and tracking. He has over 20 years of mechanical, operational and fleet management experience and provides fleet monitoring, technical expertise and oversees compliance for Fleet Advantage clients. For more information visit www.FleetAdvantage.com.