One of the biggest obstacles I have seen is having carriers understand the importance and necessity of a good Preventative Maintenance (PM) Plan. When discussing PM plans, the typical objections are:
“There is no money in trucking to be able to afford a PM plan” or “Owner Operators refuse to spend the money.”
However, it cannot be stressed enough that a properly implemented PM plan, done a by a reputable certified mechanic, has many benefits, not only from a safety standpoint, but from a business perspective as well.
Consider these key points:
• Save time later by having minor repairs fixed during frequent checks, rather than losing time with your truck being off the road for major problems that have built up over time.
• Save money on costly repairs, down time, towing expenses, costly service calls, and tickets by having a PM plan in place.
• Watch the improvement in your safety ratings, by both NSC and US DOT standards, by maintaining your vehicles’ condition, and thus, not having OOS scale inspections.
• Remember that your 6 month and annual inspections are not sufficient. Regular maintenance, including greasing, oil filter changes, replacement of brake shoes, etc. are all necessary. A good PM plan which has A, B, and C schedules are ideal. Speak to your mechanic about a scheduled plan that can be implemented for you. Ensure that the completed schedules are signed off by the mechanic and attached with the invoice for your safety records.
• Start taking a look at your companies scale inspection reports, Safe Stat ratings, and carrier profile. Ask yourself these questions: Did I have a Fail or OOS? If so, why? Was it because of vehicle condition? If so, what is the root cause? Look at trends in your fleet and ask: Are company trucks having more or less mechanical problems then the owner operators? Or the opposite? If so, why? The bottom line is to look at your road performance and work from there to get to the root cause and resolve it.
• Consider implementing a quarterly safety bonus plan for your owner operators who have the best on-the-road safety performance. Let them feel proud for the effort they have put into taking care of their trucks, and give them the recognition they deserve.
• When implementing a PM plan with your mechanic, make sure you take into consideration the age of the vehicle, speed driven, weight of loads, distances and routes travelled, and the wear and tear on vehicles.
• Make sure your record keeping is detailed and precise. In your monthly summary sheets, ensure that the make and year of the vehicle is recorded and includes detailed history of work performed, mileage at time of service, type of service performed, and components used. Look at the trends by comparing your road performance with repair work done. You may need to discuss with your mechanic how to tweak your PM plan even further to make it more effective and fix potential future failures.
• Keep in mind, and discuss this with your mechanic, that one type of scheduled maintenance plan may not suitable for your entire fleet. The PM plan may need to vary based on year, make, and other critical factors.
• Make sure you monitor your PM plan to ensure it is working. Despite the scheduled maintenance, how many additional times did the truck have to go in for repairs that resulted in costly downtime and labor? Be examining these questions, further planning can help reduce such costs.
Consider the financial savings by implementing an effective PM plan. Initially, it may seem that you are spending extra money; however, in the long run, the financial costs will be easily made up. In addition, a good PM plan will help you run a more profitable business, save time, and most importantly, improve your fleet’s safety performance.