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"Who put that hole in my trailer?” – How often are the shop associates asking this question?
Do you have a system that allows shop associates to identify repairs that were most likely caused by a forklift operator or another employee of the shipper?
Negotiating with shippers to recover these repair costs may prove challenging. Your company will most likely feel the pressure of trying to balance customer relations with maintenance cost management. In the shop, we simply need to ensure that we keep the trailers serviceable, and provide our operations and customer service counterparts with the opportunity to collect from shippers when appropriate or when they choose to do so.
From a maintenance perspective, at a minimum, you must have a formal process for:
- Identifying whether the damage was caused by negligence on the part of the
- Shipper forklift operator
- Yard jockey
- Loader/un-loader of the trailer (if completed with manual labor)
- Recording the damage for review by operations and, at some point, potentially the shipper representatives
- Nature of Repair
- Images showing the damage
- Process for capturing accurate costs to the company to repair the customer damage
Even if your company is unsuccessful in recovering damages from the shippers, the dialog may lead to fewer occurrences.
How have you chosen to deal with this at your company?
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Especially when it comes to scheduling work into your company shop
What is the decision-making methodology used for deciding which repairs come into the shop in which order? Are you being consistent with these decisions and ensuring that it’s based on business needs and not based on relationship of driver and shop employees?
Establishing a specific priority system can help you manage this very important element of the shop operation. To accomplish this, require shop personnel to determine the status of equipment, and drivers, as it relates to:
- DOT versus non-DOT repairs
- Scheduled versus un-scheduled work
- Driver comfort items versus driver convenience items
Use all these factors to help you determine the priority order for bringing work into the shop. As a result of what you learn, you may develop a scheduling priority list that looks something like this:
- Driver under a load with DOT issue
- Driver under a load with driver comfort issue
- Scheduled PM service
- Driver with DOT issue but not under a load
- Driver with issue relating to driver comfort but not under a load
- All other work
Using priorities similar to the list above will require you to define which repairs fall in the category of driver comfort. Items such as A/C, seat repairs or issues with any of the amenities in the bunk area would typically fall into this category. You will also need to decide whether scheduled work is a higher priority than unscheduled. That may affect the order of repairs listed third through fifth above.
We have found that most fleet maintenance software solutions contain the ability to assign a priority to a repair order when it’s generated in the system. If priorities are consistently assigned to RO’s, your shop personnel with scheduling duties should be able to “re-shuffle” the list of repairs as equipment shows up at the shop throughout the day and night.
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What criteria are used for making decisions to sublet work out of your company shop
and into a neighboring vendor shop?
Sending work to vendor shops in the vicinity of your company shops sometimes cannot be avoided. Often times, these shops are needed to complete warranty work, or assist your shop when demand is heavy. But, sometimes these shops can serve as a “crutch” to your company shop and work can be subletted simply because the work is undesirable or your shop lacks the proper tooling.
There are several different actions that corporate and shop leaders can take to ensure proper sublet decisions:
- Install a specific authorization process to ensure leaders are aware of any decision to sublet a repair before the equipment is moved to the outside shop
- Develop list of repairs that can be subletted and require leadership sign off for any repairs not on the established list
- Generate reporting to track the number and nature of repairs, along with total dollars spent, at vendor shops within close proximity to your company shop
Ensure that when work is “farmed out”, it’s done for the right reasons. Review reporting that contains repair history at neighboring shops and look for opportunities to keep more of that work in-house. You may find it to be an issue with training or tooling. If so, evaluate the return on investment to institute the training or purchase the tooling that will allow your company to avoid future sublet scenarios.
Considering the fact that these repairs are going to be more costly than if they were completed in-house, it is worth the time and effort from leaders in the maintenance department to spend time managing this expense. Additionally, your shop leaders will gain a better understanding of the technical capability of their workforce and potential shop tooling needs.
Have you used other methods for monitoring or controlling these costs?
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Master Fleet Proud to Announce Major Milestone
Our Franksville, WI. Service Center just celebrated three years without a lost time injury. For our Huddle members that manage a repair facility, you realize that this is a significant accomplishment. The president of Master Fleet, Larry Chaplin, commented as follows: “What a great accomplishment. My hat is off to the Milwaukee team. It doesn’t happen without an effort in our environment which is ripe with potential for injury. Again, thanks for living out our safety culture.”
With over 15 total employees in Franksville, this milestone was clearly a team effort. We asked the Service Center Manager, Steve Copeland, whether they utilize a safety team or other specific group of employees to manage their safety efforts. Copeland said, “Safety ownership is the obligation of every single person.” Even though the shop has a technician who sits on Master Fleet’s Safety Committee, Steve believes that “All of our employees are safety focused.” He concluded by saying “I would like to join Master Fleet in recognizing and congratulating all of our employees at our Franksville facility for reaching three years without a lost time injury”.
Kimm DeWitt, the General Manager of the Master Fleet shops added – “Three years ago Master Fleet set up a focus group made up of technicians from all 3 facilities. Led by the Safety Director, they were asked to help make safety the most important part of the culture by focusing on 5 key areas:
- Developing the Investigation process
- Making recommendations on Safety Policies
- Making recommendations on disciplinary actions
- Creating a reward program for safety successes
- Communication back to the floor
It was this bottom up approach that got everyone on board to put safety first in everything they do at Master Fleet. Our Franksville service center team has put an outstanding effort into achieving this, we are extremely proud of their effort.”
If you have a safety related success story to share, we’d love to hear from you.
On a separate note, we are excited to announce that Master Fleet will be conducting their first webinar next month. The topic will be “Benchmarking your maintenance costs” and it will be led by Larry Chaplin and Steve Zerphey. We will share more details as they come available, please plan on joining us.
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OTR (Over-the-Road) REPAIRS
David Graham, VP of Maintenance
Paschall Truck Lines
Tires and tire related costs represented approximately 45% of the money spent over the road in 2014 and around 11% of that was just to get a service truck to a vehicle that had a flat tire on the side of the road. We are pretty aggressive about replacing tires before they wear out and get to DOT minimums. With that said, I have to ask myself, why are we spending so much money on service truck fees to get flat tires fixed on the side of the road? I do not have the answer, and I’m not sure there is one simple answer, but I do believe that the driver is a big part of the answer.
Running over road debris, overweight trailers, potholes, cut side walls, and heat can all cause unexpected flat tires. I realize some road hazards cannot be avoided, but I want our drivers to focus on what can be avoided. Worn tread conditions, side wall cuts, and excessive heat build-up leading to a blow-out are generally preventable. A brief tire inspection and air pressure adjustment at each stop a driver makes will prevent most of these failures.
I’ve been asked the key points to look at during a tire inspection. My recommendation is first and foremost, gauge the air pressure and adjust it if necessary. If the pressure is less than 80 psi, we consider the tire flat and we ask drivers to call OTR maintenance for repair. If the tire is above 80 psi but has lost pressure since their last check, something is going on causing the pressure loss. We ask our drivers to call OTR maintenance and get it checked out before they have a roadside failure. As far as visual inspection, we recommend looking at the tread depth and compare it to the tire next to it. They should be within 2/32s of each other. Otherwise the tire with the most tread is going to be carrying most of the load. We suggest they look at the tire for bulges and side wall cuts. Just a few minutes checking their tires could save them several hours of wait time on the side of the road to get a flat fixed.
We are doing something else in Maintenance to help those drivers who want to help themselves instead of waiting on a service truck. We are issuing a parts kit through our parts room to drivers that ask for them. Extra lights, glad hand seals, spare fuses, air pressure and tread depth gauges or anything else that a driver requesting the kit is comfortable repairing can be included in the kit. We do not know if they can make a minor repair instead of waiting on a service truck, that will save them time and put money in their pockets.
One final item for thought is windshield wipers. Visibility through the windshield is clearly a major safety item, especially in rainy weather. If a driver says they need windshield wipers, they will not be questioned. However, if it is possible for them to put wiper replacement off until they get to a company shop; they can save us a lot of money. We typically pay $15 to $20 for a wiper over the road ($40 per pair). That same wiper at our terminals is less than $5. Add in the cost of having someone replace them OTR, and that cost can easily escalate to $100 or more just for a pair of windshield wipers. If drivers can get back to our shops safely using old wipers, then we encourage them to do so.
We love to hear from our members. If you would like to contribute an article for a future Huddle release, please contact me at:
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