Mercedes-Benz trucks in a workshop

Preventative Maintenance Saves Transporters Money

Tristan Wiggill
Tristan Wiggill Servicing
Whichever way you look at it, Preventative Maintenance is key to saving money in road freight.
It ensures your vehicles are on the road in a safe and reliable condition.
It exposes the public to less risk, and it reduces your potential financial losses.
Money spent implementing Preventative Maintenance systems work towards reducing maintenance costs.
And it provides you with access to other cost-saving programs.
Yet, the process of proving its economic benefits is a major obstacle. They are difficult to quantify.
No records
Many transport operators have no records of their vehicle maintenance costs.
They file job cards and repair invoices in a file.
There is often no attempt to use this data to track trends in vehicle expenditure. And no comparative data against which future expenditures get measured.
This opens up many loopholes where money gets dropped in and lost.
Unfortunately, many transport operators do not see the value in good management systems. Yet, these systems reveal what their vehicles are costing.
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Proving the value of a Preventative Maintenance System requires a degree of research.
It is necessary to identify past costs and compare them to future expenditures. This creates a baseline database for future reference.
Often, information provided by transporters is inaccurate.
It does not provide an accurate representation of per item expenditure. It only serves as a “best guess” information source.
How do we overcome this shortcoming and still have the data to prove the financial benefits?
We should not be critical of transporters who fail to maintain accurate records.
In most cases, the instructions issued attempted to ensure a measure of control. But, the systems were never set up to produce financial decision-making outputs.
Quite often the information goes into a file that is then used as a resource for future reference. But, it is not formatted to serve as a financial document.
Still, questions remain
What is the Rand value benefit of Preventative Maintenance? How do you calculate it?
A nebulous and complicated exercise, we can reduce it to a basic calculation.
There are two subdivisions within the maintenance expenditure model for each truck.
The first is the regular, scheduled maintenance costs. These incur as part of the manufacturer’s recommended servicing cycle.
Often these do not complete within a single month, based on vehicle utilisation. But, it averages out over a year.
Let’s refer to this cost as X.
There are repair and defect costs that need repairing before the vehicles drive. The mechanism by which this detection occurs could be a pre-trip inspection.
Let’s refer to this cost as Y.
Thus, the total repair costs for the vehicle for the month would be X + Y.
But, there are further subdivisions within Y, as explained above. This is where the essence of Preventative Maintenance comes into effect.
These two related factors produce a cost a Preventative Management System manages.
Let us refer to defects detected as a result of a well-managed and conducted inspection routine, as Y1.
Defects detected due to breakdowns we will refer to as Y2.
Thus, Y1 + Y2 = total cost of defects excluding servicing. All Y1 repaired defects reduce the number of Y2 defects and breakdowns.
In general, Y2 defects are many times more expensive to repair.
They're associated with a range of other costs, such as tow-in fees and delayed load penalties.
Y2 defects may also cause other defects due to associated component failures. All are avoidable.
Proper detection and management of Y1 defects reduces Y2 defect costs.
Maintaining a proper inspection routine that produces measurable outcomes saves you money. The smaller Y2 becomes as a result of Y1, the more money you will save.
And that is not all
Preventative Maintenance Systems support fleet owners by managing costs associated with X.
These costs form part of total maintenance expenditure.
Service providers are in the industry to make money. This money comes from sending trucks for scheduled maintenance.
Without systems in place to manage vehicle expenditures, operators risk exploitation.
Invoices arrive for work never done, never required, or not requested.
The transporter is then placed in a difficult situation. His/her truck may be inoperable until they pay.
The transporter then coughs up so that he/she can get his/her vehicle on the road and earning revenue.
Preventative Maintenance takes care of this process for you. With controls installed, final invoicing and job cards match.
Deviances get queried before making authorised payments.
Delayed gratification
Unfortunately, the decline in maintenance costs only become clear later on. This leads transport company owners to believe money is being wasted.
There is a sense of immediate gratification that prevails. The only way to overcome the doubts is to give the system a chance to prove itself.
Manage it to ensure the outputs are accurate. And then measure it against historical data.
Over time the system will reduce breakdowns and defects. It will also impact the relationship you have with service providers.